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Friday, 29 October 2010


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Even things set randomly have order. We may not understand that order, but some can sense it. It's that sense, that feeling, heightened in some of us, that allows some of us to create art. And a similar sense that lets the rest of us at least appreciate it.

I maybe wrong but isn´t this a bit like film grain and it´s randomness and digital sensors man made.


It's very similar to an exercise Twyla Tharp outlines in her book, The Creative Habit. Her friend Richard Avedon was a great believer in this.

Watching him (Winogrand) I realized that the world offers more than certain moments —it’s constantly exploding with moments.

-Tod Papageorge

I've long known that to place flower bulbs in a pleasing and natural looking arrangement all you have to do is drop them in the general area you want, them plant them where they lay. In all that time I've never thought any further as Frederick Sommer did here.

Cavemen insights into the nature of the universe. I'd thought we'd do better by now.

Blimey. Either I am entirely unsuited for the creative world and should just quit my pretensions now, or I have just read next month's entry for Pseud's Corner.

What's encouraging is that after nearly a minute pacing around the kitchen I have been able to translate this into my own language (Normalmanwithadayjob):

"I have five spreadsheets, none markedly different, but each displaying the final number different departments within the corporation would like. If I dropped them into presentations, it probably wouldn't make a real difference. I could run an experiment and find that the corporate bosses would prefer less elegant solutions than an utterly random selection would suggest. It is better than anything corporate life could produce. I have great respect for the way I find things. Every time something fails I look. I cannot believe the idiocy. The intricacy. You hear a noise and you say 'WTF?'"

Unfortunately, the last sentence of your quote completely fails to translate.

Yours, in Dilbert mode.

Randomness may be pleasing or not. However, due to the laws of physics, the universe and all of nature are self-organizing. As my very sage father used to say "God IS the universe".

A lovely sentiment. I fully agree. But the trouble starts when I try to frame the affirmed unexpected in order to photograph it.

Very nice follow-up to Ctein's post on beautiful stochastic ripples in fast moving water...

"Very nice follow-up to Ctein's post on beautiful stochastic ripples in fast moving water...."

I thought so. Mike C. gets all the credit, though.


I don't buy it. Randomness sometimes works, other times not.

~~~~ "we cannot put these pebbles in shapes that would be as elegant and as nicely related and with as great a variety as every time they fall.~~~~~~
Sounds nice when you first read it, maybe gives some a rosy glow, and maybe suggests an artistic methodology to others, but there seems to me to be questionable assumptions here.
The perceived elegance etc is a function of the observer and their personal cultural and artistic frameworks. For example, some may regard the randomness as abhorent and much prefer a more ordered arrangement of the stones. We can argue about that if we wish. But we cannot, and should not, conclude that "we cannot put the pebbles into shapes that would be as elegant etc" since whether we can or not is debatable and not irrefutable.
Or as a previous person posting said, more succintly, "randomness sometimes works, other times not".

Andreas Feininger said precisly the same thing in one of his books on photography. It's one of those 'truths,' I've carried with me since reading it first.

I wonder did these two gentlemen ever discuss the topic...

Possibly a matter of eloquence over truth?

Yes, but if you take those five pebbles and a whole lot more like them, add some sand, cement, and water then mix thoroughly, you can put them into some very attractive arrangements that would be impossible by just dropping them. :)

This quote is as malleable (and as true) as the distribution in our understandings of "elegant" and "nice".

For example...
elegant: unusually effective and simple.
nice: a city in southern france.

Cheers, Alistair

P.S. I do think the basis for elegant makes it a good word to describe this phenomenon.

Andrew Kirk hits the nail on the head: the problem comes when you try to make a photograph of it.
Say you have an area, maybe 10x1m, of fallen birch leaves. They fall, to all intents and purposes, randomly. Now if you want a closeup photo of a bed of leaves, say 10-15 leaves across the frame... finding your choice of scene in the "randomness" is pretty hard. "Green leaf on left third... but now it looks messy on the right...". G'ah.

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