The Fountain / Adi Newton .
Most of us are not aware of why we think the way we do we assume the process of our thinking is developing by a natural osmosis, but actually the radical alteration of the thought process is Instigated by original thinkers that most people are not even aware of. We assume that change is influenced by a multiple process but actually ideas can be born a new by minds involved in creativity. Original thinking happens and its consequences go on like ripples from a central point of impact.The central context of this text is that a single concept can manifest into radical all encompassing changes that will influence the fabric of culture whether we like it or not. The creative process that stems from these conceptual ideas that change how creativity is approached and constructed, because change can also be born through desire and need and an ontological evolution to develop new ways of thinking beyond the conditions imposed by nature.
“One can look at seeing; one can not hear hearing.”
Marcel Duchamp, Green Box, 1934 Page 126
The complexity of change and how a single idea can decontextualise art.
The organic and emergent and planned change that Duchamps readymade concept initiates emerges as one of the most single important factors in post modernism, its influence still effecting the outcome of most post modern artand its theoretical basis. Marcel Duchamp (1887–1968) has been described by the painter Willem de Kooning as a one-man movement.( Robert M. Crunden, p. 279} Jasper Johns has written of his work as the “field where language, thought and vision act on one another.” Rosenthal, Nan.2000.p354 Duchamp has had a huge impact on twentieth-century art. By World War I, he had rejected the work of many of his fellow artists as retinal art, intended only to please the eye. Instead, Duchamp wanted, he said, “to put art back in the service of the mind.” Duchamp’s readymade
Fountain (1917) tested the limits of public taste and the boundaries of artistic technique. By pushing and ultimately transgressing such boundaries within the art world, Duchamp’s works reflected the artist’s sensibility. His use of irony, puns, alliteration, and paradox layered the works with humour while still enabling him to comment on the dominant political and economic systems of his time. Duchamp had decontextualised the urinal from its practical function,though his manipulation of its position seemed to draw even more attention to its traditional usage, and consequently provided a discomforting experience for the viewer. The legacy of Fountain extends well into the twentieth century,
informing the way in which the audience relates to these familiar signs. Indeed, contemporary art is grounded in the notion that artists may utilise the resources of everyday life to produce their works, and are no longer bound by the perimeters of the easel, the canvas, or other traditional modes of production. Cubism / Dada / Surrealism,/ Pop / Minimalism and Conceptualism have been effectively influenced by his ideas, a prolific artist, his greatest contribution to the history of art lies in his ability to question, admonish, critique, and playfully ridicule existing norms in order to transcend the status Quo—he effectively sanctioned the role of the artist to do just that..
A white gentlemen’s urinal has been named the most influential modern art work of all time
“Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain came top of a poll of 500 art experts in the run-up to this year’s Turner Prize which takes place on Monday. Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907) was second, with Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Diptych from 1962 coming third. “The choice of Duchamp’s Fountain as the most influential work of modern art ahead of works by Picasso and Matisse comes as a bit of a shock,” said art expert Simon Wilson.
Charlotte Higgins, arts correspondent The Guardian, Thursday December 2 2004
There is always a pressure on education for changes in pluralistic societies as society increases in its complexity so do the pressures to change. Changes take on different forms and are of different natures, through evolution ,by transformation ,adaptation from one idea to another, organic from outside and unofficial, to driven, from inside and official. The influence of technology has been radical over many centuries from Paxton’s printing press to the personal computer, technology’s development has changed society and education in a complex and fundamental way .Of course there are those that have opposed the changes either through ignorance or that it would end a monopoly allowing a democratisation of resource.The process of change is resultant on numerous factors both simple and complex ,individual and as a mass.In my opinion change in art / music / film and literature is Individualistic and fundamental for the development of its form. For new ways in which to express the nature of being to evolve. The drive for change is individualistic and ontological rather than instigated by a mass and we can see this in the great range of individual forms of expression that artists have created through the centuries it is reflected in the changes that have also governed society and the culture and its beliefs and its tastes, Art is ahead of philosophy and literature because its visual language is not fixed to a context. Although there are movements in art, this usually derives from a collection of Individuals seeking to express a collective philosophy, an approach to creative construction to the ideological interests of the participants.It is usually organic, such as the New York Avant garde Music scene and the Abstract Expressionists in the late 1940s and its leading exponents Jackson Pollack and John Cage and that would expand the Duchamp conceptualism with the introduction of a singular conceptual piece that would radically change the nature of what music could be.
From a three dimensional construct to a fourth dimensional conceptual basis, in my consideration the choice and process by which the artist renders and manifests the creation is essentially intrinsic to the work. By the choice alone the artist expresses and creates a matrices in which can be born new possible forms the nature of which will be dependent upon the depth that each individual artist can bring.
Jackson Pollock was one of the most influential abstract painters of the 20th century.The technique he developed radically opened the possibilities of what Art and painting could be and was arrived at by his individualist pioneering energy to make visible his feelings and emotions.
Jackson Pollock drip paintings or action Paintings were developed during the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, and they are believed to contain a mathematical, yet natural, concept called a fractal. The word fractal is derived from the Latin term “fractus” meaning broken or fractured. It is a rough, geometric object that can be subdivided into parts, each of which looks like a reduced-size copy of the whole. In a fractal pattern, each smaller configuration is a miniature, though not necessarily identical, version of the larger pattern. Fractals are referred to as nature’s fingerprint as they are heavily present in nature. Scientists claim that the juts and slopes of a specific crater in a mountain will mimic the approximate outline of a whole mountain. Therefore, what looks like Pollock randomly dripping paint onto a canvas is now speculated to be a truly complex process.
You do the Math
Instead of using traditional painting techniques with brushes on a vertical canvas, Pollock preferred to produce a constant stream of paint splattered onto a large, horizontal canvas. A typical Jackson Pollock drip piece could take months to complete as he would constantly re-work canvases, building up dense webs of patterns. By using this “continuous dynamic” technique, Pollock was able to simulate patterns that were similar to those that evolve in nature. Fractals are essentially remnants or leftovers of the chaos theory in nature; for example, if a tropical storm was the chaos theory, the wreckage left after the storm is the fractal. The belief is that nature does not demonstrate a stable pattern, yet it does possess systems with elements of randomness that are able to organize themselves into some semblance of order. Mathematicians believe that it was through the mastery of the chaos theory that Pollock was able to create fractals in his works long before their inception into modern thought.
Mathematicians claim that fractals are the reason so many people find Pollock’s work so aesthetically pleasing. They claim that a fractal pattern, whether in a Jackson Pollock drip painting or in nature, is subconsciously pleasing to the eye. Researchers studying Jackson Pollock drip paintings are mystified and delighted at the fact that fractals are present in his work, as he was employing it decades before Benoit Mandelbrot came up with the concept in 1975 while studying fluctuations in the cotton market. It is further claimed that artists of all media, whether it is painting, literature, or music, instinctively employ fractal patterns found in nature when they create. Studies indicate that people prefer recurring patterns that are neither too random nor too regular. Of particular interest is the possibility that humanity’s preoccupation with fractals may be linked to survival more than aesthetics. On an African savannah, by tuning into fractal dimensions, people could tell if the tall grass was being ruffled simply by the wind or by a predator.
When Jackson Pollock drip paintings are meticulously deconstructed, the fractal patterns are so complex that mathematicians claim that they can determine a fake Pollock piece from an authentic one. In fact, Pollock’s fractal expressionism has been studied so closely that scientists say they can use fractal analysis to not only validate Pollock’s work, but also to date it. Apparently, changes in the fractal dimensions denote an evolution in Pollock’s style.
A Silent Change
Music is Everywhere, we just have to look for it.”
John Cage (Silence 1966,p185,)
– “One way to study music: study Duchamp.”( J Cage 1968 p 26)An impressive line from John Cage . The friendship between these two creative minds reveals their mutual concern with the conventional perception both on the artistic creation and the spectator’s expectation.
“I have nothing to say / and I am saying it / and that is poetry / as I need it”
(Silence 1966.p 43)
John Cage’s most famous musical composition is called 4’33”. In 1952, David Tudor sat down in front of a piano for four minutes and thirty-three seconds and did nothing. The piece 4’33” written by John Cage, is possibly the most famous and important piece in twentieth century avant-garde. 4’33” was a distillation of years of working with found sound, noise, and alternative instruments. In one short piece, Cage broke from the history of classical composition and proposed that the primary act of musical performance was not making music, but listening. It consists of the pianist going to the piano, and not hitting any keys for four minutes and thirty-three seconds. (He uses a stopwatch to time this.) In other words, the entire piece consists of silences — silences of different lengths.On the one hand, as a musical piece, 4’33” leaves almost no room for the pianist’s interpretation: as long as he watches the stopwatch, he can’t play it too fast or too slow; he can’t hit the wrong keys; he can’t play it too loud, or too melodramatically, or too subdued. On the other hand, what you hear when you listen to 4’33” is more a matter of chance than with any other piece of music — nothing of what you hear is anything the composer wrote.
So important did Cage’s work eventually become in music history that even the Encyclopaedia Britannica described him as a “composer whose work and revolutionary ideas profoundly influenced mid-20th century music.
John Cage wrote “My favourite music is the music I haven’t yet heard. I don’t
hear the music I write: I write in order to hear the music I haven’t yet heard.”
.( A Year from Monday. 1968 p31)This desire to find new sounds and to abandon the traditional role of the composer as a controlling authority were hallmarks of John Cage’s career and made him at once a revered and reviled figure in modern music.
The lesson of silence
In her “lesson of silence” (Montessori 1966:p64), Montessori opened an aural door into the future philosophy of Cage, and expanded the sound environment of children. By asking them to sit very still and listen, she said children would hear the silence deepen and then the emergence of “…slight sounds, unnoticed before, are heard; the ticking of the clock, the chirp of a sparrow in the garden, the flight of a butterfly”. (Montessori 1966:p66) The innovative ideas and practices of Montessori were part of a growing interest in the child in arts education at a time when “progress [was] in the air,new ideas fly from country to country” (Jaques-Dalcroze1921, Mead, Virginia Hoge 2006p42-46.At the time education embraced the concept of the child as creative participant in the earlier part of the twentieth century, music audiences were trying to come to grips with atonality. Composers employing tonality, but not the tonality of Bach and Brahms, were very diverse in their approaches and could not easily be discussed as representing one style . Gertrude Stein wrote:The twentieth century is a time when everything cracks, where everything is destroyed, everything isolates itself, it is a more splendid thing than a period where everything follows itself” (Stein 1938 p:87). Here Stein encapsulated a problem with art music in the first half of the twentieth century – it had ‘splendour’ but much less ‘reasonableness’ than music of the previous century because of its diversity and difference. In an educational context, music of the first half of the twentieth century was an inhibitor as it was difficult to understand, to ‘keep up-to-date’ with, to listen to,to transcribe, to perform, to encapsulate into a syllabus, and to assess.
The influence of John Cage
For many composers and educationalists it was John Cage whose ideas, compositions, philosophies and teachings were especially influential in bringing creative composing activities into music education through their work in the classroom. Cage, an inventor in sound, released music from the bondage of the concert hall, tonality, traditional instruments, and traditional notation. Through this release he showed other composers working within music education how children could also explore and invent with sound without needing a deep knowledge of tonality, traditional instruments and traditional notation. In 4’33” written in 1952 (1960), Cage framed four minutes and thirty-three seconds of “a pianist’s inaction” during which the audience, and the performer, listen to the sounds of the performing environment, or imagine the sounds of the piano, or both. The piece combined aspects of concept art and also minimalism, depending on whether one is imagining or listening within the performing environment. It opened music and music education up to the sound possibilities of the sonic environment and the soundscape, ideas reflected later in Canadian educator Schafer’s work.
HPSCHD (premiered in 1969) for 7 harpsichords and tape recorders,combined seven different harpsichord parts, many incorporating pages of music by Mozart, with fifty-two tapes, many of which were composed with the I Ching using a randomized procedure of note selection. Visual material including slides and films were part of the performance resulting in “…an artistically activated enclosed space”. Here, issues of musical collage, multi-media, structure through chance procedures, technology and the issue of the performance site are combined. Through the work of Orff in Germany in the 1950s, the influence of Cage on Schafer in Canada in the 1960s, the work of Peter Maxwell Davies andPaynter and Aston in the late 1960s and 1970s in the United Kingdom,projects in the United States which invited composers into music education in the 1960s, plus the publication and dissemination of these ideas, the creativeactivities of exploring, improvising, composing, listening and performing music came to be recognised as important and integral components of music education
In Sound and Silence, Paynter and Aston’s influential book on creative music- making published in the United Kingdom in 1970, students and teachers were introduced to composing activities through contemporary and earlier musica lstyles, reveling in the ‘splendor’ and ‘less reasonable’ aspects, to re-quote Gertrude Stein, of twentieth century art music. Sounds and trends in twentieth-century music were shaped into twenty four imaginative projects. These included: the ‘difficult music’ of serialism’s atonality and dissonance; sound experimentation on one instrument, (Paynter and Aston 1970:p27) offering pieces by Chavez, Bartok, Stockhausen and Messiaen (p 34)as examples of such exploration; silence and sound as the raw material of music through works by Cage, Wolff, Feldman and Brown. (p214);
Cage’s use of chance operations to determine which sounds shall occur (p 61);and when the new sounds of the prepared piano and technology as a sound source (p 134). In the introduction, Paynter and Aston gave reasons for education, for music education, and for placing student-centred creative composing activities in the learning environment, which is something that as a tutor I fully agree with. They reminded teachers that while they were ‘music specialists’, education should be child-centred, educating the whole person, and it should start from the needs of the individual. This is very much a humanist approach something that has informed my teaching style and practice, They wrote of the importance of expressing our feelings, the need to communicate these ideas and emotions and the importance of the creative arts.“If a child is to grow in awareness of himself and his world, he will need to be articulate”( p 24)The very processes of becoming articulate deepen our perception… Music is a rich means of expression and we must not deny our children the chance to use it” (p25) In visual art, they commented on the way students engaged with contemporary art and suggested that music can be approached in the same way.The techniques used by composers in the twentieth century are comparable with the techniques used by their contemporaries in other arts with the same diversity of style.The influence of three dimensional concepts developed by sculpture/ painter Duchamp and his contemporary’s changed the context of music composition.
The ideology of Change
One of the greatest bones of contention in discussions of ideology concerns the notion of economic determinism. This notion suggests that the economic structure of a society is so fundamental and important that it profoundly influences everything else, including peoples’ ideas, values and assumptions, or in other words, including ideology. “This is called ‘determinism’ because it suggests that people are not ‘free’ to think or to act in any way that they choose, but that their thoughts and actions are laid down for them, or ‘determined’ by economic factors”. (Lucy Green, 1988, p.249) However most writers on ideology clearly acknowledge that people are not completely determined by their economic situation, and that people do retain a degree of freedom to think for themselves. Otherwise, there could not be a variety of ideological positions, and there could never be any social change, or social challenges such as strikes, civil rights protests, peace movements, feminism, and many other movements. The crucial point about ideology in such cases is that when people make challenges they cannot be entirely ‘free’ of ideology; rather, they are bound to operating from new ideological positions. These new ideological positions will have some relationship, both to previous ideological positions, and to changing economic or other large-scale social conditions. Ideology represents sets of ideas, values or assumptions which large numbers of people in a given society believe in at any one time, and which aid in the perpetuation of existing social relations. These ideas, values and assumptions are not ‘innocent’, straightforward truths, nor are they deceitful, cynical falsehoods, but they grow out of social relations in such a way as to appear helpful and explanatory to people from various perspectives. This appearance derives in part from the dual tendencies of ideology towards reification and legitimation. Through these tendencies, ideologies either directly or indirectly influence the ways people live, how they behave and how they relate to each other; and it is through such influence that ideologies help to perpetuate social relations. “One of the greatest problems in writing about, thinking about, or discussing the concept of ideology is precisely that the writer is always inside ideology himself or herself. We cannot for a moment step outside of ideology altogether and consider it as if from an ideologically-free or ‘objective’
position”(Lucy Green, 1988. p119)
Conclusion The Fountain of Truth
One single original idea can affect the way we think , and how we perceive, it can take just one innovative individual to completely shift perspectives. The Developments and the changes that these ideas Instigate can take several decades before the acceptance and integration of those ideas are so complete that it becomes part of the fabric of the culture and consequently part of the curriculum. The modern methods of today’s composers and artists derive from the ideas and techniques founded by such individuals as Duchamp and Cage and other innovative and pioneering artists, My philosophy and approach derives from and is still informed by these ideas, It is through the work of artists such as Duchamp and Cage that have inspired and expanded my work primarily as a artist . We need new and radical forms of expression and new ways of looking.
To encourage this through educational resource and facility is I believe a much needed context in which to foster change and development Payter was saying this in the 70,s and it is still as relevant today as then, Although the context has changed we can still apply the ideas. In the last three decades I have been involved in the development of computer technology applied to music and sound manipulation, the pioneering works of Duchamp and Cage and many others have inspired and informed me to devise new ways in which to express the feelings and concepts that as individuals we have. Without original outsiders, those who go against the grain we would remain trapped ,unable to go beyond a fixed point , for me the work of these outsiders these pioneers is the fountain of truth we can not contain.
“The art community feels Duchamp’s presence and his absence. He has changed the condition of being there”.(Pierre Cabanne, 1987, pp.109-10) “The event that made conceivable the realization that it was possible to ‘speak another language’ and still make sense in art was Marcel Duchamp’s first unassisted Readymade. With the unassisted Readymade, art changed its focus from the form of the language to what was being said…This change – one from ‘appearance’ to ‘conception’ – was the beginning of ‘modern’ art and the beginning of conceptual art. All art (after Duchamp) is conceptual (in nature) because art only exists conceptually.” Joseph Kosuth– (1969), p. 844.
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