Using strict rules, I construct images on the belief that limits have an eerie capacity to generate surprise...even freedom. Chaos and emergent system theory tell us that these limits need not be elaborate, or even obviously visible; in fact, it is often the most humble and self-evident limits, which, in time, behave in the most sophisticated ways. They form bizarre chandeliers of crystal, guide the catacomb construction of ant colonies, the spread of cities, and the swoop of flocks, all, often, with eerie similarity. Awareness of these limits does not guarantee predictive power, or the ennui of omniscience.

This is good, and fascinating.

And it is through this means that I make my work: every piece is the manifestation of a predetermined scheme – a system of small limits with a clear beginning and end. Using abstract symbol (what I call ‘modules’, much like number and letter forms) in a mode of familiar, naturalistic construction, these pieces of visual script are allowed to accrue and to display their peculiar surprises. In this way, an unlikely path of discovery is opened in the midst of certainty- though every step is predetermined and the end known from the beginning, the final form remains enigmatic. Though I have accumulated an extensive archive of ‘research drawings’, end results are stubbornly, delightfully immune to absolute prediction.

Add to these systems environmental pressures (in this case, cataclysmic spills of paint flung over fully realized systems) and the flexibility and regenerative capacity of a given set of rules is tested even further. The system must then respond and rebuild using fragments of surviving information. Images generated this way hover near familiarity but are unable to declare themselves. They occupy both the micro and macroscopic view. They are both geologically slow and disastrously swift.

Working this way, I have become convinced that intelligence can be essentially understood as the ability to create or recognize pattern; perhaps patterns themselves are a form of intelligence – intelligence capable of surprise, without breaking a single rule. Which, in the end, is a satisfying contradiction, an energetic tension of philosophical forces hospitable to constrained freedom and consistent astonishment.

 

Linnea Gabriella Spransy