abstract recordings images transcript about


The Western Round Table on Modern Art (1949)


Curator's note:

In 2005, while a student at the San Francisco Art Institute, I was introduced to the work of Gregory Bateson, specifically through an essay titled, A Theory of Play and Fantasy (1955). I saw a lot of similar ideas present in the work of Duchamp and wrote an essay proposing to create a work that might amplify this connection. (The work I created can be viewed here.)

With this project came a personal epiphany. For the first time, I felt able to reduce my creative process to a set of very basic terms. I began researching Duchamp and Bateson, trying to find if they had ever been associated in any way. Pursuing this Bateson/Duchamp connection is what led me to the WRTMA.

The library at SFAI (also known as the Anne Bremer Memorial library) is where I first came into contact with these documents. After hearing from a professor that Duchamp and Bateson once co-chaired a symposium on art, I went to the library and walked into the unpublished archive of the WRTMA with audio!

Making this connection between Bateson and Duchamp, and then finding the WRTMA archive, my actions began to feel as if they were fated. I started spending most of my free-time studying the WRTMA, investigating this 'Duchamp/Bateson connection,' while also thinking of how I might be able to do something with it.

Eventually I was given permission to make cassette copies of the audio recordings and bring a scanner into the library with which I scanned most of the archive. The materials gathered from the archive then became the source material for a new project to make the WRTMA accessible.

The 'abstract,' here formatted for web, was taken from Robert Motherwell's 'Modern Artists in America.' (1950, out of print)

I would like to thank Stacy Garfinkel and Jeff Gunderson for their assistance.

Colby Ford
January 2008



Contact: wrtma@ubu.com.
Curated/adapted for web by Colby Ford. More by him here.
All copyrights are the property of their respective owners.