Copyright ©2001-2017 Marshall Rendina. All rights reserved.
80 Minutes, Over 350 Images
In 1917, Duchamp created a new way of producing art by transforming an object with function into one of aesthetic qualities and form. What has been considered functional or aesthetic at various points in history and in differing contexts is on occasion challenged in its purpose and meaning. The fountain has been used as a wishing well, a place for baptism and religious ritual, for scrying and reflection, for drinking, for bathing, washing, shaving, and for urination.
The underlying function of the fountain has been to provide water for drinking and washing, representing vitality and purity. The fountain has been used a symbol of prosperity and wealth without function other than for sitting, as public art in the centers of parks and educational institutions, and in the plazas of financial offices.
Now, its function, without water – essentially without aesthetic form, has diminished into a picnic table, a sink, a toilet, and a trash receptacle, in a society where dysfunction has arisen from the disruption of the natural aesthetics that nature has provided, some fountains having been salvaged and converted into beds for desert flowers and plants.
Photography and video now sometimes replace objects in conceptual art, being both concept and retinal art – an image of an object, just as it would be perceived by a human being, without the need for a tangible experience. This disregard for the actual human experience, or perhaps convenience of suspending and confronting reality has contributed greatly to the distance humankind has placed between themselves and nature, and the distance between the human experience and art, however more broadly available, accessible, and easy it is to create.