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Interactive Installations : Cheap Imitation (2002)

15 moments from "Cheap Imitation"

"Cheap Imitation" is an homage to Marcel Duchamp. Duchamp was of course an inveterate re-user of existing works of art. In "Cheap Imitation", I have cut up Duchamp's "Nude Descending a Staircase" into the several hundred facets that make up the work. The faceted image is projected apporoximately life size (such that the nude is life-size) on a wall of the gallery. Each facet is interactive, ermerging from darkness only when there is movement in front of that facet's exact location in the painting. If there is no movement, the projection is all black. Small gestures like hand movements will draw one or two fragments into visibility. Full body movement across the whole painting reveals the entire work.

As a result, the work can be explored in a dynamic way consistent with Duchamp's desire to represent the dynamics of the movement of the nude in the act of decending the staircase. Interestingly, activating small sections fo the work sometimes results in images that echo the mechanical/organic feel and sparse layout of Duchamp's masterwork, "The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even".

For more about Duchamp as an important thinker about audience, interaction and subjectivity, see my paper "Transforming Mirrors" (Next)


Art Gallery of Hamilton, Hamilton, Canada.

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Copyright 2003 David Rokeby / very nervous systems / All rights reserved. 01/13/03