À bruit secret (With Hidden Noise)

1916 / 1964

À bruit secret was classified by Marcel Duchamp as an “assisted readymade”, one created in collaboration, the work in fact being produced with the help of collector Walter Arensberg and playwright Sophie Treadwell. Arensberg’s enthusiasm for cryptography inspired the inscriptions on the plates, Treadwell assisting with translation. For Duchamp, the missing letters marked by full stops recalled neon signs with their occasional dark gaps. Arensberg was asked to place a secret object inside the ball of twine clamped between the plates, an object heard when the work is shaken.