Why make aleatoric art?
There are many reasons ranging from “oops, it was an accident.” to “because it wasn’t there.” But most artists agree that art mimics life. The Aleatoric artist simply takes that literally to conclude that if art mimics life, then the process of making art must mimic the process of making life. And if that is true, then art would come from a place that mimics the place from which life comes. So his next question is…
Where does life come from?
After fending off a flurry of solicitous advances by various supreme beings, divine creators, and holy deities, he finds the answer: Life comes from ooze. Fetid, festering primordial ooze. Residual sediment from the formation of our planet itself seething and bubbling with nitrogenous organic compounds, amino acids, and other prebiotic elements. And with the anxious tenacity of a starving young artist, it somehow finds a way to evolve. Perhaps sparked by something ejected from a passing comet, the spontaneous formation of complex polymers occurs and cells begin to divide and multiply. In a chain reaction, life takes shape, assumes a corporeal form, grows teeth, legs and other assorted appendages, until it has enough things sticking out of it that it can feel itself, and thus have self-awareness, self-consciousness… the essence of life.
Where does aleatoric art come from?
A process not dissimilar to that which produces life. The perfect mixture of elements sit dormant waiting for a spark. That is the point at which the aleatoric artist strikes and suddenly, a metamorphosis takes place. Once the transformation has been completed, he signs his name to it.
Sound simple? It’s not
The Aleatoric artist spends most of his time cultivating the perfect setting and conditions for this miracle to occur, and art is finicky. Too cold and the ooze remains dormant and eventually just smells bad. Too warm and it grows out of control and gets all over the carpet. Just look at it funny and it dies. And the aleatoric artist must never sleep because, the instant he closes his eyes, the precious pile of goo he’s been guarding will suddenly jump up and start wobbling around the room like a newly ambulatory infant, pulling down table cloths, knocking over lamps, and scaring the cat. Invariably the aleatoric hatchling must be subdued to keep it from destroying the house, and itself.
And that was the easy part
The exhausted aleatoric artist must now come up with an explanation for how he produced this masterpiece and what it symbolizes. This is where God is useful and he will invoke the name of any supreme being available in an attempt to give his art meaning and purpose.
Kahlil Gibran expressed it well in one of those little things he wrote, although he was talking about children. I just changed a few words. But basically he said, and I misquote:
“Your artworks are not your artworks.
They are the paintings and sculptures of art’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though you offer them for sale,
Sometimes you can’t give them away.
You may give them your love but not your life,
For art has a life of its own.
You may choose the medium but not the colors,
For the colors look different after they’ve been mixed,
which you cannot predict, not even on a color chart.
You may strive to be like your art,
but seek not to make your art look like you.
For nobody cares what you looked like yesterday.
You are the loading dock from which your artworks,
as framed canvases, are shipped out.
The curator senses that the work is marketable,
and he pressures you with his deadlines,
that this exhibit may put him on the map.
Let your hard work in the curators hands make you money;
For even as he doubts that you’ll make him rich,
He loves that you keep trying.”
—Kahlil Gibran, (sort of).
So I pose now this question to you: Why make aleatoric art? Or more to the point, how do you stop it? After we tried burning it, washing it away, beating it, painting it black, waiting for it to rot, going out into the desert as far away as possible—We’ve even tried filling it with water until it explodes—We’ve come to the conclusion that we can’t stop it. Because, as Kahlil says, It’s not ours to stop.
Ray Cabarga http://raycabarga.com