Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Plagiarism By Anticipation: Like The Real Thing?

This morning I woke up to this: what an attachment – a false vagina. Makes a difference from all that Viagra. The strangest of attachments - strangely familiar: a real attachable attachment. Not the real thing, but like the real thing.
The email came in response to my ‘Picture Inspired by a Panda’ (23/5/2010). “Did you invent this? Or was it the other way round? Was your picture of a rider really inspired by a panda? It looks to me more like it was inspired by this - ‘like the real thing’ - vagina, the correspondent (and fellow Pataphysician) wondered. And being a disciple of Duchamp (how could he be my friend if he wasn’t?), he also included a quote from the great cigar smoker: “I want to make art to grasp the mind the way the penis is grasped by the vagina”.
Like The Real Thing, there’s a thing! No, I’m not the patentee of a pump-up vagina; what we’ve got here is a case of what Raymond Queneau coined as ‘plagiarism by anticipation’. Or to put it another way – given the horsiness of my original subject matter – ‘putting the horse before the tart’ (and I use the word original advisedly). But it’s wonderfully liberating to find possibilities in your work that often exceed those you anticipated. When a photograph that had been taken was found to have been taken before, the previous attempt could be called ‘plagiarism by anticipation’.
But which came first, the horse, or the tart (the panda inspiration, or the pump inflation)? I ask because the photograph was published in a book called 'Mrs Sharpe's Cracks', and a few years ago I came across a battered copy, in a secondhand bookshop in Earlsfield. Flicking through it I found someone had traced the jodhpurs and riding apparatus in the photograph we've been discussing: ironically, I'd traced a copy of my own book only to find one of my pictures had been copied! I bought my own book. To think, the image could exist – on some bedroom wall - as an original painting? Who knows, it’s conceivable that the tracing could have been used as the template for a sex toy? 'The real thing' would take on a whole (hole) new meaning. I hope not. I don’t think art should be stimulating.    

No comments:

Post a Comment