I have always been fascinated by kaleidoscopes — “an optical instrument in which bits of glass, beads, etc., held loosely at the end by a rotating tube are shown in continually changing symmetrical forms by reflection in three mirrors placed at 60 degree angles to each other” (from Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language). When I was a child, my cousin had one where you could change the little compartments at the end of the tube, so you could look at colored glass, or transparent shapes cut from plastic, or even one of paperclips. I’ve always been fascinated by the random combinations of color and form, creating geometrical shapes and beautiful flowers of color. It is temporary art (rather like watching clouds), but so fascinating, and never the same thing twice. Recently our granddaughter discovered my kaleidoscope, and seems to enjoy it as much as I do. 🙂
While the fact that it is temporary art has its appeal, I think it is also the fascination of watching random visual elements, and wondering what they will create. Chance dictates whether you will get a star, or a flower, or a cross, or whatever. As I got older and discovered textile arts such as macrame, crochet work, and weaving, I found myself fascinated with varigated yarns. As I work with the yarn, I am fascinated by the interactions of the colors . . . what patterns they make, and how they sometimes work together to form a clump of one color here or there. You know the piece will contain these colors, but not quite how they will look until you use them.
Obviously I am not the only one to be fascinated by random visual combinations, or they wouldn’t be selling kaleidoscopes and so many combinations of varigated yarn. There is even a commercial artist in Eureka, CA, who does performance art where members of the audience particpate in random art, inputting numbers into a formula which determines how blocks of color and form create a painting.
Then there is the ultimate random visual combination — begatting offspring. Whether it is animal or vegetable, there are various genetic “laws” that certain results are likely, but we don’t know exactly how it all combined until the offspring is produced. Will the rose be the hybrid we are hoping for? Will the foal be a palomino? Will the child have dark hair or blonde, blue eyes or hazel or brown, fair skin or olive, Grandpa Hubert’s nose or Great-Grandma Pearl’s jawline?
There is art in the world all around us. Some of it is beautiful beyond words, and some of it we may wish we had never seen. Though human art is often the product of great thought and planning, sometimes I think it is the random stuff, and the organized chaos of nature, that is the most interesting.