Duchampian reflections on Descartes
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POPULAR INQUIRY: The Journal of the Aesthetics of Kitsch, Camp and Mass Culture, 6(2022):1
AbstractThe work of Marcel Duchamp occupies a unique and enigmatic place in the history of modern Western art. Starting with his striking cubist painting Nude Descending a Staircase, Duchamp quickly turned modern art upside down with the succession of Readymades that followed. These culminated in Étant Donné, presumably an environmental sculpture but more accurately an environment that incorporates the viewer. Using this as a model for a parallel analysis of Descartes’ cogito, the claim is made that a similar presence is implicit in the method of doubt, and that this renders Descartes’ argument circular. Recognizing this exposes the error of objectification in both cases and confirms the contextual character of art and knowledge.
Circularity, Descartes, Doubt, Duchamp, Étant Donné, Meditations, Readymades, Voyeur