RECOMMENDED READING: Marx After Duchamp, or The Artist's Two Bodies

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Excerpt from Marx After Duchamp, or The Artist's Two Bodies by Boris Groys on e-flux. Groys offers a portrait of artistic production and labor as it relates to technology, Duchamp's readymade, and the artist's body:

Gillian Wearing, Everything in life…, 1992-1993, from the series Signs that say what you want them to say and not signs that say what someone else wants you to say, color coupler prints. via e-flux

At the turn of the twentieth century, art entered a new era of artistic mass production. Whereas the previous age was an era of artistic mass consumption, in our present time the situation has changed, and there are two primary developments that have led to this change. The first is the emergence of new technical means for producing and distributing images, and the second is a shift in our understanding of art, a change in the rules we use for identifying what is and what is not art...

 As masses of people have become well informed about advanced art production through biennials, triennials, Documentas, and related coverage, they have come to use media in the same way as artists. Contemporary means of communication and social networks such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter offer global populations the ability to present their photos, videos, and texts in ways that cannot be distinguished from any post-Conceptualist artwork. And contemporary design offers the same populations a means of shaping and experiencing their apartments or workplaces as artistic installations. At the same time, the digital “content” or “products” that these millions of people present each day has no direct relation to their bodies; it is as “alienated” from them as any other contemporary artwork, and this means that it can be easily fragmented and reused in different contexts. And indeed, sampling by way of “copy and paste” is the most standard, most widespread practice on the internet. And it is here that one finds a direct connection between the quasi-industrial practices of post-Duchampian art and contemporary practices used on the internet—a place where even those who do not know or appreciate contemporary artistic installations, performances, or environments will employ the same forms of sampling on which those art practices are based. (And here we find an analogy to Benjamin’s interpretation of the public’s readiness to accept montage in cinema as having been expressed by a rejection of the same approach in painting)...

 

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