the Hatrack is and/or is not Readymade:
by Rhonda Roland Shearer with Gregory Alvarez, Robert Slawinski, Vittorio Marchi and text box by Stephen Jay Gould
In order to actually
see all of the coatrack information seen in Duchamp's original studio
photograph in real 3D space, our eye would need to be moving in time
-- see Illustration 27 showing a video of Robert Slawinski and my animation.
Our analysis of the original coatrack depiction reveals that Duchamp
used a common composite photo trick to "cut and paste" together
his "whole" coatrack. Using 6 different photographs from 6
different fixed eye viewpoints, we believe that Duchamp cut out one
section of the coatrack from each photo and then carefully fused these
parts together for the final appearance of only one readymade coatrack.
The spectator would only "see" this actuality of multiple
points of sight "non-retinally," with conscious effort via
mental visualization or actual model-making.
We made both physical and computer models here in the lab. Our computer animation diagrams the 6 cuts we believe that Duchamp made from 6 separate photographs taken in 6 different perspective positions. Robert Slawinski and my analysis concludes that Duchamp used 3 whole hooks, 1 hook split into 2 parts and 1 whole wood board as the 6 parts (from 6 different photos) as he assembled into what appears to be the single, whole and readymade coatrack in his studio photograph. See Illustrations 28A, B, C, D, E, F, the 6 coatrack parts that Duchamp cut out and later assembled together are color coded (in these still images taken from the computer animation) to emphasize the separation of the part selected by Duchamp from the rest of the coatrack (that he then discards, and that follows the same perspective geometry of the targeted part.)
series of stills shows each of the 6 coatrack positions
Illustration 29A and B show a comparison of the parts that Duchamp selected (in color coding) with an image that assembles the 6 whole coatracks, in their 6 different perspectives, together into one event simultaneously seen (using the same color coding).
In addition to the
evidence resulting from our analysis of the perspective geometries,
2 other examples of internal evidence indicate that Duchamp used both
"masking" and "cut and paste" techniques from the
photo alterations used in hobby and trade.
Examine illustration 30, a close up view of Duchamp's original coatrack photo, revealing what a photo trick book calls the "fluffy edges" that can easily appear as a soft whitish outline around a photo cut-out after being pasted, if special measures are not taken. Forensic experts look for tell-tale signs -- such as fuzzy contours -- as indicators that photo prints have been combined. See illustration 31A and B,two pages from "The Secrets of Trick Photography" by O.R. Croy discussing this particular problem within the cut and paste method.
Our second example of internal evidence for our hypothesis that Duchamp altered his original coatrack photograph by combining parts returns us to illustration 23E. Only after making our animation analysis of the geometries in the coatrack did I notice the potential importance of Duchamp's "working" prints of the coatrack first published in 1983 by Ecke Bonk. These prints were described by Bonk as preliminary stages of Duchamp's 1940 process in preparing pochoir prints for his publication of 300 copies of the Boîte-en-valise, (see illustration 32A and B). Bonk does not explain what the method was, or why Duchamp was cutting and pasting a separate paper cutout of the coatrack onto the background studio photo (where 3 hooks are masked out of the scene with white). Illustration 32B indicates an attempt to position only the first hook of the cutout onto the coatrack underneath. This "working print" also suggests (as judged by their two positions) that the paper cut-out coatrack is in one perspective view and the coatrack underneath, imbedded into the studio photo background, is in another perspective.
I believe that this working print serves as a "smoking gun" in our case. Not only is the cut and paste method and the geometries of the forms similar between the alterations in the studio photograph and in Duchamp's Boîte pochoir print, but his separate white-out and maskings of the wood board and the hooks now makes sense. For what purpose would the separate masking and treatment of the 4 hooks and the wood base serve (as is clearly indicated in his "working print") other than as a matrix for creating a composite image?
Related to evidence
of photo compositing, as found within Duchamp's "working print"
of the coatrack, is a curious 2nd version of a photograph of Duchamp's
Fountain urinal taken by stieglitz in 1917, and shown in illustration
33A and B. William Camfield's 1989 book, a chronicle of the odd history
of Duchamp's Fountain urinal, presented this second stieglitz
photo for the first time after it quietly appeared within the archive
of Duchamp's main patrons, the Arensberg's, in the 1950's.
the potential importance of this particular photograph, and its delayed
appearance for spectators, let us again examine, as we did with the
hatrack and coatrack, the consistent approach that Duchamp uses to present
his readymades -- as a series of snapshots over time -- now applied
to Duchamp's urinal.
As we discovered when examining Duchampís hatrack and coatrack, the above set of urinal depictions in 2D and 3D do not describe one consistent 3D urinal. For example, our analysis of the studio photo 1916-17 (illustration 34D found in the 1960's), the 1941 print (illustration 34C created from a 1916-17 photograph) and the 1st version of the stieglitz photograph (illustration 34A published in the Blindman #2) reveals an inescapable conclusion -- namely, that two different urinals were represented in 1917. Again, our key question involves casualty -- did Duchamp change urinals literally or photographically? Evidence for both hypotheses exists. Duchamp did make his original 3D miniature urinal model in 1940, and he did commission others to manufacture the full edition of 300. Surprisingly, after Duchamp authorized Schwarz to make editions of 14 of his "readymades," Schwarz failed, despite intensive search, to find even one of the 14 mass produced objects close enough to Duchampís originals in 2D or 3D to serve as prototypes for the editions. Therefore, Schwarz had to organize the manufacture of all 14 editions himself. Stranger still, no duplicate urinal has even been found in any catalogue, including the literature from the very company that Duchamp specifically named his source for his urinal -- the Mott company.