Recently, the American sculptor Tom Sachs has been hosting office hours on Instagram. My standout favourite so far has been a talk he gave about Sol LeWitt on the 23rd of April 2020. In particular, this monologue describing wall drawings was brilliant:
You can see these variations… [what is] cool about the wall drawings is that you have these… strict lines, but there is all this art and expression of the individual. That a human being made this. If you gave this wall drawing to a robot there’d be no point. The whole point is that it’s human. But at the end of the week, or month, or however long it took to do this wall drawing, you have an expression of your work. And that information, whether you call it beautiful or not… You can’t deny that it is art. Art is art. Good, bad or indifferent, you can’t stop reality from being real. That was Marcel Duchamp and Flavor Flav in one sentence.
So… I did the thing with no point. I gave the wall drawing to a robot. More specifically, your robot. That supercomputer you carry in your pocket – that desktop, iPad or whatever it is that you are using to read these words. That was the robot that procedurally generated the above lines. Don’t like your wall drawing? That’s cool. Just hit refresh and get a new one. It will adhere to the following procedure, a la Mr Sachs:
- Do as many push-ups as you can to fatigue your arms to the point of failure.
- Then draw a line as close as you can to the one above it without touching.
- If you touch the line your turn is over.
- If you lift your pencil your turn is over.
- If you get to the end your turn is over.
The expression of my work – the code – was written over the course of two weeks. You can find that information here.
My arms may not be fatigued, but my brain is…
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