Well, this is it. My final presentation!
It’s been a fun three weeks in this class but it looks as if the summer is over and the fall semester of school is upon us. I have had so much fun in this class learning all sorts of new pieces of art about the physical, the digital, and the almost unreal.
I’ll remember a whole lot about this class (how couldn’t you after 3 consecutive weeks?) but most of all I’ll hold on to these realizations. Great learning, great experience, great summer.
Christian Boltanski’s “Chance”, seen here displayed openly to the public in the French Pavilion of Venice Biennale in 2011, is simply fascinating.
I love the idea of mixing and matching faces together because of just how genuinely light-hearted it is. It’s a fun artistic idea and the notion that Boltanski stated that “if every image lands together to make your face you get to keep the machine” is hilarious in how it reflects his perception of chance. It’s always going to be turbulent so why not play into that?
Yet there’s another much darker side to it. It not only uses the post-modern to reflect on how incredibly rare this idea is, it also dances in the macabre by involving death.
In an article written about Boltanski’s work, here , the writer mentions how the idea of reflecting on images of people who no longer exist and placing their faces together with those who do, brings out a dark tonality to the piece.
I can’t quite figure out if their’s a message at all hidden in this decision. But it feels as if it works alongside the idea of chance by honing in on the “dice roll” so to speak. In the moment where someone is waiting to see what images are put together they are thinking about both the deceased and the living. The past and the present.
Whatever photo it now brings up, it simply is. And you’re thinking about every option because of it.
So there I listed a few examples of how randomness can still create the idea of interesting and engaging art but where did this interest come from?
Well I think a big lead into this kind of art comes from projects like the Sinusoidal Functional Pendulum.
In the real world, sinusoidal functions can be used to describe mechanical functions such as the swinging of a pendulum or natural phenomena such as hours of daylight. Yet to the unknown human this merely looks like a pendulum that was pushed one day and just rustles around carelessly.
The idea that the pendulum knocks down each peg according to a specific set time is fun in itself but it’s the period in-between each hour that I find so fascinating.
This is the postmodern that I have been talking about. Sure this specific project runs at a incredibly specific stage but what if it didn’t? What if the pendulum just chose its own past? Would you be more engaged? Maybe it’d tempt you to watch for even longer now knowing only the future knows when these pegs will fall down.
This is what I love about chance. About the random.
Now that I’ve written a few reasons I find chance so interesting personally, I think it’s important to stress where specifically chance finds itself within the art world.
What really got me interested in randomness within art was an installation I visited years ago titled, “Zebra Finches Shred”. The installation was created by Céleste Boursier-Mougenot, a French composer and artist who has become a master at encouraging birds to make music. He does so by creating a kind of musical ecosystem.
The birds are a mixed-age flock, about half males and half females. Three nest condos are hung from the ceiling, and the floor is covered with sand and patches of tall grass to mimic the finches’ natural environment—Australian grassland. Zildjian cymbals are filled with either water or food.
In every city the exhibit has been wildly popular, and the prevailing question among its visitors has been the same: Do the birds know they’re making music?
“We think they do,” says Trevor Smith, the museum’s curator of contemporary art.
I had so much fun visiting this exhibit the first time that I saw it that I ended up coming back two more times! It was just such a fun experience that relied almost solely on the randomness of the birds making sound. Sure the equipment was set up but at the base of it, what really mattered was what the birds did.
This is fascinating on so many levels. And throughout the rest of the week I’ll continue to explain why.