It just keeps going and going! From Steven Kaplan emailed with a reply from MoMA curator Christian Rattemeyer about the consciousness of edits in Fischli & Weiss's Der Lauf der Dinge: "It is his contention that many astute and observant viewers (himself included) have 'always thought of it as an edited work, never as a continuous chain reaction.'"
D'oh! If you need me, I'll be over here in the unastute and unobservant section, reading People. But to Kaplan's--and by extension, Rattemeyer's, and the entire observant art world's--point, I didn't mean to imply that Fischli & Weiss have duped anyone, or that they or any institutions are mis-presenting the piece.
Editing is basic to the language of film, so basic, in fact, that it often disappears from our consciousness. That's just the way things go. Just as Fischli & Weiss's meticulously fabricated re-creations of a custodian's closet, Der Lauf der Dinge's impact derives from its seemingly artless [sic] matter-of-fact-ness. It looks and feels like a documentary, just a guy with a camera capturing the way things go. But it turns out to be a film that--like any other film--is the careful culmination of a whole host of aesthetic decisions, both on the set and on the editing table. Maybe the editing point is so obvious, it doesn't need to be made, but I guess I'm simpleminded like that.
[update after thinking about it: Though F&W's edits are not cuts, the kind of jumps of time, place, or vantage point we've come to read unconsciously as film; they're almost all illusionistic, dissolves and fades, that attempt to approximate continuity.]
Rattemeyer also brought a show at Susan Inglett Gallery to Kaplan's attention, titled "The Way Things Go," in obvious homage. It closes tomorrow, so I'll have to content myself with the press release and images.