The Way Things Go

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The Way Things Go
Still from the way things go.jpg
Film still from The Way Things Go
Directed by Peter Fischli and David Weiss
Written by Peter Fischli and David Weiss
Release dates 1987
Running time 30
Country Switzerland

The Way Things Go (German: Der Lauf der Dinge) is a 1987 art film by the Swiss artist duo Peter Fischli and David Weiss. It documents a long causal chain assembled of everyday objects, resembling a Rube Goldberg machine.

Description[edit]

The art installation was in a warehouse, about 100 feet long, and incorporated materials such as tires, trash bags, ladders, soap, oil drums, old shoes, water, and gasoline. Fire and pyrotechnics were used as chemical triggers. The film is nearly 29 minutes, 45 seconds long, but some of that is waiting for something to burn, dissolve, or slowly slide down a ramp. The film is presented as a single sequence of events, but careful observation reveals over two dozen film edits.[1]

The film evolved out of work the artists did on their earlier photography series, "Quiet Afternoon", (German: Stiller Nachmittag) of 1984-1985. As the delicately unstable assemblages they constructed for the photos were apt to almost immediately collapse, they decided that they wanted to make use of this energy.[2] The film may also have been inspired by the video work of fellow Swiss artist, Roman Signer. The artists undoubtably saw his video work which was exhibited at the Kunsthaus Zürich in 1981.[3] Signer's videos often document objects performing simple actions that are the result of physical phenomena.

Copyright dispute with Honda[edit]

In May 2003, Fischli and Weiss threatened legal action against Honda over similarities between the Cog commercial and The Way Things Go. The artists felt that the ad's creators had "obviously seen" their film, and should have consulted them. Fischli and Weiss had refused several requests to use the film for commercial purposes, though Honda claimed that this was irrelevant as their permission was not needed to create new works with some elements similar to their previous works.[4] Honda's advertising firm Wieden+Kennedy eventually admitted to copying a sequence of weighted tires rolling uphill. The controversy was blamed for denying Cog a Grand Prix at the 2004 Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival.[5]

Exhibitions[edit]

The movie was a public highlight of the doumenta 8 in Kassel, Germany (June - September 1987), and is on permanent exhibition in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, and in the Museum Wiesbaden in Wiesbaden. It is also part of Centre Georges Pompidou's collection in Paris.

As of December 2011, the film is on display in the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow, Scotland; the "Sir Isaac's Loft" section of the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, PA; the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Copenhagen, Denmark; and it was shown on rotation with other short art films at British Columbia's Robson Square Celebration Site outside the Vancouver Art Gallery during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.

Until January 2009 it was also shown at the Western Australian Museum in Perth as part of the temporary exhibition "Experimenta Playground". It was also displayed in the summer of 2010 in the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris.

This film is also currently being screened at the MALBA in Buenos Aires, Argentina, at the MACM in Montréal, QC, Canada, and at the Mead Gallery of the Warwick Arts Centre in Coventry, UK.

The film is also available on DVD.

Awards[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Millar, Jeremy (2007). Fischli and Weiss : The way things go. London: Afterall. pp. 35–36. ISBN 9781846380358. 
  2. ^ Danto, Arthur C. “'Fishli/Weiss': Play/Things.” In Peter Fishli and David Weiss: In a Restless World. Edited by Janet Jenkins and Kathleen McLean (Minneapolis: Walker Art Center, 1996). Page 103.
  3. ^ Mack, Gerhard. “'Modulations of Time and Space': The Work of Roman Signer.” In Roman Signer. (London: Phaidon, 2006). Page 86.
  4. ^ Cozens, Claire (2003-05-27). "Acclaimed Honda ad in copycat row". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-04-22. 
  5. ^ "Close-Up: Live issue - When copywriting ends and copyright begins.". Campaign. October 19, 2007. Retrieved 2008-04-22. [dead link]

Further reading[edit]

  • Millar, Jeremy; Fischli and Weiss: The way things go (One Work series); London: Afterall (2007); ISBN 9781846380358

External links[edit]