3 Aug 2012

Machines of Man Ray and Duchamp

Man Ray's Object To Be Destroyed (1923) combines a metronome with a photograph of an eye.  He said: 'I had a metronome which I set going when I painted - like the pianist sets going when he starts playing - its ticking noise regulated the frequency and number of my brushstrokes. The faster it went, the faster I painted. A painter needs an audience, so I also clipped a photo of an eye to the metronome's swinging arm. One day I did not accept the metronome's verdict, the silence was unbearable and since I had called it, with a certain premonition, 'Object of Destruction', I smashed it to pieces.'  In 1920, Marcel Duchamp made an optical experiment with the help of Man Ray. Making use of the fact that the eye retains an image for a fraction of a second after it disappears, he built a motorized machine. Segments of a circle were painted on glass plates and mounted on an electrically operated metal axis. Apparently the experiment was not a success. The objects from these 'experiments' are at MOMA, New York

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