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Rotary Glass Plates

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In January 1920, Duchamp made (again) an optical experiment with the assistance of Man Ray. Making us of the fact that the eye retains an image for a fraction of a second after it diappeared, he built a motorized machine, ‘Rotary Glass Plates (Precision Optics)’. Segments of a circle were painted on five glass plates mounted on an electrically operated metal axis. Rubber strips connected the axis to the motor. The experiment was no success.

Three years later, Duchamp tried this experiment again, now using a turntable of a record player. He made a series of ‘Disks Bearing Spirals’ (1923) mounted on cardboard. This anticipated the spiral theme that would later appear in ‘Rotary Demisphere’ (Precision Optics, 1925) and in the film ‘Anémic Cinéma’ (1925-1926). The revolving disks produced a three-dimensional effect.



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