Insisting that Marcel Duchamp is untimely even in relation to the contemporaneity of the contemporary art he supposedly inaugurated with his swift traversal of mediums and genres, reconstructing in detail the entire trajectory of his oeuvre, and demonstrating how the anartist’s constructivism of the signifiant cuts off art from the aesthetic regime and exposes the phallacious givens of oculist
desire, Duchamp Seen (From the Other Side), as a self-contained work, constitutes a major disruptive event in Duchamp scholarship; it is also the central ‘hinge’ volume in Alliez and Bonne’s genealogy of contemporary art, Undoing the Image.

Duchamp Seen opens by opposing Duchamp to Matisse via the perverse form of Bergsonism instrumentalised by the former in order to slip between the twin snares of Cubism and Futurism. In a first passage, overdetermined by the popularisation of scientific advances
which obsolesced the ‘immediate data of the senses’, the discovery of new non-Euclidean geometries, and the invention of chronophotography, Duchamp takes from each of these only what he needs in order to exit into a cold diagrammatic regime unenlivened by any universal dynamism or élan vital. In the parodically scientific experiment of 3 Standard Stoppages, the intervention of chance, addressed here in a way that goes significantly beyond its usual interpretation, signals both the advent of the readymade and a Jarryesque will to ironically suspend all certainty and transmute the ideals of science into a mordant joke. Duchamp’s pursuit of the most extreme consequences of conventionalism and nominalism then leads him to formulate anew the principle of contradiction, expanding his antiscience into an antiphilosophy which, with its ironic games of dis-measurement and wordplay, menaces the communication of sense and threatens to topple the standard-stallion of the master signifier, amplifying rather than pacifying the great epistemological crises that heralded the dawn of the twentieth century.

The passage between gender positions, the trans-formation of Duchamp himself into Rrose Selavy, is then only the most ‘literal’ manifestation of an eversion operated by his exploratory passages between genres, in search of an extimate relation to art. The topology of the Klein bottle maps the breakdown of Aristotelian binarity (either/or, inside/outside), rediscovered in ever more contorted forms, up to the ‘erotic objects’, at once chaste and ‘animalic’, upon which the volume concludes.

Having made a child behind the back of Duchamp, it is only to be expected that Duchamp would return the favour…. Immediately suspending any suggestion of self-containment or conclusion, Duchamp With (and Against) Lacan further extends or involutes Duchamp Seen (From the Other Side), as the monstrous post-Deleuzo-Matissean Duchamp constructed by Alliez and Bonne returns to wreak his revenge by sending everything sliding off the rails in an entirely different direction. This other side of the Other Side grows out of passages grafted from the first book, but very quickly a proliferating skein of new connective tissue renders them mutoid, unrecognisable…