Considering Duchamp’s Art Coefficient

From Marcel Duchamp, The Creative Act. 1957.

In his speech, ‘The Creative Act’, Duchamp challenges conventional perspectives on the significance of the artist by outlining the struggle hidden inside most of us, our understanding of our own process and the validity we receive upon completion from our audience.

Duchamp’s perspective is that artists are treated as spiritual entities, as mere vessels for a higher artistic power, who pluck their work from the nether to gift us, their mere mortal audience. He asks us to question whether this is or is not reality, that perhaps we should consider the power in the role of the audience.

Audiences of the past have been the hidden sculptors of today’s popular and most appreciated art, through their collective power to pick and choose and gift influence to their preferred artists.

It is the fight between originality, wanting observers to understand the thoughts and ambitions of the artists own little world and conforming to modern day ideals. From my own experience working in art galleries, as well as selling my own artwork, I understand firsthand the importance of the observer. I have witnessed artists adjust their initial intention to fit the standards set by their audience and form an understanding in order to sell work and obtain credibility, thus the redirection of their realisation. It challenges the question, without an audience would it be art?

Art is subjective. No two perspectives are the same. The desire to accommodate the minds of others can act as a constant conflict for how we identify with ourselves as artists in addition to the expectations of a contemporary society. A balance would be to be mindful of your audience by expressing both yourself and your understanding in order to form a connection. This can be achieved by providing an explanation of your work through components such as your statement. However, in an attempt to aid a connection with the observer you could in fact sabotage the connection they felt with the artwork, by replacing it with the artist’s interpretation.

If, through industrious work and a lot of luck, the artist manages to get the audience on their side, they may now find themselves in a position of power where they are free to go against the concept of ‘art coefficient’. With this new found status they are able to push through new boundaries, to become the face of progression within their movement. To some degree, they are able to take back power, but must in some way still submit to the will of the audience, for without them, can they call them self an artist?

I have to think about how my work is considered from the audience's point of view, what emotions are stirred in not just myself but the intended viewer. When planning my work in future, I will consider it to be the by-product of the synthesis of creator and spectator's emotional wants and needs.

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