Posted by: glue | June 19, 2008

Beauty (Hypotyposis)

“A 16-mm silent film, Un Voyage en Mer du Nord (A Voyage on the North Sea), 1973-74, paired with a thirty-eight-page, French-bound book that shares its title and ostensible subject matter: the pairing of a late-nineteenth-century amateur painting of an archetypal European ship and a twentieth-century photograph of a pleasure boat against a modern urban backdrop. The roughly four-minute film is projected on a retractable home-movie screen–a Broodthaers motif–and the book displayed on a simple wooden shelf, lit by a single spotlight.”

A voyage on the North Sea

Rosalind Krauss selected Broodthaers to represent our post-medium condition: a good choice to represent the post/modernist commitment to readymade, found, collage, second-order writing. The information archive is to electracy what the natural spoken language of Greek was to the inventors of literacy. These are the features to be generalized from Broodthaers’ film/book.

1) Appropriation: his composition begins with selection and combination of found images/texts (the two ships).

2) Mise-en-abyme structure (miniaturization): a composition is aesthetic when the material and the form participate equally with semantics (signifieds) to produce signification.

3) Reflexivity: the ship signifier is multi-valent. As signified (the ship as metaphor, as in Nietzsche’s imperative to “set sail”). As signifier (the detail, zoom in on the ship’s sail, made of canvas). As material support (the canvas of the painting as flat colored surface)

4) Filmic discourse: the ship images are stills; the movement of the film is that of cinematography itself.

Instruction: compose with every dimension of your material.


  1. Why “Beauty”?
    The old proportions no longer function to guide inference in the sublime conditions of the infoverse. The proportional ratio (A : B :: C : D) of analogy is broken at the hinges. The hinge must be reinvented, on which to hang new relationships. The artists are one source of this new order of inference, conduction, extending abduction, deduction, and induction (literate epistemology) beyond the region of common sense, by means of the coherencies created within individual works of art.

    Problem: The new inference is not intuitive, as was the old order of Beauty, grounded in the body of Eros. It must be learned, internalized, institutionalized in the curriculum (as it is in entertainment).

    Recommendation: do not cut the arts curriculum when the budget falls short. On the contrary, promote arts learning to the center of an electrate education. The electrate ratio is emerging in any case, and education has ceded in advance the site of invention to popular commercial culture.

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