Chance design

The appearance of the book. I feel kind of high watching (making) the process form itself. My tables of random numbers are determining much of what’s happening, and with every decision I give over to chance operations I stop to think about my own intentions, present or not. The work begins to take form and it feels like I’m receiving a gift — a strange sensation that I’m half-blind, one eye open towards the thing and another closed and wishing for the best.

The hurricane gave me a few solid days to focus on creating the texts and the layout of the book. I’m plodding along, numbers 1 through 273, letting chance operations tell me what’s on each page and where to put it. The texts are smash-ups of language and voice spanning 2,350 years — 52 poems in all. Like the image relics — pixels lifted from a single photograph — the texts are also extractions. Four voices (Aristotle, Cage, the 1908 mushroom expert, and my conversation fragments from the driveway at the John Cage Trust) are woven together into scenes of possibility. The poems are clues, hinting at meaning. More like open doorways. Here are two: numbers 30 and 43.

Random numbers from 1 to 24 tell me where to start the text on the page, using a 24 x 24 grid, and how far to indent each line. As lines spill over I let them and then continue to indent.

I’m starting to realize that the work I did in Rome (the Memory Palace book) was like a draft of this thing. Ideas that first appeared in that project are manifesting here in JC273.

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