Sunday, February 20, 2011

John Cage and Chance Operations

As a graphic design major, there is a strong emphasis on the design process. The process usually consists of research, study, ideation, proposal, reworking many times, end product. There is very little room for chance study, but John Cage's work is inspiration for figuring out how to work it into the process.

John Cage's chance compositions are generally chance within structure. The outcomes are often strange and uncomfortable, yet the ideas the spring from are interesting. I'm not personally attracted to the content in his work, but the use of chance as a conceptual or visualization process is intriguing. I see chance as more of a means to art without true meaning. John Cage uses the I-Ching as a reference for chance, the end result does not have any relationship to the meaning behind it. All of John Cage's pieces, though they may have names that imply there is a message, are purely abstract.

The Dadaists embraced chance operations. Jean Arp, a founding member of the Dada movement, used chance by dropping torn pieces of paper to create a composition.

Much of the work of Jackson Pollock was created through chance. Though he attempted to control movement of paint, the drips and splatters could never be completely controlled. The paint inspired the composition. What he referred to as "action painting", created chance outcomes based upon the action performed.

Chance operations lend the outcomes more to the abstract side of art. The majority of the outcomes are purely un-represenational emotional images. Within graphic design, meaning is an important player. Chance may be a great tool for overcoming idea blocks, but have very little place in creating a final piece.

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