Ready[un]made: absence and presence in the intra-relational object

Christian, D 2018, Ready[un]made: absence and presence in the intra-relational object, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Art, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Ready[un]made: absence and presence in the intra-relational object
Author(s) Christian, D
Year 2018
Abstract This research project returns to Duchamp’s gesture of the Readymade to investigate our relationship to language, of how we produce and respond to it, as some ‘thing’ that represents what and how we ‘think’. Rather than considering it as a transparent and pliable medium, this project reconceives language as a contingent and physical material that contains the presence and absence of an already made ‘voice’.

Accordingly, this project sets out to create the conditions for language to speak itself. Its [un]creative goal is to say ‘nothing’ by limiting and exposing the process of artistic production, and outcomes themselves, to the inherent contingency of the ‘inert matter’ of the materials employed. To achieve this, I draw from Duchamp’s notion of anartist to subtract and displace the artist-as-author (the ‘source’ of meaning of a work) by replacing it with the notion of artist-as-anauthor.

Rather than follow Duchamp’s strategy of re-authoring by inscribing a new ‘external’ relationship on an already made object, this project identifies an internal limit within language and develops an algorithm to pass an ‘artwork’ (or textual object) through another. Through subsequent works, it determines whether the absent ‘voice’ of this automatic process can become present in, and as, the work itself.

To develop this algorithm, this research identifies three key steps to disorganize and reorganize language: subtraction, decomposition and transposition. Firstly, to subtract an artwork from itself, it draws from Henri Bergson’s theory of perception and Samuel Beckett’s strategies of ‘unwording’ literature (as filtered through the work of Alain Badiou and Gilles Deleuze). Secondly, to decompose words into ‘primitive’ objects (or ‘urwords’), it applies the basic principles of prime numbers and Set Theory to language. Finally, to transpose an object into another, this research adheres to Walter Benjamin’s requirement for a ‘good’ translation, by discounting overall meaning and translating word-for-word, so that the ‘pure’ language of a translation may be glimpsed in the interstices between languages.

The key outcome of this project is the development of an algorithm that simulates an ‘event’ of language by re-producing and [un]authoring a ready[un]made text. A series of subsequent artworks shifts the relationship between the process of the algorithm and its outcome so that the means by which this process takes place may appear as the work itself.

This research offers new insights into our relationship to [un]thinking, [un]seeing and [un]saying language; it extends and complements the knowledge of art after the Readymade to that of the ready[un]made: as the [un]creative and [un]original ‘re-production’ of artworks that show, after Stéphane Mallarmé, that ‘nothing will have taken place but the place’ of language and
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Art
Subjects Fine Arts (incl. Sculpture and Painting)
Keyword(s) Readymade
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Created: Tue, 04 Dec 2018, 11:03:57 EST by Keely Chapman
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