Art and Chance: A list
January 20, 2015 10:45 AM   Subscribe

I want to compile a list of art works that used chance operations and/or randomness in their creation. I am keen to incorporate pre-20th century, non-Western works, and lots of works by female artists, but anything you can think of will be super helpful.

Chance operations doesn't necessarily mean random, for instance, some Oulipo stuff fits. Like Georges Perec using the knight's move in chess to structure 'Life a Users Manual'. And chance doesn't have to mean the generation of a pattern or structure, for instance, Yoko Ono's 'Cut Piece' created the opportunity for chance events to take place that were hugely influential on how the work played out.

Works by John Cage, Alison Knowles, Stan Brakhage, Yoko Ono, Robert Filliou, Brian Eno, Burroughs/Gysin, Ewa Partum, Simone Forti, Nam June Paik, Cildo Meireles, Hans Haacke, Francis Alÿs, Jeremy Hutchinson, Daniel Temkin and others come to mind, as well as tonnes of Dada, Fluxus and computer generated work.

As I say, I am keen to move outside well known 'canonical' stuff, but really influential pre-20th century works would be particularly useful to know about. Also, any very early computer stuff. Thanks in advance!
posted by 0bvious to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Fiorella Terenzi, a female astrophysicist, uses astronomical ("chance") data for music composition, e.g.
posted by hz37 at 10:56 AM on January 20, 2015

Not pre-20th century, and probably a bit obvious, but Sophie Calle seems to fit the bill.
posted by HandfulOfDust at 11:34 AM on January 20, 2015

Databending (previously) is awesome, basically applying (for example) echo/reverb and pitch-shifting effects to images. This article has some great examples and links.
posted by Woodroar at 2:17 PM on January 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

Thanks, Woodroar, for reminding me:
and probably other /glitch... subreddits, but I'm at work, so only memory serves.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:04 AM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

For pre-20th Century, non-Western examples, it might help to look at crafts the artist either can't completely control or which react to outside events in some way. The Japanese idea of wabi-sabi (impermanence, imperfection) could be useful here, in some raku techniques and kintsugi.
posted by rottytooth at 1:06 PM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

You've no doubt already come across his work, but no listing of early computer art can go without John Whitney Sr. There's lots on YT: Catalog (1961), Permutations (1966), Arabesque (1975) and so on. I think there's a lot of argument there for chance as you're defining it.
posted by Chichibio at 4:11 PM on January 22, 2015

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