Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Chance and Order

Kenneth Martin, Chance and Order Drawing (1981). Pencil:

Kenneth Martin, Chance and Order Drawing

The aleatory process that generated it:

· An 8-by-8 square grid was numbered from the top in horizontal rows from left to right.

· The numbers from 1 to 64 were written on small cards, which were shuffled. Thirty-two pairs of numbers were picked at random (without replacement, so that no number was drawn twice) to determine how each of the 64 intersections in the grid would be connected to one (and only one) other intersection. The 32 pairs were set down in 4 columns of 8.

· A single line was drawn for each pair in the top row: 27 → 60, 9 → 16, 63 → 41, and 36 → 53.

· Pairs in all the other rows were interpreted likewise, except that sets of parallel lines were drawn. Pairs in row 2 were taken as instructions to draw pairs of parallel lines, pairs in row 3, instructions to draw triplets, and so on.

· Take 3 → 42, leftmost in the second row. The first of the two parallel lines connected intersections 3 and 42. The second line connecting 3 and 42 lay to the right of the first (assuming the line was oriented toward intersection 42). We do not know how Martin determined whether the expansion was to be to the right or to the left: Twelve of the 28 multiple connectors expand to the right, and the remainder expand to the left.

· This drawing reflects the order in which the lines were drawn: a set of parallel lines is always interrupted by preexisting sets of lines. For instance, the pair of lines 3 → 42 was drawn before the pairs 43 → 33 and 37 → 25; therefore, the latter seem to be occluded by the former where they happen to intersect. Thus, if each set of lines intersected its immediate precursor (which is not the case: We cannot tell by looking at the drawing the ordinal position of pair 31 → 45 in row 2), the drawing would have 32 distinct layers in depth.

Kenneth Martin, Chance And Order III

Towards the end of his life Kenneth Martin embarked on a series of paintings and works on paper which he called the Chance and Order Series. In the simplest versions, a grid was set up on paper and its points of intersection numbered. Corresponding numbers were drawn 'out of a hat' ie. by chance. Each pair of numbers then became a line on the grid. Although the underlying structure remained the same the resulting correspondences produced a seemingly endless succession of combinations. With these works there was therefore a double invitation to explore the paintings and drawings as statements about an inventive process, and to contemplate the products that were generated by that process. The combination of randomness and definite rules left the artist free to invent in an exact sense. You can only develop order but not chance, you can only use the chance again.

Via Fine Art

Kenneth Martin, Chance and Order VI
Kenneth Martin, Chance and Order V

"LeWitt influenced me because he is one of the people who brought me onto chance. And it was chance that helped me to go further with painting ... I can start from the very beginning with number, the number gives a rhythm and points in space. In that respect I am using number like the composers did, like Bach ... As von Graevenitz said to me: you cannot develop chance, you can only use chance again. This use of chance is the big thing for me and then this use of order."

Kenneth Martin, Chance and Order II

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