본문 바로가기
  • Home

The Concept of Contingency in Works and Daily Lives of Duchamp

Kim JungHyun 1

1홍익대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Duchamp has been caused various traces on working and discourses of modern art and an issue of contingency has also been significantly discussed. From 2009 to 2010, the exhibition 《Chance Aesthetics》 held in Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum at Washington University was planned to gather different modern artists with a theme of chance and it was Duchamp that was presented as an original background of it. In the first half of 20th century when Duchamp was active in his art making, the art itself rather had an opportunity to seek disconnection from the past despite of the confusing situation with two World Wars. A switch from a deterministic perspective to nondeterministic contingency was a distinctive phenomenon which simultaneously occurred in science, politics, society and culture at that time. In this context, this study intends to consider how Duchamp experienced and applied the issue of contingency emerging in the first half of 20th century into his works and daily lives and what distinction it had from the art of chance after Duchamp. First of all, Duchamp’s contemporary experimental spirit is reviewed through Trois Stoppages-étalon (1913-14) and Anémic Cinéma (1925) which focus on physical phenomenon itself for occurrence of chance. Trois Stoppages-étalon is a record or traces left by thread falling from the air. External and physical force of Duchamp’s experiment in 1913 was random and contingent output of that day. With this seemingly simple experiment, he tested the possibility itself in occurrence of chance and worked on visualizing it. In Anémic Cinéma, he opened the modern art so that various contingency could be involved, presenting physical senses other than vision which had been dominant in visual art for a long time to the perceptual system. Out of his life as an artist, Duchamp spent time repetitively playing chess and roulette, rather attempting to control the chance. He, however, came to a conclusion that the chance could not be controlled and there were both chances and inevitabilities in this world. Occurrence of chance, repetition of daily lives with encountering those pieces and the world of chances and inevitabilities cycled this way. Like philosophers of materialism that Louis Pierre Althusser suggested, the world Duchamp looked into was made on the basis of chance. As he was interested in forming the world based on chance and mentioned intervention of an observer as an ultimate drive for causing movements in Nude Descending a Staircase 2, he gave attention to the observer’s relative vision as a drive for forming this world. The exhibition 《Chance Aesthetics》 directly showed that modern art after Duchamp was utilizing effects of chance from an artist’s subjective selection as one of tools more useful than a primary concept of chance, the absolute absence of causal relationship. Like Duchamp’s prediction, formation of the world based on chance has been accepted in various fields over time and its effects have been spreading as well. As this thesis examines, however, study on infinite possibility of initialized moment when chance occurs, in other words, on chance with infinitely parallel coexistence regardless of importance or right and wrong, still remains open to debate since contingency shown in Duchamp’s works and daily lives visibly conceptualizes a mechanism where chances occur other than diverse effects from the chance.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.