Chance & Indeterminacy — First System

For our first project in class, we must create art using a system of random chance. I decided to create a system based on the Tarot.

The Basics

The Tarot has four suits: Cups, Wands, Coins, and Swords. Each suit is associated with a particular color: Red, yellow, green, and blue respectively. In addition, each suit has 14 cards, Ace to Ten and then four “face” cards. Finally, each suit is associated with one of the four classic elements and a symbol corresponding to that element:

Aside from the four suits, the Tarot also has a trump suit called the Major Arcana. These run from 0 to 21. Major Arcana also have symbols associated with them, but do not necessarily have colors.

Cards can appear as “upright” (right-side up) or “reversed” (upside-down). This will be incorporated into the system.

The System

Needless to say, the system involves drawing cards. For this project, I will set a number of times to draw the top card from the deck. After each draw, I return the card to the deck, shuffle a set number of times, and draw the top card again. I continue this until I’ve completed the number of draws. The total number of draws will be enough to create a perfectly square grid.

  1. Each part of the grid will be filled with a color and symbol corresponding to the card drawn. So, for example, if I draw a Wand, I will fill the square with yellow and put the symbol for Wands on it in black.
  2. If I draw a Major Arcana, I will put that symbol in on a white background.
  3. If the card drawn is “reversed,” then I will reverse the grid — put the colored symbol on a black background.
  4. Repeat until the grid is completed

Once the grid is complete, I’ll print and mount the final design.

Possible Variations

One variation I’ve considered is using the card’s number to determine how bright or saturated the color should be. Ace would be the darkest possible while still keeping it recognizable as the color, while the King would be the brightest or most saturated. I will have to do a trial of this to see what I think.

I should be doing an initial trial soon and I’ll post with my updates. I also have a completely different system in mind to try and I’ll write about that later.

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