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phenomenology of filmmaking

Der Lauf der Dinge (The Way Things Go), circa 2008

Three coincident events have caused me to re-examine Der Lauf der Dinge (The Way Things Go), a thirty-one minute black-and-white film by Fischli & Weiss, which follows an unmanned chain reaction of low tech events orchestrated in their Zurich studio in 1987. In its broad object humor, material pathos, fanciful appetite for destruction and commitment to an inexorable linearity of cause-and-effect, it is often compared to the "machines" of the cartoonist Rube Goldberg.

First Event. A video of the piece, owned by MoMA in New York, is installed as an introduction to the new Artist's Choice exhibition at MoMA by artist Vik Muniz, entitled Rebus. It is projected in a third floor hallway, just outside the main galleries, as a prefatory comment or demonstration of Muniz's organizing thesis, suggesting the associated "chain" of sculptures, design objects, photographs, drawings, editions, installations and paintings, drawn from MoMA's collection, which he has selected and arranged within.

While the aesthetic cause-and-effect implied by Muniz is neither as linear nor as determined as in The Way Things Go, he does create many instructive continuities and discontinuities, formal similarities and purposeful confusions between "high art" and design objects. These playful double and triple takes, engendered in the audience, inform the entire exhibition and also echo strategies of the meta- which have been the subject of Muniz's own work for years. Interestingly, another F&W piece, Things from the Room in the Back, a room-sized installation from 1999, is also featured in its own separate space.

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