Friday, January 21, 2011

Romancing the Random

A wonderful essay reflects on how society seems to be enamored by the random lately. CNN has the random moment of the day, a website invites random webcam conversations, there is random play of music. Is there some meaning behind it all?

"It’s hard to know just where this new fondness for the random has come from, but certainly we seem starved for surprise and improvisation. Somewhere between the acceleration of contemporary life, the precision of communication technology, and the overall efficiency of the digital age, we seem to have developed an appetite for the haphazard. In the age of information, when it takes a second to Google a name or a date, a minute to download an entire book, we tend to operate on the premise that life is knowable....

Randomness can be complex, interesting, beautiful. Or it can be none of these. Unpredictability can be just as dull as predictability. The inexplicable and accidental have always held the human imagination, but the often uncritical way we romance the random now makes me want to search out those enterprises with a genuine literacy to them...

Maybe the point is that exploitation of the random finds its greatest meaning when it establishes a rhythm with the intentional; that the unexpected, changeable, and instantaneous can be folded into the calculated, into the deliberate. As in life itself, what’s compelling is the choreography of what we control and what we can’t. And how what we choose manages to coincide and coexist with what we can’t, don’t, and wouldn’t ever."

As we navigate through our mass media and Internet exposure, even the subjects of our posts for those who blog, it's interesting to deconstruct the possible aesthetics, literacy, and perspectives behind it all.

Akiko Busch from American Craft via UTNE reader.