|- Marcel Duchamp - Chance and Indeterminancy|
There are many
examples in Duchamp's oevre, where chance plays an important role to arrive
at a certain point in the creative process of producing a piece of art.
In the 3 Standard Stoppages,
Duchamp takes the three threads and uses Poincaré's scheme to verify
probabilistic systems of chance.
Marcel Duchamp: Three Standard Stoppages. 1913-14
Fig.: Marcel Duchamp: Three Standard Stoppages. 1913-14
"The Idea of
-- 3 patterns obtained in more or less the similar conditions: considered in their relation to one another they are an approximate reconstitution of the measure of length.
-- the 3 standard stoppages are the meter diminished"
"I'd say the
Three Stoppages of 1913 is my most important work. That was really when
I tapped the mainstream of my future. In itself it was not an important
work of art, but for me it opened the way -- the way to escape from those
traditional methods of expression long associated with art ... For me
the Three Stoppages was a first gesture liberating me from the past"
Duchamps ideas regarding chance and determinancy were particularily influential for composers in the late 50ies and for a number of artists contemporary to Duchamp.
Pablo Picasso: Bull's Head
Fig.: Pablo Picasso: Bull's Head
Click on the image to see Pollok's painting Number 1, (Lavender Mist) National Gallery of Art. 1950
Around 1500 Leonardo da Vinci published his essay "On Painting" where he stated:
"... Don't underestimate this opinion: Every now and then stand still and watch the patterns which by pure chance have been generated: Stains on the wall, or the ashes in a fireplace, or the clouds in the sky, or the gravel on the beach or other things. If you look at them carefully you might discover miraculous inventions. The painter's spirit is influenced by these inventions and he will be guided to arrive at new inventions by the power of their seductiveness...."
Hans Ulrich Reck (in Gendolla/Kamphusmann) on the other hand values the importance of chance rather low: "There is nothing like chance in the Fine Arts, a lot we see just looks as if it would be connected to chance."
"There is no place for chance in the arts, there are just strategies to play a game of hide and seek with the recipients. What they might conceive to be hazardeous are strategic moves - if you look at them closely - which try to appear driven by chance for those who have not yet discovered the strategies." 
Many artists and theoreticians try to differentiate between chance, hazard, indeterminancy, random processes and aleatoric processes.
 The original text in German reads: "Es gibt keinen Zufall in der bildenden Kunst, vieles sieht nur so aus, als ob es damit zu tun hat."
"In der Kunst gibt es nicht Zufall, nur Überlistungsstrategien, die dem als Zufall erscheinen, der sie als Listen noch nicht zu durchschauen vermochte."
George Brecht: Chance-Imagery. New York: Something Else Press, 1957/1966.
John Cage: Extract from "A year from Monday". In: Jasia Reichardt (ed.): Cybernetic Serendipity. The Computer and the Arts. Special issue of Studio International, 1968.
John Cage and George Brecht: Variations III. 1963/1982.
Gottfried Boehm: "Zur Analyse eines künstlerischen Prolems bei F. Morellet." In Exhibition Catalogue François Morellet, Nationalgalerie Berlin, 1977.
Dick Higgins: Computers
for the Arts. Somerville, Mass.: Abyss Publications, 1968/1970.