John Arndt, Mark Booth, M.W. Burns, Janice Clark, Dan Devening, Zach Formwalt, Susan Giles, Jim Lutes, Lou Mallozzi, Matthew Rich, Eli Robb, Nathaniel Robinson and Tiny Hairs. Essays by David Raskin and Carrie Lambert


Gahlberg Gallery
, College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn, IL. 2004

INFRA-THIN was a personal research and curatorial project funded by the Center for Interdisciplinary Research in the Arts at Northwestern University that took the form of an editioned, portable group exhibition featuring work by 15 artists, sound producers, writers and designers.  That project—packaged to include a book, CDs, DVDs, a poster and other ephemeral material—included text pieces, drawing and photographic images, installation documentation, sound works, film, and two foldable sculptures. The structure of the CIRA project was initiated with Duchamp’s Box in a Valise in mind. Started in 1936, Box in a Valise was Duchamp’s “portable museum” and included facsimiles of his major works up to 1935. The box included sixty-nine carefully reproduced objects organized in small suitcases much like a salesman’s sample case. The exhibition at the Gahlberg Gallery at the College of DuPage, offers the participants in INFRA-THIN an opportunity to place a public framework around what was originally designed to be a personal and interactive experience for the viewer. For the artists, the gap, the margin and the interstice become important coordinates in the production of work for this exhibition. The various pieces address the liminal and intermittent nature of this immaterial model devised by Marcel Duchamp. In the end, what is conjured up here suggests that within the “half-spaces”, fractures or crevasses of the substantive and the indeterminate lies the nominally definable.

The INFRA-THIN projects were inspired by Marcel Duchamp’s elusive concept of the infra-thin, a fourth-dimensional, separative phenomenon. In its most simplistic form, infra-thin is a kind of immeasurable difference or separation between two things; according to Duchamp, this separation is invisible and intangible, but otherwise manifestly present. It was within his concept of infra-thin that many of his most significant works were framed. According to Duchamp, infra-thin is present in the transparency of the Large Glass; it can be found when pondering the difference between a common bottle rack and Duchamp’s readymade art work Bottle Rack; and infra-thin is illustrated in the microscopic discrepancies in casts from identical molds. Duchamp used infra-thin to define the infinitesimal breadth of something without thickness. It gave him the means to characterize and identify subtle, unseen—but imagined—phenomenological occurrences. In his Notes, he illustrated infra-thin as the way one knows the presence of an absent person through the warmth of the chair seat from which they’ve just risen. With infra-thin, Duchamp found a perfect apparatus through which to measure that without definition, form or physical essence.

Dan Devening