Some Background on Interstate, page 2


Equally, I have always been interested in randomness, a subject rarely linked to the interstate highway system. Randomness is an elementary force guiding the universe to its ultimate state of total entropy. Inherently of surpassing complexity, it is difficult to verify and all but impossible to reliably generate. It stands as an objective if unverifiable presence, an abstraction outside all argument. It is brutally neutral: pervasive, arbitrary, beyond value judgment, unconscious of humanity and nearly impossible to grasp. It is, in the root sense of the word, awesome.

As we experience them, randomness and the interstate highway system inhabit separate worlds. One is immutable, immaterial, highly dynamic and omnipresent. The other is a fixed presence on the modern landscape. Nonetheless, they share some significant characteristics. Both are singular entities of vast extent. Both are intensely neutral in nature: randomness exists entirely outside of culture while the interstate is independent of the local cultures it traverses. Both are at one and the same time exceedingly complex, hugely impressive but fundamentally banal. This set of apparent contradictions and congruities is what attracted me to them both and why they form this work’s two equal and denotative subjects.

Many artists and composers have employed randomness and its close cousins indeterminacy, chance and accident as a methodology to open the artwork to possibilities ungoverned by taste, personal volition and subjective tendency. While operative here, this is not my principal goal. Rather, I wished to make randomness perceivable and appreciable—a first-order subject—as much the denotative content of the work as the images of the interstates themselves.

Or maybe that’s not precisely how it works. While randomness is very much the subject of the work, on another level the work is grounded in an inescapable perceptual dynamic. Our perceptual system fights randomness, unconsciously struggling to impose organization on experience, to create order out of accident, to attribute reason to all we experience. Thus, it may be that randomness-as-subject of the work is inextricable from the experiential contradiction incited by randomness: the willful testing of the visual field to perceive, create, reject, and ultimately to re-establish multiple patternings, resemblances, echoes and the like, not unlike the dynamic of the figure-ground reversal in gestalt psychology where our perceptual systems oscillate between multiple plausible readings of a single image. For me, this dynamic is at the core of the appreciation of randomness.


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