Found Pop Detritus = Readymade?
By Eli Epstein-Deutsch
posted: 03-08-11
Heavy Metal Parking Lot opens the Found Footage Festival at Largo (in the LA Weekly)
Image Source

"Back in 1917, when Marcel Duchamp originated the notion of "found art" by attempting to enter a porcelain urinal into a gallery show as a piece of sculpture, he probably never imagined that someday, hundreds would gather in dark rooms to watch big-haired exercise videos, scary corporate-training films and screamingly unfunny televangelist comedians."

The LA Weekly writer Scott Timberg is right. Why, indeed, is Duchamp's spirit being invoked in conjuction with the odd, voguish habit of plundering an unsecured cache of old VHS tapes from an indie video store, stringing together the cheesiest, most-cringe-inducing clips culled from therein, and presenting the result as a noteworthy cinematic occasion? For this is the activity, staged by a group of Brooklynites around the country, that is being reported in the alternative press as a Duchampian homage.

Now, I was at one of these found footage shindigs (because, believe it or not, I had a grant to study 90's media culture), for research purposes, and thus sober. And I can tell you that there was no artistic transgression involved, no institutional critique, and only the vaguest sense of aesthetic uncanniness, deriving from the fact that, well, people twenty years ago looked like buffoons on TV. The queasy mix of second-hand nostalgia and cheap superiority I experienced through exposure to this phenomenon, I can only assume, was not the intended effect of Duchamp's readymades.

Now, none other than the Roboprofessor is getting into the act with his Duchamp Found Pop Culture Object Theater:

What's next? Are these reasonable appropriations of Duchamp's legacy? And am I, therefore, just the sort of culture snob that M.D. was born to annoy? Discuss.




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