I Ching

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Chance collaboration.

At some point I decided that the source material for JC273 should be the 12 million pixels contained within a single photograph. Pixels to fill a book. And I knew that these relics would be selected by chance operations, each color block like an open door to a new experience.

But how to take this photograph. Where would I point the camera. Would it matter.

Tomorrow morning I’m driving 2 hours north to the John Cage Trust at Bard College. I’ve asked the director, Laura Kuhn, to select a single item from the archives. Something Cage knew of in his lifetime: a photograph, an object, a score, a piece of artwork, etc. I asked her not to reveal her selection to me until I’m there in person with her, where I will take a single photograph of this thing.

A question.
An agreement.
A selection.
A photograph.

The individual pixel as relic, a potent carrier of meaning and lost memory. A transfer of control, from artist to gatekeeper, and back again. Guardian of the remains of a life’s work. To begin JC273, I will enter a highly charged, significant situation and accept the encounter.

And yet, not exactly random. Orchestrated serendipity. Enigmatic territory, somewhere between chance and intention.

Two colors selected by chance operations on August 19, 2011.

  • 161/169/11
  • 244/229/214

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A way of life where not-performing is equal to performing.

John Cage on performance:

“There is something about performance that tends to make it seem ‘special’ rather than ‘everyday-like’ so that people get what they call ‘butterflies’ before a performance — nervousness and so forth. I think one should move away from those ‘butterflies’ and to a way of life where not-performing is equal to performing, or is emotionally the same; or where the special moments are the same as non-special moments.”

We give equal attention and dedication to each, then?
“In other words, not reserving our attention for what we think are important things, but maintaining our interest and attention to life. It is hard to talk about because the subject is so limitless.” (1991)

Today I moved operations to Long Island City, a few blocks from PS1. A place to work, to experiment, to perform. Kind of feels like Rome again.

Two colors selected by chance operations on August 18, 2011.

  • 117/181/76
  • 187/255/198
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Discipline.

John Cage on discipline, responsibility and expression:

“I would say that the highest discipline is the discipline of chance operations, because chance operations have absolutely nothing to do with one’s likes or dislikes. The person is being disciplined, not the work.” (1975)

Since your ego and your likes and dislikes have been taken out of your compositions, do you still view them as your compositions, in the sense that you created them?
“Instead of representing my control, they represent questions I’ve asked and the answers that have been given by means of chance operations. I’ve merely changed my responsibility from making choices to asking questions. It’s not easy to ask questions.” (1982)

You intend to express something with your work, don’t you?
“It’s not that I intend to express one particular thing, but to make something that can be used by the person who finds it expressive. But that expression grows up, so to speak, in the observer.” (1985)

Two colors selected by chance operations on August 17, 2011.

  • 91/7/227
  • 99/52/253

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A method for selecting a 24-bit RGB color using chance operations.

A method for selecting one of 16,777,216 RGB colors using chance operations.

1. Toss three coins.
2. Cast line:

  • 2 heads + 1 tail, or 3 tails = solid line [–––]
  • 2 tails + 1 head, or 3 heads = broken line [–  –]

3. Repeat coin toss six times, building a hexagram from the bottom up.
4. Use light grey chart to look up hexagram and corresponding number.
5. Find this number on the dark grey RGB chart and note the corresponding four number sequence (for example, if the “32″ hexagram is generated, the four number sequence would be 124, 125, 126, 127).
6. Repeat steps 1 through 4 to generate another hexagram number.
7. Find hexagram number on the RGB chart and note the corresponding selection number 1–4 at the bottom of the column (for example, if the “45″ hexagram is generated, the corresponding selection number is 3).
8. The selection number identifies which number in the four number sequence to select.
(In the example above, 3 is used to select the third number: 126.) This is the red (R) value.
9. Repeat steps 1 through 8 two more times for the green (G) and blue (B) values.

Example:

Two RGB values selected by chance operations on August 16, 2011:

  • 23/101/87
  • 65/73/157

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A method for selecting a 6-bit color using chance operations.

64 hexagrams

1. Toss three coins.
2. Cast line:

  • 2 heads + 1 tail, or 3 tails = solid line [–––]
  • 2 tails + 1 head, or 3 heads = broken line [–  –]

3. Repeat coin toss six times, building a hexagram from the bottom up.
4. Use chart to look up hexagram and corresponding 6-bit color.