SHRINK TO EXPAND: THE READYMADES THROUGH THE LARGE GLASS
Departing from Duchamp’s advice in 1961 of finding the “com- mon factor” between the non-representative and the representa- tive, translated here into modernism and avant-garde, this article seeks to understand the readymades as objects that have passed metaphorically through Duchamp’s magnum opus, the unfinished Large Glass (1915-23). More precisely, the readymades are seen as mass-produced utensils that have been stripped bare of their usual function, i.e. their actualization, in order to regain potentiali- ty. Mapping Giorgio Agamben’s interpretation of Herman Melville’s short story Bartleby, the Scrivener (1856) onto the readymades, this shrink-to-expand strategy is understood as a skeptical suspen- sion of judgment, epoché, comparable to Bartleby’s polite refusal to work. Moreover, it is seen as equivalent to the down-scaling of dimensionality observed in the Large Glass, where transparency in one go eliminates the representation of spatial circumstances and opens up the objects toward the ever-changing physical surround- ings, thereby exposing more of those 4-dimensional projections, which are normally suppressed in our reduced 3-dimensional per- ception of the world.
Copyright (c) 2019 Jacob Wamberg
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