From The Comment Section: Breaking Down the Lynchsons

by Paddy Johnson on October 29, 2010 · 23 comments Opinion

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Yesterday I compared Rashaad Newsome’s Conductor collage to Duarte’s The Lynchsons [above], wondering if the two suffered similar limitations. Does the Duarte collage transcend its source material? AFC commentor Beau offered some of the most illuminating commentary on the work:

I’m not sure that Duarte is doing the same thing as Newsome. This is sketchy, but maybe one way to think about it is that Duarte is interested in how “difficult” form interacts with the cultural peculiarities of material, whereas Newsome is treating the mashup as more of a readymade form for for cultural commentary. Where Newsome syncs everything up, exploiting a kind of universality of gesture, Duarte breaks everything apart into weird little pieces.

Here’s another excellent example of disintegrative Simpsons art by Jack Perkins:

Tom Moody adds to this:

The “difficult” elements of the Duarte make us think about the source material more and it’s therefore better than the Newsome, which repackages what we already know.


jessepatrickmartin October 29, 2010 at 3:45 pm

In regards to how Duarte collapses/redoubles/remixes an animated, stylized, and fluid “illustrative” line into itself (to make one kind of abstraction – cartooning – more explicit through density and layering): Arturo Herrera kind of did an “analog” version of this with his Disney compressions (

Dart October 31, 2010 at 2:12 am

I’ll just leave this here…

Anonymous October 31, 2010 at 3:30 am

In the previous thread Howard claims the Duarte doesn’t make him view the Simpsons or animation conventions any differently than he did before. Jesse states well the effect the video has of making “one kind of abstraction – cartooning – more explicit through density and layering.” For example, when you take away Homer’s yellow skin (why is it yellow?) and replace it with a recursive void of old episodes (or pieces of this same episode spooling in a different time continuum), his beige beard stubble makes him look like an ape. And Lisa has three fingers, which you especially notice when her skin turns into a dark silhouette. Is she mutilated? Do all family members have this deformity? I enjoyed the musicality of Nelson’s high pitched laugh.and learned from this video that he is voiced by a woman. Maybe others could list tropes this video made them notice in the Simpsons.

Dart October 31, 2010 at 3:53 am

I’d be interested in a discussion about why nobody bothers to invite artists to a discussion of their work, particularly in this brave new internet age when all one has to do is send an email. My last comment didn’t seem to get through, possibly because it wasn’t wordy enough, or possibly because the introduction of the creator to a discussion of his work generally destroys the discussion with the addition of excessive facts and reasons.

Anonymous October 31, 2010 at 6:37 pm

Hi Dart,I’ve approved your video link, though if you register with Disqus your comments will be approved automatically. I typically don’t approve links without looking at them first, so this in part accounts for the delay. As it happens the video itself also doesn’t respond to the content of the post — it’s mostly an aggressive attack on critics — so it took some time to decide what to do with it. I don’t think name calling takes the discussion in a productive direction, and it’s normally grounds to block commentary. I’m approving it now, but the insults will need to stop for a conversation to come out of this. As for the video and the follow up comment, I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on the simpson mash-up itself. I understand you don’t like the criticism, but neither response talks about your intentions while making the video, and that’s something I think everyone would be really interested in hearing. I look forward to your response!

Dart October 31, 2010 at 9:26 pm

The video was never intended to be an attack, it was just a hastily assembled and poorly planned reaction to a discussion of something I never expected to be discussed. I think there’s some cool stuff going on here and I wanted to take part in the conversation in a way that I felt was consistent with my work; If I come right out and speak openly in this discussion as I do now, I sacrifice some the mystery that prompted the discussion in the first place and lose power as a creator, but if I do nothing then I have no voice in my own work at all.

sally October 31, 2010 at 5:51 pm

Homer-Ape connections are drawn frequently on the Simpsons. Also jokes about numbers of fingers. Not seeing how this work is adding much there. Also, learning more about the Simpsons is a low priority on my to-do list. What I do like quite a bit is how this video shows the identifiable characters as voids, or maybe portals – entities comprised of shifting (multi-racial?) properties. That’s the abstraction kicking in to form new inferences.

Someone (not me) could probably make a pretty extensive collection of instances of the Simpsons used as a cipher for the human condition. It is the premise of series, after all — the North American, white, middle class human condition, anyhow. This video frags the hegemony, but only a little. Ultimately it’s more of a meme-riff than an alternate universe.

sally October 31, 2010 at 6:11 pm

Hi Dart. Paddy’s a good moderator…you didn’t try to post anonymously, did you? Anyway, it seems to me that people on this blog are generally pretty happy when creators join the discussion, and it happens quite a bit. What’s up?

Frankgcrimes October 31, 2010 at 7:41 pm

While I agree with where this discussion is headed, can we really say Duarte leaves abstraction up to the viewer? It’s somewhat of a dichotomy in my mind honestly. We’ve seen this before in (al biet) warmer circumstances in works from Richenberg and even fellow (pre-internet) computer artist ‘Kloeney’. As far as The Simpsons go as a cultural force and ‘meme’ it’s interesting to note the resistance in other mediums with respect to remixing it/repurposing it. Is it not kosher to talk about that which is pop?

Anonymous October 31, 2010 at 9:18 pm

“Dart,” you have a hard time recognizing when compliments are paid to you. People *like* this work!! As for apes and fingers, sorry that’s all I could come up with. I lost interest in the Simpsons when I found out recent Ivy League graduates were writing it (this was about 10 years ago–I thought it was Matt Groenig!). But am always interested in work that derails the mechanics of popular entertainments running on networks such as Rupert Murdoch’s, and would like to see YouTube “glitching” replace TV’s faux transgression and facile insights. The chaos is its own best message.

Anonymous October 31, 2010 at 9:27 pm

The “ending” of Duarte’s clip is the same as the beginning, except that laundry-carrying Marge has been possessed by the eternally-laughing Nelson — and the frustrated, backwards-stairs-walking Homer decides to attempt an escape on a helicopter (flight-footage of this plays earlier in the clip on the “skins” of the characters). This end-where-we-began device is standard sitcom fare, though Duarte’s processing makes this convention seem especially hellish/purgatorial (like Groundhog Day, but on acid and inflected with the backwards-talking à la Twin Peaks — which I guess is why Duarte calls his ‘The Lynchsons’).

Despite the warping and glitching, Duarte’s “meddling” with the episode leaves its most basic narrative conventions intact: focus on the family, their home, and their friends/antagonists — with, of course, plenty of madcap, referential flourishes (i.e. dogs playing poker).

I guess that you could substitute any sitcom cartoon family (Flintstones, Jetsons), though there’s something interesting about how Duarte played with & presented the episode with tools and in a format that developed parallel to the series itself. There are also really nice moments featured (Nelson taking a picture of Lisa taking a picture of the dogs playing poker, Marge reading “Meddling Today”) that show a consideration and self-awareness of the meta-mixing that Duarte’s subjected the episode to.

Duarte’s clip also reminded me of how sketchy, short, and grotesque the original Simpons intersticials were on The Tracy Ullman show (

Anonymous November 1, 2010 at 4:09 am

thx for the close reading and confirming my guess that “pieces of this same episode [were] spooling in a different time continuum”

Anonymous November 1, 2010 at 1:55 pm

Well, it helped that I was humorlessly clutching my thesaurus as I studied the clip with my monocle…

Anonymous October 31, 2010 at 9:48 pm

Well I guess I’ll leave it up to you as to whether you’d like to comment. I’m of the mind though that the conversation would be better for your participation. You’re the artist — direct the conversation.

Anonymous October 31, 2010 at 10:00 pm

Sometimes when an artist demonstratively balks at a certain type of engagement with their own work, it can come off as the worst kind of posturing:

Dart November 1, 2010 at 2:25 am

I’ll not deny posturing, but I think there’s a difference between this in a gallery setting and Youtube. I’m trying to entertain first and foremost, mainly myself but if others find it worthy of viewing all the better, and I figured a place called Art Fag City might like terrible, unfunny art jokes. I don’t know anything about Zak Smith but from what I read it sounds like he just doesn’t want to give any straight answers about his work, and I applaud his efforts. If you can summarize your art in a few sentences, why bother painting? Maybe that’s oversimplifying the issue but really, what’s wrong with playing the game? Whatever the artist says about the art becomes part of the art itself and if keeping quiet is part of it then so be it; seems to have worked out pretty well for Salinger and Pynchon.

Anonymous November 1, 2010 at 3:05 am
Anonymous November 1, 2010 at 3:15 am

If you’re seeking entertainment first then maybe this isn’t your most successful work by those standards. It’s a little long and your YouTube manipulation of the baby pregnancy test holds together much better in that respect.

For all the time you’ve spent complaining that the blog has drawn unfair conclusions you’re busy drawing a fair number yourself. Please read through the content of the blog and it’s about page before deciding what its content will look like.

Finally the idea that anything an artist says then becomes the work is indeed a simplification. So is the why bother painting if it can be summed up in a few words idea just floated. As another artist recently said (and was quoted here) if you can’t communicate your idea in a loud bar it’s probably not that good anyway.

Speaking to this, if you don’t want to
talk about the work, that’s fine bit it also means you’re not welcome here. The conditions of commenting that apply to everyone who participates is that they speak to the work at hand and they don’t insult others. You’ve created multiple videos aiming to lampoon the author of this post in addition to continually deriding the blog itself. My patience has reached it’s end.

jackson_perkins October 31, 2010 at 10:06 pm

Did any of you guys laugh while watching this? I’m not saying your arguments or critiques are wrong (not that I could understand them); I’m saying these videos are funny and I spent my time laughing at them. If you did think this was funny, what prompted you to write such thesaurically (a real word) inspired essays about it? Based on what he wrote, I think Tom is the only one here actually experiencing the video!

Anonymous November 1, 2010 at 3:47 am

Thank you Jackson!
I laughed while watching it and also this:

Anonymous November 1, 2010 at 3:53 am

I don’t think anyone here can be charged with jargon laden commenting. This isn’t exactly Art Forum.

I though the Nelson laugh was kind of funny, but I don’t think the Lynchsons is hugely hilarious. It’s really successful for its layering of episodes inside other characters. The old photoshop trick was a Paul Pfieffer/Preditor type deal where protagonists looked as though they were may of clear gelatin. In this version, previous episodes is the new camoflauge.

Anyway, Tungsten Baby does a far better job on the comedy front, but it’s also pretty standard internet fair (albeit accomplished). In this video simply a pop-y sample track with a few edited Simpson loops. It gets pretty good when the editing is slowed down and you hear “all that fucking for nothing”, but that’s a joke that was already there. The Lynchsons, is to my mind, a better work, even if it’s a little long and doesn’t match the artist’s objectives.

sally November 1, 2010 at 2:49 pm

I’m sorry. I said “hegemony.” I was being a brat.

Cojo November 2, 2010 at 4:00 pm

This just needs a backwards talking midget and some creepy twins and it would be perfect..

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