Brian Slesinsky's Weblog

Saturday, 03 Jun 2006

The Attention Trap

"Duchamp said he made the first one, the bicycle wheel, just because it was fun to spin the wheel around. But when you exhibit it, when you put it into an attention field called 'art,' it becomes a catalyst. You must look at it differently. Yes, we should indeed pay more attention to the utilitarian world, savor its beauty as beauty. But when you find yourself gazing at it worshipfully, Duchamp turns around and says, 'It's just a bicycle wheel, you silly jerk.' The final result is to make us oscillate back and forth between the physical world, stuff, and how we think about stuff. It makes us look at our own patterns of attention and the varieties of 'seriousness' we construct atop them."

- Richard A. Lanham