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David Lynch (Justin Stephens for the New York Times)

Deborah Solomon: Let’s start by contemplating the current fascination with the small screen.

David Lynch: That’s a terrible subject. There’s nothing like the big screen. The cinema is really built for the big screen and big sound, so that a person can go into another world and have an experience. As an example, there’s Stanley Kubrick’s “2001:A Space Odyssey” — this would be kind of a pathetic joke on a little screen.

DS: How do you feel about someone watching your films — “Eraserhead,” “Blue Velvet,” “Mulholland Drive” — on a laptop?

DL: More and more people are seeing the films on computers — lousy sound, lousy picture — and they think they’ve seen the film, but they really haven’t.

DS: Because the small screen emphasizes plot over visuals?

DL: It’s a pathetic horror story.

DS: On the other hand, you do appear on countless computer screens every day, giving a weather report from your home in Los Angeles, on your Web site.

DL: People are kind of interested in weather. It’s not artistic. It’s just me sitting there in my painting studio.

DS: Who films you?

DL: It’s a camera that comes down out of the ceiling.

DS: I hear you’re starting an online series on transcendental meditation, based on your book “Catching the Big Fish.” Is the small screen a good format for discussing meditation?

DL: Any format is a good format for meditation. Every single person has within an ocean of pure vibrant consciousness. Every single human being can experience that — infinite intelligence, infinite creativity, infinite happiness, infinite energy, infinite dynamic peace.

DS: Tell us about your foundation.

DL: The David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace — we raise money to give meditation to any student or school. There is a huge waiting list.

DS: As a devotee of cultivated bliss, how do you explain the proclivity for twisted eroticism and dismembered body parts in your films?

DL: A filmmaker doesn’t have to suffer to show suffering. You just have to understand it. You don’t have to die to shoot a death scene.

DS: Do you see yourself as an American Surrealist?

DL: Dennis Hopper called me that, and that is the way he sees it. It’s more than just Surrealism to me.

DS: I think of you as someone who transported the noir sensibility from the city into a Norman Rockwell setting. What do you think of his paintings?

DL: I love his work. It’s like Edward Hopper. They see a certain thing, and they catch it.

DS: What is that clock you’re holding in this photograph?

DL: I just didn’t want to stand there like an idiot. It’s an old clock, but I am building this plastic bubble around it.

DS: Is it a sculpture?

DL: In a way it is. You mentioned Surrealism, and time was very important to the Surrealists.

DS: But Dali painted melting clocks, and yours isn’t melting, is it?

DL: It’s not melting, no. But part of it is made of polyester resin, which at one time was liquid.

Deborah Solomon
New York Times

Review of the current show at the Tate Modern: Duchamp, Man Ray, Picabia (through May 26):

Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain, 1917. (image courtesy of Succession Marcel Duchamp/ Paris and DACS)

Duchamp, Man Ray, Picabia begins as a romp. It is full of surprises, a pantomime of nonsense symbolism, in-jokes, sexual images and wordplay of an often furtive, farcical and even bestial sort, leavened by intellectual cool (at least on Duchamp’s part), anarchism, nihilism (Picabia’s intellectual forte) and chess.

This is a very large exhibition, with more than 300 works: paintings, photographs, sculptures, readymades, films, chess sets, and a wealth of documentary material. There is much here I was previously unaware of. The show takes us from the early years of the 20th century to 1976, when the last of the trio, Man Ray, died. In between, there are shocks and surprises, dirty pictures and beautiful enigmas.

I thought I would be bored by Duchamp’s bicycle wheel, tired of his porcelain urinal and exhausted by the Large Glass. It is impossible not to hear a lecture on their relevance rolling round one’s head; the shock, never mind the thrill, has gone, and they have become icons, which in a way is their tragedy. Duchamp himself would have been bored. He would probably have been happier to hear the splenetic complaints of people who think that readymades are not art. He once told Richard Hamilton that he liked signing the bottle racks and snow shovels and other examples of readymades that people bought him, because it undermined the originals.

Yet, because of the atmosphere of exhilarating iconoclasm that pervades the early part of the show, these sacred relics regain something of their playfulness, and begin to look like images from a lost, more innocent world. Man Ray’s coat-hanger mobile floats in space; Duchamp’s snow shovel dangles from the ceiling with it, as though a riposte; Duchamp’s wooden Hat Rack swims through the air like an octopus with curly wooden tentacles. Man Ray’s Cadeau (or Gift), his best-known surrealist object – the flat iron with a row of nails welded to it – has become a stock object in surrealism’s thrift store of the subconscious, to be set alongside Dalí’s lobster telephone. This is a sad but inevitable fate.

Museums kill the things they love. In the context of this show, it is Man Ray who looks the weakest today. His Venus, bound in rope bondage, begins to look like an illustration to some essay on the male gaze. And if Picabia’s work has also suffered in the years since his death in 1953, it has been largely by neglect.

As well as charting the careers of the three artists, the exhibition traces their friendship, enthusiasms and the influence they had on one another. What we have here is a conversation in art that continued throughout their lives, with Duchamp the pivotal figure. Yet all three gained: they looked out for each other, indulged one another, egged each other on. Perhaps we might see them as the art world’s rat pack. What the exhibition also makes clear is that each retained their artistic independence; their voices and styles are never confused in the way that Picasso and Braque’s cubist-period works might be. Nor were Duchamp, Man Ray and Picabia three stooges: they shared no programme and invented no movement. And although they were associated with dadaism and surrealism, they each went their own way, with panache…

This exhibition and its accompanying catalogue do much to bring the complications, developing attitudes and complexities of these three artists to life. It also highlights changing social mores and the ways art has been made over the past century. Rather than presenting us with closure and academic posturings, Duchamp, Man Ray, Picabia makes the best of their art look vital again, dangerous and alive.

Adrian Searle
Guardian Unlimited