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This video was made in the context of Paul Festa’s Documentary Filmmaking class. The assignment was to capture an act of artistic creation, so I decided to film selections of a workshop given by Laura Kuhn, who introduced us to John Cage’s chance drawings. In ‘Art by Chance’ I have tried to explore the way chance and control can interact with each other when creating art. The music you hear in the second part is composed by John Cage using the principle of chance here as well.

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Laura Kuhn 1

Laura Kuhn drawing. Credit: Gaia Bethel-Birch (AY 2016)

Ten Bard College Berlin students set around the factory building tables on a Friday evening, each provided with only two dice, pen, paper, and twelve rocks they were curiously required to bring with them beforehand. As Laura Kuhn, the director of the John Cage Trust and the John Cage Ryoanji Drawings workshop leader took out a thick book with a minimalistic cover and introduced it as an old Chinese oracle used for guidance and inspiration, the cynics among us moved uncomfortably in their seats. Some of us were vaguely familiar with John Cage’s work while others knew nothing about it, but none of us knew what John Cage had to do with the I Ching. John Cage (1912-1992) was an American post-war avant-garde composer, music theorist and an artist most known for using unorthodox musical instruments and “chance operations” as he derived them from the I Ching.

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