" ... What starts to be present by deploying itself and of itself "
It is in these terms that Heidegger qualified nature. It is also in these terms that one could qualified the mode of artistic making I want to speak of.
Nature deploys itself by virtue of biologic systems that constitute it. Thus, a tree resembles another but is not trying to imitate any other existing tree.
Conversely, the work of art deploys itself from the more or less close imitation of other works of art in a given cultural context. From their mode of manifestation the " works of nature" enjoy a perpetual resourcement, whereas those of art are only deducting one from the other by a slow degradation of their initial energy : a sort of entropy that leads to all academisms.
Against this menace I wanted eventually reach works of art that would deploy themselves by virtue of algorithmic systems that they virtually contain. Art, for a long time, has renounced to imitate nature in its apparent manifestations. But these works, wich I call "distributionnal " paradoxically would take as model the systematic combinations of nature and would simulate its mode of making. And, just like organisms, thanks to the part of chance and rules that they would contain, they would avoid the epigonic repetition and would benefit from seduction of all (re) commencements.
Actually, these "visual propositions" result from the application of program (it may be only of marginal importance that this is a computer program : everything could be done "by hand", but it would take longer, it would be more tedious, and more subject to error). Written in 1990, this program aims to produce, within defined limits and following combinatorial algorithms, visual "accident" (or stochastic events), and to reiterate them ( i. e. to repeat them while modifying them at each repeat ), and then to pile them on top of each other, each one more or less completely obliterating the previous one.
I call this operating mode, which is radically opposed to heuristic and intuitive composition, "distribution". In the program resides an almost infinite number of virtualities. Randomness and Repetition are the roads through which those virtualities become actual. As the program runs, the artist remains passive. He finds his legitimacy once the program ends its course, when it comes to evaluate the experimental result (unpredictable in its details) : he has to accept it globally, without the slightest modification, or reject it globally. The artist has played a role at the beginning of the process, by writing the program ; he finds a new role at the end, by choosing and choosing again amidst the profusion of visual events that the machine has generated. Thus, the artist has no been eliminated, but displaced from one creative position to another : he has freed himself from production per se to devote himself to the assessment of the profusion of what has been produced.
The machine applies the algorithms, chooses randomly the value of each parameter, superimposes the reiterations and finally displays the result with such speed that each selected image is a sort of snapshot, a fleeting moment, a "freeze frame" . Something has been captured in motion and has kept a trace of this dynamic. Thus, these works somehow reflect the power and speed of execution of computer. To remain true to the logic of computer's operating mode, and to preserve the spontaneity and vivaciousness that it brings about, the image has gone directly from its luminous birth on the computer screen to its definitive material state (digital ink jet prints on plastic sheets), without any intervention, at any stage whatsoever, of the "hand of the artist".
Christian de Cambiaire>