Imagine How It Would Work

Bruce Nauman. Crime and Punishment (Punch and Judy) 1985

“For Bruce Nauman drawing is equivalent to thinking. From 1966, when he left the University of California at Davis, until about 1969, when he alternated between traveling in Europe and working in his studio in Mill Valley, he drew mostly small, quick sketches that served as notes for sculptures or diagrams for films, videotapes, and performances. Nauman drew these in pencil while sitting at his desk; they were like writing. At the same time he made larger drawings in which he tried to solve the execution of a sculpture or imagine how it would work out. Occasionally, Nauman would make a representational drawing of a work after it had been executed, reasoning that ‘when I take distance I can see aspects of the work that did not appear before, but which now seem the most important.’ Nauman approaches his projects systematically, even if he often pushes their inner logic into absurdity.”” [Coosje van Bruggen on Bruce Nauman]

Ed Ruscha Double Standard 1970

“I get my inspiration from just about everything, even things I hate, and they all combine into a Mixmaster of thought and activity. My pictures come out of this Mixmaster, they’re tumbling when they come out, and they can be difficult to grasp and understand. But they are still pictorial to me. I’m making a painting, I’m making a picture, just like Thomas Cole made a picture. I don’t analyze it. When I’m driving a car, I might have the radio tuned to any given channel, but it’s a soundtrack to what I’m seeing out my windshield. I imagine that all paintings could have a soundtrack, and if they did, Cole’s might be religious music. My soundtrack might be something like the overlapping of two unlikely radio stations that produce crackle and aggravating noise….
I always liked the abstractness of movies that had scratches on the film, these little blips and mistakes that occur when a film goes through a projector. In doing these things, I’m kind of stating some of my history of seeing these movies and liking their abstract quality. I don’t care what the movie’s about, I really like the physicalness of the scratches. It’s funny because it means something to me today, but ten years from now, young people are not going to know what this is at all. They’re going to say, “What?” There’s no such thing as scratches on film anymore. It’s going to pass on into history.” [Ed Ruscha in conversation with Tom McCarthy and Elizabeth Kornhauser]

Marcel Duchamp Note autographe pour “Le grand verre” : 1 l’intention, 2 la crainte, 3 le désir, 1912–68

In early 1934 Duchamp began to create faithful facsimiles of a large number of his notes and diagrams for inclusion in what is generally known as the Green Box. ‘I wanted to reproduce them as exactly as possible. So I had all these thoughts lithographed in the same ink which had been used for the originals. To find paper that was exactly the same, I had to ransack the most unlikely nooks and crannies of Paris. Then we had to cut out three hundred copies of each lithograph with the help of zinc patterns that I had cut out on the outlines of the original papers.’ The reference here to using the ‘same ink’ is misleading: the notes were reproduced using a collotype process that used straightforward printing inks that imitated the appearance of the originals. However, Duchamp’s determination to create visually accurate facsimiles of the notes, rather than to produce typeset versions, or photographs of the notes as before, was striking. Perhaps he felt that the full complexity and originality of the ideas could not be conveyed without providing the visual and material qualities of the handwriting and pieces of paper themselves. The British artist Richard Hamilton, who later prepared a typographic edition of a translation of the notes, acknowledged that the originals and their facsimile versions had a special quality that a typeset version of the same words did not offer: ‘They convey the doubts, the rethinks and doubletakes, the flat bewilderment and the moments of assurance; the pauses and reaffirmations are there, the winces, private sniggers and nervous ticks.’ But, of course, this adherence to a painstaking reproduction of the appearance of authenticity was full of paradoxes, given Duchamp’s famous rejection of the importance traditionally associated with the artist’s touch in art, and his invention of the readymade in 1916–17. Consequently, the project of faithfully reproducing the notes through mechanical means should perhaps be seen as a gesture that cleverly undermines, and ultimately negates, the familiar dualism of ‘original’ versus ‘reproduction’. [Jennifer Mundy on Duchamp’s drawings]

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