random objectivations (1963)
objectivation is important as a part of my occupation with 'visual information'. 'visual information' is here used in the sense of hans sleutelaar [Hans Sleutelaar at the vernissage of the exhibition 'anno 62', 't Venster, Rotterdam 1962] who thought the term more appropriate to the new conception than the term 'art'. as an extreme consequence of objectivation i tried to eliminate the personal - not the human! - element in my compositions by way of the random method.
the word random here implies the purely haphazard treatment of the experimental material. therefore it is desirable to ensure that the events in question are sufficiently random by using some special technique [N.T.J. Bailey, Statistical Methods in Biology (London 1959)].
the true meaning of randomness has profound philosophical aspects, but there is no reason to go into these here.
various sources of random numbers are available, but the most convenient is table XXXIII in fisher and yates [Statistical tables for biological, agricultural and medical research / edited by R.A. Fischer and F. Yates (Edinburgh 1953)]. the first six pages of the table contain 15.000 numbers arronged in pairs. these numbers have been generated so as to be on effectively random or haphazard series of digits. without embarking on any detailed logical analysis, we can loosely define what we mean by 'random' in this context as follows. each of the digits 0, 1, 2, ... 8, 9 ought to appear in a long series with approximately equal frequencies; so would all possible pairs 00, 01 , 02, ... 99, and all possible triplets, etc. in fact any specific pattern of digits ought to appear with approximately its calculable chance of occurence. the tables have been tested to make sure they have these properties.
carrying out my compositions called 'random objectivations', i started reading the numbers from a haphazardly chosen point of the table, and gave a 'value' to each digit. value here means: a colour, gluing on a square or leaving it out, etc. in this way i obtained results which were acceptable for the spectator and gave the impression that they were intended as art. i would like to point out that all compositions are of equal quality if they are sufficiently large i.e. made with more than 20 or 30 numbers.
the 'random objectivations' i started in 1962. other things i am doing are white collages (first in 1958, continued in 1960); white paintings (since 1959); reflecting objects and surfaces, made with glass granuals (since 1960); objects in the form of blocks and columns, mostly of wood pointed white, and also of such materials as glass und steel (since 1960); white books (1961 and 1962) objectivations is an important element common to all these activities. the choice of the depersonalized act is as important as the creative act itself.
source: herman de vries, 'random objectivations', in nul = 0. tijdschrift voor de nieuwe konseptie in de beeldende kunst / revue pour la nouvelle conception artistique ... 1, n° 2 (1963) 34-35. This text is reprinted in to be : texte - textarbeiten - textbilder (Stuttgart 1995) 26-29.