Marcel Duchamp and Max Enrst and Dadaism!

Essay by AffineeUniversity, Master'sA-, September 2003

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Duchamp made a well-known statement about chance. He states:

I don't think that the public is prepared to accept canned chance. This depending on coincidence is too difficult for them. They think everything has to be done on purpose by complete time they will come to accept chance as a possibility to produce things. In fact, the whole world is based on chance, or at least is a definition of what happens in the world we live in and know more than any causality...if I do propose to strain a little bit the laws of is because I would like you to think them unstable to a degree (Roberts, p. 62).

Duchamp asserts that: (1) the world is based on chance (Poincaré's view of probabilistic systems); (2) his mechanism, along with chance, can be used to produce objects (precisely what Duchamp did with his Large Glass, notes and readymades); (3) as a consequence of accepting fixed perspective and the limited Newtonian "cause equals effect" explanation of causality, the public is not used to the concept of chance as a means for creativity.

Spectators don't yet know the new, broader perspective of Poincaré's probabilistic machines, where simple cause and complex effect are unlinked but still related, albeit non-linearly; and finally, (4) Duchamp tells us that he wants to strain laws of physics and mathematics (Newtonian cause and effect) to let us know that, from Poincaré's new perspective, the phenomena of nature, and the laws themselves, are in fact literally unstable and subject to chance! As Duchamp stated, his "interest" in "pure chance" (of probabilistic systems) was "a means to combat logical reality" or the fixed, limited perspective of determinism (DeDuve, p. 248).

So when Duchamp says that the readymades "are completely different from the Large Glass" and that...