Bicycle Wheel Muse Sick and on its Final Delay
This work is based upon Marcel Duchamp’s first readymade Bicycle Wheel (1913) and other works. The original idea for my work was to have a bicycle wheel placed perpendicular to the ground with a white pole extending from the center towards the ceiling and a black pole extending from the center towards the ground. Various emotional sounds from both male and female voices were to emanate from speakers attached to the rim of the wheel. Instead of following through with this idea, I decided I wanted to represent what I consider to be a single moment of a transformation from Duchamp’s Bicycle Wheel, which as exhibited at MOMA, employs a black bicycle fork, a white stool, and a white plinth all connected or touching one another. In my work, I am still using black and white, but they are placed differently. The pedestal, which happens to be an old conductor’s podium, sits on the floor. The bicycle wheel hangs from a wire attached to the ceiling. Another wire hanging from the ceiling supplies power to a low rpm motor turning the wheel slowly. The whole apparatus could be thought of as a reluctant conductor of sorts, dangling from it’s plinth on the ceiling, preferring to rest above the podium than to stand on it; like someone resisting the gradual dipping into cold water. The sounds of crying emanate from one speaker while sounds of motors emanate from the other. The person who I recorded for the voice over (crying) had what I consider to be a fairly androgynous voice. I didn’t want a voice that clearly belonged to a particular sex, although perhaps the resulting sound is more one than the other. The recorded motors were specifically tuned to aesthetically fit in with the melodies from the two looping music boxes (not present in this photo).
The connection of my wheel to Duchamp’s Monte Carlo Bond, has to do with his idea of eliminating chance and replacing it with a thinking force; a being of some kind. Duchamp explained about his roulette wheel “I believe I have eliminated the word chance. I would like to force the roulette to become a game of chess” (Schwartz 2000, 703). The Monte Carlo Bond is reminiscent of a medieval wheel of fortune or chain of being: the view to those on the outer part of the wheel is one of unpredictable, and perhaps meaningless, chance, while those in the center can predict or act as the first cause (i.e. primum mobile) of events. Those in the center of the wheel act upon those on the outer part while remaining unaffected or at rest themselves.
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