Marcel Duchamp


Over at Instagram I posted some photos of my Marcel Duchamp books, as well as images of the Philadelphia Museum’s 2009 catalog for Étant Donnés. BlackTape’s Aflame was included in the “Duchamp’s Legacy” section of the 448-page catalog, right below photos from David Lynch’s Blue Velvet!

Inspired by the ideas and art of French Cubist / Futurist / Conceptual artist Marcel Duchamp, As one aflame laid bare by desire explores the construct of desire and eroticism. Duchamp spoke of this metaphorically within his 1912 painting “The passage from virgin to bride.” His work was concept-driven, he said that his “Bride” could be read as a diagram for the mechanism of desire. This connected with ideas I had: finding oneself swept away by the passion and intensity of desire. Let’s call it “Desire as a catalyst.” Duchamp’s idea of desire as a mechanism inspired the machine that the character encounters in the final track on the album, “The passage.” I liked this idea that desire could be charted, could be plotted on an imaginary graph — I think I looked at love in that manner for years. I was very excited to find an artist who was also submerged in these same themes in his work.

Dr. Michael R. Taylor
Marcel Duchamp: Étant Donnés catalog
(available from Amazon)

In his cover letter, Dr Taylor wrote, “P.S. Your music was inspirational to me as I wrote this book, which I very much hope you will enjoy.”

The mention:

Musicians and composers also have been drawn to Étant Donnés. The American avant-garde composer and multi-instrumentalist John Zorn recorded Étant Donnés (69 Paroxyms For Marcel Duchamp) … /snip/ … Like Zorn, Sam Rosenthal, the creative force behind the band Black Tape for a Blue Girl, was inspired by Duchamp’s challenge to aesthetic norms in Étant Donnés, a work that defies categorization to this day. The band’s 1999 album, As one aflame laid bare by desire, was dedicated to Duchamp and includes the song “Given (1. The Waterfall 2. The Illuminating Gas).” Its lyrics are written from the point of view of the mannequin in Étant Donnés as she contemplates her passage from Virgin to Bride:

I want to stop thinking of love,
dreaming of love, defining love
I want to feel the earth below me… ravish me.

Given: the waterfall, the illuminating gas.
The bachelors: suitors at my call.
I used to dream of love as a machine; myself as the motor, erotic energy.

I’m ready to experience this love,
to look beyond this glass, leave concept for reality.
I want to feel the water immerse me…consuming me.

I want to leave behind this lauded virginity,
to experience love, to be taken by love.
I want to feel the sunlight upon me… overpower me.

Given: the waterfall, the illuminating gas.
The cinematic blossoming: halo of the bride.
I used to diagram love as a machine; myself as the motor, erotic energy.