Past work, playing and silly experiments

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Since my first semester as a student of art in Chile, I’ve been curious about dice. O or you could say I fell in love with them. I started looking at them as a perfect case of design. The concept and the form matched perfectly, and there is nothing that is not essential in their physicality. They “speak” without using words or traditional numbers. I would strongly bet that they would make sense to any possible alien intelligence existing out there in the universe. Their language speaks to all in a very straightforward way, but I wouldn’t say what they have to say is as simple as one could think at first, or is it? Maybe… They are also so beautiful… irresistible for some like me!

Denial of Saint Peter. ca 1615-17.Oil on canvas.

So one day I decided to draw a die. I had of course seen many drawings and representations of them. But in this case the goal was to try to capture their spirit as full as possible, not only a drawing of how they look. So I made a drawing that would represent a dimension a had never seen in their representations: time. They are meant to be used over time, not only once,( but why not?) So they idea was to draw them many times, after rolling them, as we are supposed to do. So I got a large piece of white paper, a black marker, a pencil, a ruler, and started to draw. I decided to make a grid with many squares, each with the size of the dice. It sounds simple, but it’s not that easy! Then I started rolling the dice and making a drawing on each square, based on the face that was on top view on each roll.

The process was very slow and tricky. There was no room for mistakes. So I had to be focused and be sure that my hand was very steady and confident. In the process the randomness of life got in the way, I got very sick. That slowed the process, but it didn’t stop me from rolling the dice and fill the grid, after rolling the dice for more than 2300 times. I got dizzy because I had viral A hepatitis, but the process was very enjoyable other than that: I lost track of the noises of the world and the worries, hopes, and fears on my mind, while my eyes and head jumped between the dots and wondered what the next roll would be.

The result was this kind of drawing:

ALEA JACTA EST, very unlikely.

The resulting image after rolling the dice so many times was very shocking for me. I had never done anything like this ever before. I was just a witness of the dictate of the die. And what the die dictated seamed at the same time in complete randomness or chaos, but somehow organized. It had at the same time a geometrical and organic look. It gave a static feeling, but also a dynamic one.

So this got me into the rest of the experiments I have done as dice and roulette lover or visual artist. This are some of the experiments I have done so far in the same spirit, thinking about playing and the concept of randomness and different ways of “creating it” The key question behind this silly experiments is related to the following questions:

“Is there such thing as randomness?”

“If there is such thing as randomness, can we understand or control the levels of randomness?

“How can we produce systems to produce random outcomes?”

“How can they be improved or controlled?”

“Why can’t we be sure about the next roll of the dice or roulette when we have a database with past outcomes and the tools of probability to help us making a prediction?

“Could there be a perfect probability tool to predict the next roll of the dice?”

Take a bus, while you are sitting(if you get a seat) take a pen and place it on a piece of paper. Let your hand move as the bus travel. Let it drift through the paper. Try not to look at the paper. When you reach your destination remove the hand from the paper. Repeat whenever you feel like becoming an artist on the bus.

The bus drawings

It’s a Sony!

An interactive installation. A broken cd player that works with the open lid invites you to draw on top of the white cd, while you listen to a song. You can take the cd home or place it with others done by people.



Color Bingo

The Wheel of fortune!

The idea in this case was making drawings out of different toy roulettes. By repetition, triying to reveal how each of them was biased towards certain numbers. And off course, to produce beautiful crazy vibrating and almost hallucinating compositions.

The Reflex project

A photographic game about randomness, memory, imagination and the city.

Soldiers Playing Cards and Dice(The cheats) . Detail. Valentin de Boulogne. ca 1615 Oil on canvas. National Gallery of art Washington D.C.

30 Shades of Gray.

The Traffic Jam!

An interactive sound toy to pretend you are a musician, and to enjoy or torture others and yourself with sounds from cars!

The natural randomness oracle.

Put natural things like rice or beans or lentils inside the container. Click the mouse, and recieve a picture. Relate the image to your current thoughts about your life.

The Sandman Oracle

Mark Sandman was a very talented musician. He played in different bands. He died on stage in Italy, while playing with Morphine. “His spirit now lives inside this computer. If you give him pepper for his ghost french fries, he will tell you what’s on his mind”

I started realizing that rolling the dice by hand is not enough to get as many results as by doing it with an automated system. So I started thinking seriously about making a system to do similar drawings as I was doing but in an automatic and more efficient way. This is why I came to ITP. Now that I’ve been here, I’m thrilled with the possibilities offered by technology that I never imagined. I’m very surprised to see this, that once I thought to be impossible for me to do is finally happening. I have considered different aproaches and directions, that offer different kind of posibilities around this concept of natural or physical randomness and the aid of computers and electronics for this purpose.

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