"Art history is a nice story.
Some cave man starts to look at bulls and paints them on his wall.
Then the next caveman looks at his painting and he is jealous, so he makes a better one.
And the story continues.
If the 2nd caveman would look at bulls, he wouldnt get any where. The smartest guy knows to look at the painting of his competitor and to upgrade it. It is good to learn from recorded history, otherwise mankind would still be drawing bulls on cavewalls.
So i make websites after paintings." - Rafael Rozendaal, 2004
Rafael Rozendaal works within the medium of conceptual internet art and experimental flash design. A majority of his websites rely on user interaction, his subjects "range from clouds to blood, from hands to farts, from hills to dollars, from doors to fire." Rafael has exhibited work internationally at Spencer Brownstone Gallery, New Museum, Cell Project Space, Hayward Gallery, Deitch Projects, and WhitneyBiennial.com (to name only a few).
His work, although the epitome of contemporary art, is strongly indebted to art history, often directly referencing specific works or artists. He has digitally remade a readymade: Duchamp's Bicycle Wheel, on view at leduchamp.com (2008) . Rozendaal's interpretation of the readymade is interactive and invites the audience to "spin the wheel." Rafael was nice enough to answer a few questions we had about his work and motivations for appropriating from Duchamp.
Harold Rosenberg defines Duchamp's assisted readymades as "creating a work of art out of a worthless mechanical reproduction, it subjects a media product to an act that reflects the situation of art in our time."
Would you apply this same definition to your work?
I think this definition does not apply to my version of the wheel. The piece i made is built on a software that is readily available but still needs a lot of user input, so its not really assisted readymade. Duchamps piece is a collage of two pieces, my piece is a software version of his. It is a very different approach.
What were your motivations in directly appropriating from Duchamp in creating this piece?
I saw the wheel in the Centre Pompidou and i noticed they had locked the wheel, and you are not allowed to touch it. As far as i know, Duchamp's bicycle wheel is the first interactive piece of art. It is the foundation of everything after. So i felt a need to remake the piece and make it publicly available on the world wide web. Also i am very interested in interactive representation as a fairly uncharted territory in art. Showing a hand that does not move till you touch it.
Throughout your practice how have you come to use flash design as your primary medium?
Flash is very flexible and fits my ideas. It is a specific way of thinking, a certain lightness and very pragmatic. And it always works on every computer. It is nice to always use the same infrastructure so i can focus on the subject matter instead of practicalities. >
How do you feel Duchamp's sculpture translates into an interactive piece in the digital realm?
Duchamp's piece is no longer interactive in the museum, they locked the wheel. An online version is more portable and ubique, which I think are beautiful qualities. I am very sensitive to the screen, it is my home and studio and exhibition space.
Ultimately, without Dada or Duchamp's introduction of the readymade and the everyday into art, do you think Internet Art would be so readily respected as Art and have institutions devoted to it?
It would be interesting to travel back in time and somehow cancel Duchamp and Dada. Who knows what direction the world would have headed? However I think things would have happened just the same, if they didnt do it someone else would have felt the place they would leave. It is impossible nowadays to think of art without their influence, it just became so widespread and common knowledge.