Thursday, March 04, 2010

The Way Things Go and Pass

Fischli and Weiss, Der Lauf Der Dinge (The Way Things Go), video, 30', 1987

Honda Ad, 2003

OK Go - This Too Shall Pass, 2009

I remember the choreographer João Fiadeiro once showing Fischli & Weiss's work during some seminar or workshop and talking about what in his mind made it so impressive: necessity. Although it might seem like anything can happen, what happens is exactly what needs to happen. A tautology that evolves in time? But isn't any proof precisely that - a dynamic tautology?
So is it because it's a proof that it's so appealing?
A proof of what?
Of how things go, we are tempted to say.
Which, of course, is just silly talk. It's precisely because things don't go this way that we enjoy it so much. It's because the unexpected becomes necessary.

What about this "evolution"? The work of art turned into a commercial turned into a music video. Don't expect any moral judgement on that. Actually, I enjoyed all three videos.
We could discuss the question of authorship. But we won't. (Fischli & Weiss threatened to sue Honda).
Here's what I've been pondering on: what exactly are the differences?
Because, once you've accepted that they're all in the same category (actually, this type of inventions is called either Heath Robinson contraptions (UK), or (more commonly) Rube Goldberg Machines (US) and have been in popular culture at least since the beginning of the 20th century), you can see into how very different they are.
So what makes it an art project, a commercial, a music video?
If we turn the volume off, what changes?
If we put music, or switch it from one video to another?
The timing, the materials, the way things go and pass.
What sort of universe appears in each of them?
Yes, that's precious: they each have their own universe. They are entities. You can easily find yourself around them, with their texture, their dynamics, their smell...
One more thing: aren't they each hiding in their specific ways this very basic urge for things to make sense?
If that is so, it's beyond necessity or discovery. It's the comfort of order. The sense that somewhere beyond the frame, things are just waiting to come into action, to move into view. And their potential is already in perfect harmony with the moment when they will become what they are meant to be. The best of possible worlds.
It shouldn't come as a surprize that these delicately balancing certainties remind us of childhood.


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