Press Review

Tablets of Chanteroels
La Roue de Duchamp

Duchamp’s wheel

The Small Writer Illustrated, No 98, May 2004.

In a previous number, we had touched the idea that the domestic animal (the ox), the utilitarian object (a mobile phone), or still the concept of utility (communication), composed the basic materials with which stylized graphics had lead, for centuries, to written language: to ideogram or phonogram. The common characteristic of all these elements is the fact that they are all tools answering day-to-day needs of a given time period. In its evolution, language naturally and punctually projects a moment of human History. In the given situation, it may have been relevant to choose a daily tool, a “thing” that could be bought today in any hardware store or supermarket, an object that, contrary to a mobile phone or a computer could have been found at the wheelwright’s or the blacksmith’s since the beginning of time: a wheel. It may have been relevant to choose a wheel in order to facilitate the conformity of the distant past and the present, to bridge stereotype and archetype. (Written by Professor Fostrül, author of the absolute must “Enkuklio” in seven volumes)

Art has become modern ever since the moment it began to miror our daily life. (Catherine Millet)

From thing to word…

Beyond territories and nations, beyond space and time, the meaning contained by the wheel as an archetype underlies the same potential of value and shape as did the stereotype it was in Babylonian times. Other objects of our modern day-to-day life encompass this characteristic of preservation and transmission but there aren’t so many. A bowl, for example. Insofar as day-to-day life stereotypes follow the same pattern as the formation of letters and ideograms, it would be easily conceivable to consider the creation of an ideogram born of the object wheel to signify the concept of “movement”. In the same spirit, it would be just as realistic to imagine using the phonogram w, first sound perceived in the word “wheel”, or, in a more indirect and sophisticated fashion, the phonogram m, first sound heard in the word “movement” to replace these terms.

(Text adapted from R. Mutt – Hors Duchamp de l’Art – Ed. Art-Chaos)

The Objects

Adapted from R. Mutt – Hors Duchamp de l’Art (pun meaning: out of the artistic realm) – Ed. Art-Chaos. If a wheel were an object, it surely would be a disk that would turn and enable vehicles to travel or to roll (bicycle, car, truck…). In mechanical assembling, this kind of object could be, for example, a rigid disk that would turn on its shaft (toothed wheel). It could even be a form of torture, which consisted in tying a prisoner to quarter him. In fact, if a wheel were truly a wheel then we would know of it and, in that case, a cat would also be a cat. However, this is not the case.

The occult destiny of contemporary art was to initiate the emerging shapes of language by rerouting objects, materials and ideas taken from our daily environment. (James Brayes)

Stereotype. In linguistics, it is an object that has been given a name at some point in time.

Archetype. If we strictly follow the definition given by the philosopher K. G. Jung to the term archetype, it would be a primitive symbol born in the collective unconscious. The latter would diffuse and perpetrate itself in the individual’s residual imagination and in the people’s cultural productions. But Jung was a psychoanalyst and so he was deeply attached to symbols and their meanings. Thus, this definition becomes null and void because, in the case of pure language we remain in the realm of signs, which is one of the projections of the contemporary world. And we do not remain in the realm of symbol, dear to the practice of psychoanalysis and to medieval metaphors. We will also prolong K. G. Jung’s definition of the term and will accept the fact that archetypes are, in the end, archaic stereotypes selected by History (thus objects that have indeed been given a name at one particular point in ancient times). In other words, these archetypes have fossilized and now serve to measure the technical and intellectual advances of the human race.