Exploring Drawing Through Chance, Music, and Machine

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When Tower Records existed, but barely, I went to a going-out-of-business sale and picked up some books and DVDs that seemed interesting. One was a documentary about John Cage called Chess Pieces. Over five years later, I finally watched it and learned about his chance music and also his method of preparing pianos. Finding Cage was a result of my desire to explore chance art and technology/mechanization in order to make a drawing that did not involve the use of my body or my aesthetic choices. Around the same time I learned about the  Fluxus movement, and was, again, in love. Coincidentally, but not surprisingly, Cage was involved in the  movement. What I love about Fluxus is the deep experimentation and intermedia, but more so the public participation and the games and playfulness.

For this experiment (sketch), I created a score entitled The Fatal Movement. I did not choose the title. It was generated at random by a title-generating website that no longer exists. (I actually hate the title!) I used the website random.org, a pair of dice, and the free version of the computer program Finale to help me make my (random) choices and to compose.  Other randomized components include the music notes, instruments (Horn in F, Trombone, Percussion), time signature (3/4), key (D Major), tempos.

I consider the  composition itself to be a drawing, and the resultant images to be drawings, as well. I created them by making photocopies of transparencies of the actual composition but with the pages on top of each other, positioned in different, random, ways. I did this 7 times. The number of drawings (7) was also randomized.

This piece is a combination of chance and Fluxus, and also both a combination of chance music composition and chance drawing. If this were installed, I’d want two stations: one where people could fool around with the tempo in Finale and one with the transparencies attached to a copy machine so people could create their own chance drawings. My drawings would also hang on the wall, as examples. Each combination of score and tempo, and also each combination of photocopied transparencies, could each be considered different pieces; the public could take home their own art (that which they made in the copy machine) and they could learn how to create their own  chance compositions and drawings.

This first video was the initial composition at an ultra fast, randomly chosen, tempo:

Here it is very fast:

Here it is at a normal tempo:

Here it is very slow:

Currently there is no next step for this experiment, but it is certainly dog-eared as one of my favorite sketches and to be revisited in the future.


About JRow

JRow is an L.A.-based artist who also creates and leads online community-based art projects. Websites: http://artiststories.wordpress.com/ https://jrowart.com/

One comment

  1. Pingback: July Roundup at JRow Art: Art Shows + Art Experiments+ Community Art Projects Galore « JRow Art

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