The retelling of a 200-year-old story running on Drexel University’s site The Smart Set can be more than a history lesson if a current art world story gets more ink.
The history in question focuses on a group of 19th-century textile artisans in England who protested the Industrial Revolution by wrecking factories and the machines in them. It took an army to quell the effort.
The current art world story is one that this column noted last year - a new manufacturing tool and one that this writer thinks could use some wrecking, too.
Called the Fabricator (Fabber for short), it’s a three-dimensional printing machine that makes a solid object from a blueprint on your computer screen. It could be anything – a lampshade, a violin, a car part – each made by a machine no bigger than a desktop printer. And for larger objects, there are larger printers.
Where are the Luddites when you need them?
If you can transform any 2-D image into a solid object, the downside is self-evident: the Febber spells the end of one-of-a-kind art as we know it.
Not that one-of-a-kind art abounds.
I’m thinking of the Ringling Museum's life-size aluminum statue of Don Quixote on horseback by Izhar Patkin, purchased for $100,000. There are five more exactly like it in other collections. The artist sculpted one in clay and a foundry cast it six times in aluminum. Talk about glittering generalities.
With the Fabber, who needs a foundry?
I’m thinking of Allan McCollum's colossal cement cookie jar, also in the Ringling Museum collection, one of 16 duplicates that sell for $18,000 each. A cookie-cutter cookie jar, if there ever was one.
I’m thinking of Sherrie Levine’s 12 identical bronze mirrors and 12 identical pink glass skulls. Her rationale? The duplication is meant to question the very value of originality. “Every word, every image is leased and mortgaged. We know that a picture is but a space in which a variety of images, none of them original, blend and clash.”
If you feel that way, Sherrie, why bother with an image or object at all? http://www.examiner.com/article/conceptual-art-love-it-or-hate-itWhy not dispense with making art and just present discorporate ideas? Why not abandon all the duplication and just hold public discussions about art?