Art 1 – Chance composition and the color game – due March 3


First: Watch the following video and comment on the idea of “assisted chance” and the idea of “holding 2-3 ideas in mind at the same time”?

Arp’ s composition and the role of chance

Then, spend at least 10 minutes doing the game (see link below)…..try to perfect your matches and do all three levels.

Leave a comment about your experience.

You are learning about saturation and value by exercising your eyes….what better preparation for painting?!

For sketchbook activity, use a viewfinder to find chance compositions that are non-objective and are visually satisfying to you.

Cut  out and paste in sketchbook.

Minimum 4 black and white and 4 color for full credit. ( newspaper or magazine sources)

We will be using these for painting so follow your aesthetic taste.


34 responses »

  1. For the video, I think that, while the end result is certainly interesting, I object to it as being great art because it in theory required little to no effort on the artists part. If indeed he had relied entirely on chance, it has no reflection of skill or talent other than the ability to shred paper, and it strikes me as a Holden Caulfield sort of angsty teen approach to reject art and planing, except where convenient, the so-called “assisted chance” which I think would be better termed inspired by chance, or plagiarized from chance. Also, the idea of rejecting society by rejecting traditional art, but then selling the “art” for large amounts of money seems, well, phony.
    The game, however, I find to be very interesting. My current top score is 8.3. I found it to be similar to a game at the exploratorium where you have to mix RGB colours to try and match one, and though I couldn’t find a version online, i found this, which is similar.

    • Wow – what a cool site but I was not very good at it since it works differently than paint! It’s a good training for the eye. One thing to remember about Arp’s work is that this method of composition came out of a context of disillusionment at the time of WWI and his later work which does demonstrate skill and talent has its roots in this. He was not presenting it as “great art” rather as oppositional ideas to the status quo. It did not sell for much during his life time. It is valued now and in museums for the ideas and creative-cultural path that it represents.

  2. Assisted chance I don’t see as being bad, but it is no longer a random composition; the papers falling are a way for the artist to get started, rather than a form of art. Multiple ideas for what an art piece is about is fantastic; every art piece should make you think and force you to view it from multiple perspectives. Abstract art does this by not forcing any image on the viewer, instead giving colors to appeal to emotion and memory.

    That colors game is actually pretty hard. I can’t focus on the multiple dots that well, and it becomes really frustrating when you don’t know what circle is manipulating which side of the timer when multiple circles start appearing. I did the best on tetratic colors, for some reason… I guess it was the nice balance of colors. My highest score was an 8.7.

  3. I don’t think that “Assisted Chance” is that a bad thing. However, the amount of effort that it takes to move pieces of fallen paper after letting them fall on the paper seems to be very minimal and take little to no skill. I do like the idea of multiple ideas being held in the mind at one time. It urges us to open our minds a bit and think about the piece more and take in more of its effects. I find Arp’s piece to be visually pleasing and almost calming, but I don’t like how he achieved those effects.

    The game is fun until you get 3/4 of the way through. My best score is 7.7. Its hard to keep track of the circles and timer at the same time. It makes you think fast and match the colors quickly.

  4. Assisted chance is not a bad thing in my opinion. I think that it can be considered art because the artist moves the pieces of paper around, to create their vision. However it seems like it does require much less skill then most other forms of art. I like the idea of holding multiple ideas in your mind at once. It makes the artist/viewer think about the piece of art in multiple ways, instead of the meaning being blatantly obvious.
    I think that the game is interesting, because it shows you how hard it is to match colors. For me the last stage of the game was the hardest, and the first was the easiest. My best score was an 8.4.

  5. I don’t think it’s right to say or hint that your art is a result of complete chance if it’s not but on the other hand if the art was all chance then the “artist” couldn’t really claim to have made a masterpiece since he was just the messenger, for want of a better word. The idea of expressing several things at once reminds me simultaneously of Shakespeare’s word play and Steinberg’s art where shapes and textures are part of multiple images. I liked the art game. The use of saturation was hard to pinpoint but it got easier when you got used to it. My high score was 9.3 the second time I played it.

  6. Art doesn’t always need to be expressive or have perspective and opinion. Nor does art insist on a lot of effort. In my opinion, art only needs imagination and visual form and the beauty and emotional power can be left to the viewers’ interpretation. And just like a song or a piece of literature, I believe there are many interpretations or intentions. No author or songwriter only has one theme or moral they’re trying to convey, and the ones that viewer, readers, and listeners experience might coincide or not with what the artist intended. Sometimes the artist/author/songwriter doesn’t even know themselves exactly what their piece (a) relates to, (b) is about, or (c) its exact effect.

    For me, I just tried to figure out which of the colors on the timer corresponded to the one following directly with my mouse, and in doing so, I got a 9.2, all goods, very goods, and perfects. Once I got to the “saturation” level, it became very hard to figure out the colors quickly because there was not only hue changes but also changes in their level of saturation– which can lead to ten times as many possibilities when there are several saturation-variants of one hue. In short, I really just tried to match the saturation and hue of the dot under my mouse with its corresponding color on the timer, knowing that getting that one right would mean I got the others right as well.

  7. I think assisted chance is pretty lame, considering that in essence it is not chance anymore. If the artist moves around pieces, than none o this is chance, rather it is calculated and thought out. I think the art is interesting, because it takers a minimalist point of view, and creates non objective art, but to me it also seems a little forced. In the painting all the shapes are follow the same perimeter, and non over lap, which doesn’t seem very minimalist to me. I think it’s good to hold 2-3 idea’s in your mind depending on what message, tone, or genre of art your trying to appeal to.

    I got a 10 out of 10 on the first exercise, and then proceeded to do terrible on the rest. The triadic was my worst one, were I scored a 1 out of 10. My average score for all of the exercises together, were 5.7. I was using color blind assist which might have helped me out a lot.

  8. I think assisted chance is interesting because it would be hard for me not to change the positioning of some of the shapes. I don’t think it makes for very interesting paintings though because they don’t really show you anything, but shapes.
    The game was pretty fun and gets pretty challenging around the analogous round. I had more trouble matching up certain green hue than anything else.

    • That is the hardest part for me too – the conscious mind wants to always be in the drivers seat….but often the discovery that comes from allowing the unconscious input gives the piece an unexpected vitality.

  9. I think that assisted chance should be considered art because it is a great way to get your ideas working. Sometimes when I am trying to think of something to draw, I just do something randomly, like dropping pieces of paper to make a design. This sparks your imagination and gives the artist ideas for their future artwork.
    I think the game was really interesting. It is really challenging when you get to the harder levels. It is really interesting especially with how hard it is to match colors. So it shows that you need to make one color and stick with it. The hardest part for me was the Triadic. My highest score was 8.8

  10. While assisted chance seems cool in theory, I think it takes the chance out by moving some of the pieces. Yes, it may look better, but it’s no longer really chance and that kind of takes away the whole point. Also, I’m not a huge fan of painting made only of shapes, I prefer paintings that depict something. I think it seems like something that would not need a lot of skill to do, but it may be that it’s one of those things that’s harder than it looks.

    I really enjoyed the game. It was very challenging, especially at the end. My best score was 8.3, mostly because I did so badly on the final, tetradic round. I got an 11 on hue, a 12 on saturation, a 10 on complementary, a 7 on analogous, a 7 on triadic, and a 3 on tetradic. I think I had the most trouble matching up orange and brown colors.

  11. I think this assisted chance idea is kind of silly, it doesn’t make any sense to me. It’s like saying it’s random, but you can choose what you want…There isn’t really any chance going on here. I bet 9 times out of ten you’ll see what you want to see.

    The game was actually quite easy for me, I found that the different levels didn’t make too much of a difference because most of the levels, you don’t really need to pay attention to all the different dots, just match up one, and then the rest match up.

  12. I do believe the art by chance is actually art, because they have to choose the shapes and colors of the paper. However, since it is very simple, this style of art cannot be compared to traditional painting or drawing because it is different. There is no cheating in art, but a piece assisted by chance could only be compared to another piece made the same way.

    The colors game is very interesting, because you have to use a combination of visual and movement. I found the complementary/analogous/triadic/tetradic more difficult, because there were two other colors distracting me even though I only needed to match up one.

  13. It seems as though assisted chance can make for the creation of a seemingly chaotic or random feeling to a work of art while still allowing the artist a degree of control over the design and final product. Although i feel as though the element of disorder is largely lost in the process as it is clear that their is a pattern in the structure of the art. With this in mind i feel as though it has potential as an artistic tool however the same affect could likely be achieved effectively by making the work deliberately chaotic if youre already changing how things fall to give it some cohesion.

    I found that I was pretty good at the color game until it reached analogous and beyond having multiple circle to match made it hard to keep track of which circles corresponded to which color which made it hard. I also realized how well our eyes are at picking out very slight differences in color.

  14. I’m not really impressed with the process or end result of assisted chance collages. It doesn’t take much skill or creativity to drop torn up pieces of paper onto a bigger piece of paper, and only moderate skill to draw them. I’m not saying I have the skill necessary to draw them, but to a more skilled artist, it should be pretty easy. Then, once this whole process is done, I don’t really think that the result is that interesting. It’s literally just a bunch of pieces of paper on a bigger piece of paper. Maybe it has some “deeper meaning” or something that I’m not getting, but I don’t see why that would sell for millions, when there’s all of these people making incredibly detailed lifelike portraits from paint. However, the colors are cool, and the whole idea puts a lot of emphasis on color, so that is the one thing about it that I found mildly interesting. Also, the idea of holding multiple ideas is cool, because maybe it could give one of these pieces more depth.
    I was not very good at the color game; my best score was 6.3. Usually I’d get the dots moderately close, but struggled with the saturation, and ended up getting lots of averages and poors. It shows that I have much to learn when it comes to recognizing the saturation of a color. I did see some improvement in the three times I tried though.

    • One thing to remember about Arp’s work is that this method of composition came out of a context of disillusionment at the time of WWI and his later work which does demonstrate skill and talent has its roots in this. He was not presenting it as “great art” rather as oppositional ideas to the status quo. It did not sell for much during his life time. It is valued now and in museums for the ideas and creative-cultural path that it represents.

  15. I thought the assisted chance thing was interesting and I wouldn’t say it isn’t art necessarily, but because it wasn’t deliberately created by the artist I can see how its identity as “art” would be questionable. I didn’t like the example painting for assisted chance. I didn’t think it conveyed the concept very well.

    To be quite honest, the game was awful. It’s that the concept was bad. It was just ridiculously hard. It was weird because it seemed so easy in theory but I did pretty dang bad. Maybe I’m colorblind.

    • Or maybe you were just distracted by all those colors moving around the screen with a timer. I find that I get distracted by my enjoyment of the colors displayed and “forget” that I’m supposed to be matching them before my time runs out.

  16. I think assisted chance is art, you are taking something and turning it into a vision you have inside your head of something and putting it together. I find it interesting. I enjoyed the example painting and thought overall it conveyed the concept very well. The game is very hard but I thought it was interesting and got me thinking about painting.

  17. It seems to me that if these Dada-ists wanted to truly rule out human reason and thinking from their art, they would not “assist” the chance or shift the positions of the pieces of paper at all. Ideally, they should remove any human judgement, after all, their whole purpose was to spite human ideas for getting them into the debacle of the great war.
    I did not like the game, mostly because I couldn’t think fast enough which colors are analogous. I found it frustrating, getting a final score of 3.1.

  18. Assisted chance is not chance at all but just starting from a different place. Instead of starting with a blank canvas, you use chance to start you off and then move everything that doesn’t appeal to you, removing chance and saving you the work of thinking of a pattern. I don’t like the idea of contradicting theories in one piece because there can’t be contradictions all manifesting without one being dominant over the others.
    I did like the color game though my scores began to fall as I had less time, but I think it is a good exercise in testing how quickly one can deduce the location of the correct color based on the contrast of the wrong color and the right color. I only played once but I got and 8.3 which seemed pretty good considering how little time is allowed in the later parts.

    • That’s an interesting way to think of it as just a different starting point. And yes,you are right, whatever dominates in the long run is where the artist’s heart truly lies, despite the theories.

  19. I think that moving the pieces of paper around doesn’t take away the whole idea of chance. The basic idea is still there, and it was chance that inspired the work of art in the first place (the way the paper fell).
    I liked the color game and it was fun to see how fast and you could get the colors to match up. I found my score kept going down throughout the levels, but my overall score was 7.4
    The tetradic level was definitely the hardest, probably because there were so many colors to keep track of.

  20. I understand the idea of chance, however I don’t agree with it. Art is meant to come from the mind, not chance. Also, it’s not change if you arrange it. The game was fun, I found it got harder as the levels increased.

  21. I think the video of “Assisted Chance” is interesting. It showed that even the simplest techniques can be used to create fun and abstract art. Although it may not be high class art (in my own opinion), it does demonstrate the power of chance and ones own taste (if shifting is involved). I also liked it for the fact that it is so simple that anyone can do it, not just great and talented artists.

    I felt that the color method was a fun but slightly frustrating activity. My score overall was a perfect 8. It definitely got harder as the levels increased but that was also what made it intriguing since it was so complex. It was compicated because of the gradation factor of the colors

  22. I think the video is interesting, to create fun abstract art can use different way to show.Even if use a simple technique like this.

  23. I think that the idea of assisted chance is a really interesting idea because for every piece of art you start with a blank slate and with the addition of purposeful chance it introduced this new kind of foundation. Even the idea of introducing certain shapes randomly but doing it on purpose is kind of ironic. I think that art is all about chances and the fact that this was his own original idea is part of his art making and adds an unexpected element. I also think there is no piece of art that comes out exactly as planned at least not for most artists so to purposefully add an element you don’t really control is an interesting twist on this perspective.
    My overall score was 7.6 not very good but the game proceeded to get very difficult as time went on through the different stages. I think what occurred to me as most interesting was that I always imagined the color spectrum as something so incredibly infinite that it could not possibly be physically interpreted in one single spectrum but the site did just that rather nicely.

  24. I think the idea of assisted chance is intriguing but it’s hard for me to wrap my mind around. On the one hand, the dada technique of leaving art up to chance is a perfect expression of the theory behind the movement and an interesting strategy to try and force human thought away from the cold and rational path that led to WWI. But when you add the “assisted” part in, the idea becomes itself a contradiction. It begs the question: what is more important, the final product (balance in the composition, for example) or the process behind the work (leaving it entirely up to chance).

    I think the color game is really cool, although slightly maddening. I could kind of manage it up until you had to match two or three colors; at that point I just sort of lost it. My highest score was an 8.2.

    This is the link I mentioned in class:

  25. I guess I don’t really understand “assisted chance”–to me it just seems as if the artist is putting random things on the canvas and calling it art. Not sure if that sort of expression should be considered on the same level of sincerity or beauty as other types of art.
    To be honest the color game was really, really hard for me. I thought I was doing great at the beginning–until the whole color wheel appeared and then things got bad. I scored a measly 5.8–with my lowest score being on the complementary subgame (3). I thought it would be a lot easier!

    • That’s a good point and I don’t necessarily think it is considered on the same level as other more ambitious types of art. It is just one more idea in the overall discourse of cultural/artistic evolution.

  26. The “assisted chance” method of random chance in art seems like a cool idea in theory, as it’s more interactive, but it doesn’t seem like a very good idea. While art is supposed to look/be effortless, there should be some sort of underlying meaning to contrast this.otherwise this ceases to be art, and begins to be purely aesthetic.
    I did enjoy the little art game, though. I did poorer and poorer as time went on, though. I kind of thought that the triadic and tetradic parts at the end were kind of dumb, as I just focused on one section and matched that color, but I guess I was proven wrong by my score.

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