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found object

n. a natural object, or one manufactured for some other purpose, considered as a work of art

Found object

Found object originates from the French objet trouvé, describing art created from undisguised, but often modified, objects or products that are not normally considered art, often because they already have a non-art function. Pablo Picasso first publicly utilized the idea when he pasted a printed image of chair caning onto his painting titled Still Life with Chair Caning (1912). Marcel Duchamp is thought to have perfected the concept several years later when he made a series of ready-mades, consisting of completely unaltered everyday objects selected by Duchamp and designated as art. The most famous example is Fountain (1917), a standard urinal purchased from a hardware store and displayed on a pedestal, resting on its side. In its strictest sense art term "ready-made" is applied exclusively to works produced by Marcel Duchamp, who borrowed the term from the clothing industry while living in New York, and especially to works dating from 1913 to 1921.

Found objects derive their identity as art from the designation placed upon them by the artist and from the social history that comes with the object. This may be indicated by either its anonymous wear and tear (as in collages of Kurt Schwitters) or by its recognizability as a consumer icon (as in the sculptures of Haim Steinbach). The context into which it is placed is also a highly relevant factor. The idea of dignifying commonplace objects in this way was originally a shocking challenge to the accepted distinction between what was considered art as opposed to not art. Although it may now be accepted in the art world as a viable practice, it continues to arouse questioning, as with the Tate Gallery's Turner Prize exhibition of Tracey Emin's My Bed, which consisted literally of her unmade and disheveled bed. In this sense the artist gives the audience time and a stage to contemplate an object. Appreciation of found art in this way can prompt philosophical reflection in the observer.

However, as an art form, found objects tend to include the artist's output—at the very least an idea about it, i.e. the artist's designation of the object as art—which is nearly always reinforced with a title. There is usually some degree of modification of the found object, although not always to the extent that it cannot be recognized, as is the case with ready-mades. Recent critical theory, however, would argue that the mere designation and relocation of any object, ready-mades included, constitutes a modification of the object because it changes our perception of its utility, its lifespan, or its status.

Found object (music)

Found objects are sometimes used in music, often to add unusual percussive elements to a work. Their use in such contexts is as old as music itself, as the original invention of musical instruments almost certainly developed from the sounds of natural objects rather than from any specifically designed instruments.

The use of found objects in modern classical music is often connected to experiments in indeterminacy and aleatory music by such composers as John Cage and Karlheinz Stockhausen, although it has reached its ascendancy in those areas of popular music as well, such as the ambient works of Brian Eno. In Eno's influential work, found objects are credited on many tracks. The ambient music movement which followed Eno's lead has also made use of such sounds, with notable exponents being performers such as Future Sound of London and Autechre, and natural sounds have also been incorporated into many pieces of new-age music.

Found objects have occasionally been featured in very well known pop songs: "You Still Believe In Me" from the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds features bicycle bells and horns as part of the orchestral arrangements.

Einstürzende Neubauten became known for incorporating a wide range of found objects in their percussion gear. A more recent example of found objects being used as percussion instruments is Shawn "Clown" Crahan from the nu metal band Slipknot, who beats a beer keg with a baseball bat to the beat of the song. The Dodos also played a garbage bin as a part of their percussion gear. Wall of Voodoo drummer Joe Nanini would commonly use pots and pans instead of conventional drums. Many street drummers perform with empty plastic baskets.

The band Neptune uses VCR-casings, scrap metal and all kinds of other found objects to create experimental musical instruments. Also other builders like Yuri Landman, Harry Partch (his famous cloud chamber bowl instrument), Pierre Bastien, Iner Souster often incorporate found material in their works.

The use of found objects in music takes one of two general forms: either objects are deliberately recorded, with their sound used directly or in processed form, or previous recordings are sampled for use as part of a work (the latter often being referred to simply as "found sound" or "sampling"). With the improvement and easy accessibility of sampling technology since the 1980s, this second method has flourished and is a major component of much modern popular music, particularly in such genres as hip hop.

Usage examples of "found object".

Vonnegut: I couldn't, because the book was largely a found object.

This means that some of the detail will be accidental, in that it came along with the found object, and wasn't invented.

I abolished private property because Bellinzona is a found object.

The room was rather nice, large and airy, filled with kinetic sculptures and found object constructs that covered the walls and dominated the floor space.

The characters of my protagonist and antagonist were determined by the story I had to tell - by the fossil, the found object, in other words.