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The Way Things Go


The Way Things Go

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To make The Way Things Go, Swiss artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss created an enormous Rube Goldberg-like mechanism/art installation out of cast-off household objects, ramps, old tires and chemicals. The contraption's function was to destroy itself in a lengthy and spectacular chain reaction; the video itself is the visual record of the art/machine's half-hour performance. It should be a lot of fun, like watching the world's largest Mousetrap game unfold, and parts of it are interesting—cleverly weighted tires roll up ramps, old shoes seem to walk by themselves, various explosions take place. But then there are long sections in which complex and tedious chemical reactions are very, very slowly moving to tip a balanced board, or a string is gradually unwinding from a post, or water is dripping from one container to another, none of which makes for engaging viewing. For some reason, almost every portion of the sculpture is the same uniform dingy gray, making it even more difficult to watch. Perhaps some loftier artistic purpose is being served, but it's hard to imagine what. Based on the premise, The Way Things Go could have been amazing, but any reasonably inventive person who watches this film will think of a half-dozen new tricks to add, most of which would have been more fun to watch than anything here.