X views of the origin

Douglas Edric Stanley


X Views of the Origin, Douglas Edric Stanley

It is a well-known fact that the brilliant but troubled “father” of French psychoanalysis, Jacques Lacan, owned the scandalous 19th century painting by Courbet, L’origine du monde. It is also a well established fact that Lacan kept the painting hidden in his country residence, notably behind another painting he had comissioned from Masson. Special guests were allowed quick peeks of the ‘dirty painting’, through a system designed around a simple hinge.

The website “X vues sur l’origine(X views of the origin) was created in 1998 for the exhibition L’image n’est pas seule, however has not been officially viewed by any afficionados of high art. In fact there was no official link to the website. One can only reach the site through on-line search engines, where one must type sexist explicatives in order to fall onto the link. Once there, one is met with a series of “views” onto the origin [1, 2, 3, 4, …] based on Lacan’s infamous “functions” of the psyche: Objet petit ‘a’, Aphanasis, Alétheia, -PHI…

With each view of the origin, a page counter is augmented, affecting the painting according to whichever of the algorithms or functions has been chosen. In the case of the -Phi (the little phallus in Lacanspeak) the painting shrinks with each visit. The Aphanasis function causes the image to fade, and the Objet ‘a’ takes a pixel out of the image, one per visit.

Update: Due to the success of the views, there are no longer any visible images on the website.