APPROACHES - In The Words Of . . . .
From: Ferrier, Jean-Louis, Director and Yann le Pichon, Walter D. Glanze [English Translation]. Art of Our Century, The Chronicle of Western Art, 1900 to the Present. New York: Prentice-Hall Editions. 1988.
Gaston de Pawlowsky's Journey in the Land of the Fourth Dimension, published in 1912 while Duchamp was beginning work on his Large Glass, is preceded by a long theoretical preface in which the author explains his philosophical thinking. The postulation by modern science of the notion of N -dimensional spaces, which seems to find a rational basis in the laws of relativity, would, according to him, give rise to new metaphysical and spiritual laws. These are some of the reflections of this preface, which we have chosen to present below, despite their difficult reading because of the importance they held for Marcel Duchamp at the time.
What is meant by "the fourth dimension"?
It is the necessary symbol of an unknown without which the known could not exist. The fourth dimension in our world of three dimensions is the variable whose existence is indispensable in any equation of the human spirit but whose quality fades when one attempts to assign it a particular value. . .
The fourth dimension is that unknown without which the known could not exist
This eternal aspect of being, this immutable movement of thought, this permanent criticism of transitory forms, this perpetual crack of the whip that keeps the conscious world from crystallizing and falling asleep, this unknown that must always accompany the known as a complement, this fourth measure without which the other three could not integrally account for the Universe, this is what we call, for lack of a better word, the fourth dimension . . .
The fourth dimension represents the artistic side of life.
Thus, it is the role of the fourth dimension to complete our awareness of the Universe, to symbolize this immense, active, imponderable, immeasurable, and mysterious domain of art that we could never divorce from a general conception of the Universe without omitting the raison d'être of that Universe, its evolution, and its goal.
[An Exerpt From: Ferrier, Jean-Louis, Director and Yann le Pichon, Walter D. Glanze [English Translation]. Art of Our Century, The Chronicle of Western Art, 1900 to the Present. New York: Prentice-Hall Editions. 1988. p. 229]
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