Randomness and sets

A few years ago I wanted to make a generative sound piece so I made a script with an array and a loop that chose at random a command to play an individual piece. I wasn’t particularly happy because it just didn’t seem random. The problem that I didn’t understand was the occurance of sets. Truly random phenomena have sets but they are random : ) so my generative piece seemed repetitive and I blamed the bash shell. To solve it I introduced three scripts that did random stuff, sets would still occur here and there but it was better. The iPod had a similar problem when it first came out people complained that shuffle wasn’t random so Apple had to make it less random to seem more random. Humans don’t really get randomness because we look for patterns and that is our benchmark for intelligence and understanding. I was thinking about ink blots because I came across some the other day on a pavement and I found it fascinating. I took a very cropped photo it was actually very big and dynamic but I didn’t want to record the whole thing. I liked it because it was unexpected. Sets though are not necessarily predictable but they still can make a pattern. What I imagined was a series of ink blots on pavements say around thirty and each would be distinguishable and in this case the similarities would be the ink and how it moves or marks a surface. To get a visual set is a big task maybe many thousands  of pieces or even more to generate a set but of course the variables are larger. Ink though can be predictable in what it can achieve at least in technique but of course what you can do isn’t so predictable but there are repertoires or things you can do with it.

I suppose structures exist that give you something to work with like my faces where I will use a reference but totally change the face into a particular painting and a particular face which is a far cry from the reference. My generative piece could have been much larger to minimise the sets but it was simply a test bed to see where I could take it and I did learn something from it at least. I may come back to it and make it larger possibly able to play from a range of a hundred small sounds that can be looped and arrayed to generate something a little more interesting.

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