Member’s Voice: Originality – A Waste of Time! By David James Doody

Heinz Chili con Carne

Ceci n’est pas an original!


Hey Peter,

I am finally having a few moments of rest, just long enough to drop you a line. I had been meaning to drop you a note for a while now, actually I had thought to add a comment in regard to the blog on dadaism. Both Jorden and I were stoked, to say the least, to be included in such a pertinent discussion. Thank you for that. Without too much focus on pride, it feels good to have our work mean something to others, especially to those who are interested in art.

It’s Sunday morning, French toast and toasted pecans… but as I was saying, it was a good debate on dadaism today, and especially on the relevance of the “ready made”, and the notions of the loss of heart in art. For us, this cusp is a very interesting and fully charged place to be working, but, in all honesty, to come to writing a fully immersed position on art, artmaking, and the world of viewership – well, that really deserves more than a shorthand electronic dialogue between two super enthusiasts, but in reality… that is all I have to offer up at this stage of the morning… But as I imply from your earlier rebuttal, the sincerity of humor is so often overlooked as legitimate, valid place for art making. Now, I’m not trying to push the potency of irony, nor the surgical precision of sarcasm. I am just referring to humor in general. Generally speaking, if a work is not connected with serious connotations, it is often not taken seriously. Perhaps it is my own sheltered naivety that allows me at times to bask and revel in the not so serious nature of natural life, in the beauty of the moments in between. And perhaps my early introduction and fascination with the likes of Monty Python has persuaded me to “always look at the bright side of life”. In my opinion humor is often sadly discredited in art. But in saying so, like anything, art making and the reflections of life are not one-sided, but multi-dimensional, so humor is one side of a pervertible coin.

In regards, more specifically, to the concept of the “ready made” in contemporary art – I agree that the Duchampian notion of the “ready made”, at its time in its original context, had a certain potency seldomly found in current practices. However, I believe this is for a multitude of reasons. One of them being the “well that’s been done”. And we all know that sort of president can easily rob new material of its punch line (and now again I’m going to try not to fall into a discussion of the pertinence of Duchamp to his time and ours, due solely to the lack of commitment, energy and my interest in the beating of dead horses or overstating the obvious…).

I guess those concerns are lost on those who struggle in search of the “original”. And I say fuck that shit! I mean – what a waste of time that is! Isn’t the devotion to “originality”, and the search for wholly new artistic ideas, idioms, methods and motives, one of the most unoriginal positions one can take on as an artist? Aren’t the concrete assertions of an individual to complete and utter originality both in the same breath wonderfully, uniquely, enriching, inspiring as well as completely constricting, misdirected, naive and just a little redundant?

So what’s the use of “ready mades”, now that I’m no longer worried if they are a valid original or unique? “Ready mades” are like colors. Just one type of tool. One type of mark in the plethora of residual, excreting expressions so many of us refer to under the umbrella of “art”. And since I’m not chained down to anything here, I’m again free to make rogue collisions of colors, materials, images, items or what ever else might find its way into the realm of my mind.


“Rogue collisions of colors, materials, images, items…” – Jorden Blue and David James Doody, “right window” (detail-3), 2008 (http://www.artdoxa/com/users/thedoodys/artworks/13119)


Sure, people have made full investigations into the autonomy of colors, their stand-alone qualities, their own “originalities”, and here I do not attempt to lay out judgements of good or bad or ugly. However, those investigations rarely interest me to the point of elation or anything. And I must admit I never really stoked, even when sitting in person in front of Yves Klein blue, but I guess he was stoked enough to keep moving with it… more power to him. For me, it has always been the dialogue, the internal conversations that exist between aspects of a work. The conversations that all at once include and exclude you, that are explicit or rather undefined – the space between what I hear and what it is I think I have heard.

And this is where I can agree with Michael Pointer and Charles Zigmund (Why more Dadaism? – by Charles Zigmund; ( – that art (lets call it for the sake of fun neo-dadaistic) seems , at times, at least from my point of view, to lack something. But I’m not going to try and say it is a formulatable thing which I can point out, nor am I going to put forth that artists choose to use “ready made” materials because of lack of talent – that is far too narrow a view. Or that there is some power struggle set up between the users of found goods (which, I should point out, includes any one buying pre-ground pigmented paints and store bought brushes) and the purist “fine artists” who can create out of pure “original geniousity”. I believe that each and every one of us truly sets up context and dialogue for one another, like some simple base equation.


“Each and every one of us truly sets up context and dialogue for one another…” – Jorden Blue and David James Doody, “even as a young boy…”, 2008 (


However, I do feel (and this may just be a bit of pessimism locked deep down in my core, extending outwards far beyond just my feelings on artists and art works, on to the world at large…) a lot of people lack a sense of heart in what they do, a lack of conviction, perhaps futility – as if their actions have no real consequence and make no real difference. And that in itself saddens me a bit, but I guess not that much…

I like to believe there is some kind of resonance that can be felt as some kind of truth to honesty, following that honesty somwhere along some kind of path… and that is something I really sense from your short introduction and conversation with Jochen Hein ( ). Although I’m very much in a different space than he in so many ways, I felt I could really identify with something there. He suggested a personal search – and relation of that search – through art and the potential of residual transcendence ( and experience captivated or at least related to in the making of art.

All the same, this is turning out more of a rant than anything else. Hah! Go figure… bad habits die hard… I’m going back to my toasted pecans which seem to have burned…



(Photos: HEINZ Chili con Carne – Peter Bies, all rights reserved;
“right window (detail-3)” and “even as a young boy…” – Jorden Blue and David James Doody, all rights reserved)

6 thoughts on “Member’s Voice: Originality – A Waste of Time! By David James Doody

  1. I think ‘original’ works best with concepts and philosophy. If an idea has been participated in before and the person is not aware of it, then I think it is still original. I remember having many conversations with my students at university about how they wanted to make photos like Ansel Adams. After explaining Adams’s work and how they could do it very few of them were interested in continuing but they did pursue new ideas that they came up with in photography. None of those projects were original either but they didn’t know that. I can still look at someone’s work and tell how far they are along in their creativity learning process. So I guess what I’m saying is that I used their search for what is original as an educational tool. Most mature artists I know don’t worry about how original a concept is, instead I see them apply those ideas to the vision of what they are creating.
    I agree with you about humor. It does get short shrift when a not so famous artist uses it. I guess we have to get thousands of people to laugh at our work before it really sells.

  2. Great to read your words, David. Let the pecans burn – I could listen for hours.
    I hope to hear more of your member´s voice!

    We all live by ready mades – Duchamp was the first to confront us with this truth. Humour is essential … this is not what Charles is so tired of, as far as I understood. What bothers me as well these days – but not too much – is not only a lack of “heart” in many artits positions: It is the way nearly everyone seems to accept that an attitude is an appropriate substitute for authenticity. And the anti-art attitude is the most hollow attitude of all.

    I can´t help it, but originality is a very fragile thing. If you look close how hard it is to reach, it is a shy adorable animal. Ok, authenticity can be a curse. But what else am I looking for when going to a concert, movie, when reading a book, listening music. Why the hell should I drop my expectations when it comes to art?

    But leading people in art world tell nowadays that the entity of content and form is no longer valid. No longer the “what”, just the “how” counts and fuck originality, hey, it´s a world wide casting show etc..
    They do it just because it is much easier to carry on with what they deal and – here I get back to the topic: because an anti-art-ideology has delivered the arguments for that. Good old Duchamp himself is not to blame – he is in fact on my side I feel.

    My stomack is telling me I have to burn my toast now, Cheers.

  3. Well done, David, and all between toast and pecans! We here in Hamburg prefer smoked fish, Friesentea and Rundstücke (buns) for breakfast but your stuff seems to work, too.
    I ve just visited your site – respect! Very liberating, inspiring and funny – especially the wedding photo! So now i have to join Jochen and burn my Rundstück.
    (Heidegger, Heidegger, was a boozy beggar who could think you under the table…)

  4. David – what you said about the lack of conviction…
    Isn’t it about time for artists to take a stand?

    And to be, you know, like, more political again? Huh?

    To answer to the question where to put your heart and soul?

    Taking sides MAKES A DIFFERENCE.
    It’s a matter of making up your mind.
    A matter of existential, crucial decisions.

    And that, of course, can be painful.

    But in my experience, any decision is better than none.

    Irresolution,indifference – that’s a disease.

    The most agonizing state of mind I know.

    And the most powerless condition there is for anybody.

  5. helllo all, i have only but one moment left on this last euro of internet service, and i would like to thank peter for including imagery with my last note to him, but i must point out to any viewers that the image used first of a golden cat with toliet paper rolls was a part of collaborative work with a fellow artist, Kyle Zsombor, and for that particular image he deserves credit…. but i think kyle, would at the very least crack a smile at my earlier postion on originality….

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