Where’s the Chaos?

I’m back at work on Cadillac, the latest in the Structured Chaos series which I’m developing in collaboration with Ben Honebone. I’ve been struggling with this piece for the last month because I’ve been looking too hard for a formula to work to. Formulas and rhythms are natural and it’s no surprise I’ve fallen into this trap. The whole point of Structured Chaos was to let go of any preformed notions and instead embrace random cuts and ideas on chaos.

Ben has been providing the structure on which all the artworks are formed. He gives me a photograph on which to work as well as a title. That should be all the structure required. It’s hard though not to have an opinion on what cuts should be made. I work mostly on the back of the photograph to try to eliminate the idea of following the photograph for guidance and inspiration. With recent assemblages in this series I’ve somehow fallen off this path and ended up creating work which is very much formed around the photograph itself. This decision wasn’t deliberate so there was still happenstance and kismet at play. But to the viewer it might look very contrived and the imagery might seem to be lacking in this chaotic element to a certain degree.

I’ve discussed theories on chaos before but in order to make progress with Cadillac it is important to revisit these ideas. The word ‘Chaos’ derives from the Greek for “yawning” or “gap” and these spaces between can subsequently yield beauty and pleasure just as much as they can create a void of pain and torment.The yawning spaces between the paper in the layers in my work are therefore ‘Chaos’ in the entymological sense.

The origins of our contemporary ideas on Chaos run deep throughout myth and legend. Concepts on primal entities such as desire, torment, dark, and night are formed out of Hesiod‘s theories on an underworld space. Later Ovid thought of it differently and considered Chaos to be an unformed jumble where all the elements were messed up together in a shapeless heap. It is this shapeless heap that present day viewers are expecting to see when I mention the word ‘chaos’, and it is this element of chaos that I have been struggling with.

I think I’ve found a solution in that I have decided to reject any structures of the photograph or preformed ideas on where the work should be headed. I’m working quicker and with less thought so that decisions have less chance to form and that the unconscious is doing the random things that it should be doing. Save for a few key elements (which were created at random via the Deep Dream program a while back) I’m working as blindly and as chaotically as I can.

Where is the chaos? It’s back, it’s here, and it’s a very real part of the process.

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