Sunday, June 9, 2013

Arp Notes

After looking at Jean Arp’s "automatism" or "chance" work, I began to think about the randomness of different actions and what meaning is constructed out of random results. As a musician, I was interested in experimenting with the randomization of music. I thought about how musical improvisation is really a kind of composition on the fly. So what if I just threw notes onto a sheet of music paper?

I scattered each of my cut-out notes and other musical symbols randomly onto the music paper. While I did adjust the notes’ orientation, I tried to retain the essential randomness of the process. Because my goal was to create art rather than music, I used large blue notes.

Unfortunately, the result was just like that of trying to play totally random music. It is close to impossible to play random music; the musician’s instinct takes over and corrects for the “mistakes”. In the process of making my art, I experienced the same thing: it was very hard to put the blue notes down without thinking about the aesthetics of the result.

The result of fully random music isn’t typically audibly appealing (even though it may be an interesting concept). The same is true with a sheet of essentially random notes. While I like the idea of my artwork, I don’t enjoy the visual result.

The process of putting the notes on the page imbues the artwork with a sense of time. The visually static marks become organized in time when they are seen as notes placed on linear music paper. A page of sheet music is read left to right to create a dimension of time. This kind of artwork challenges the viewer to look at it as both a static picture and a developing piece of art through time.

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