The Random Community Generator
February 24, 2014
by Matthew Gioia
The Random Community Generator is an interactive project designed to generate a random community of 15 people who, by either purchasing or bartering for one of the pieces in the series, agree to become acquainted with the owners of the paintings which come before and after theirs in the series. The series is itself a “community” of 15 visceral and boldly colored 18x26 oil paintings. Energetic and defiantly opaque, the paintings contain aggressive elements which thrust themselves off the painted surface, longing for release into the third dimension. Discreet rivers and pockets of luminous color saturate the canvas beneath criss-crossing paths of uncertain trajectory. Yet despite their apparent abstraction, there is a creeping sense that the paintings are actually a concrete rendering of the vertiginous tumult of impulse, image, and ancient emotion that swirls just below the more or less ordered surface of human consciousness; the tumult which divides the world from our knowledge of it. Produced as one massive painting by hanging 15 canvases in a tight row and applying elements in a sequential manner from beginning to end, the series expresses varying degrees of chance and manipulation which interplay within each piece as well as throughout the collective whole. Thus, the paintings are separate yet inextricably linked by elements which move ecstatically across multiple canvases. Taken as a whole, the project is a map of a mind, which is - in the first and the last instance - communal, complex and messy, organized by the logic of dreams.
The interactive component of the series is laid out as a social and interpersonal experiment designed to facilitate an examination of the perception of separateness and identity. First, the project asks, “can a randomly generated or accidental community be as meaningful - or even more meaningful than a community based on occupation, convenience, interest, or faith?" And then the Community Generating begins dealing in ideas, and tips into abstraction. By challenging our stagnant definitions of community, the project asks us to look at the division between our private and public life, between the kind of community we would most like to be a part of and the kind of community we actually create, and between the people we are, the people we think we are, and the people other people think we are. Indeed, the Random Community Generator, by its process of creation as much as by its experimental distribution plan, generates profound questions: is there any such thing as a distinct individual? What comprises a person? How do people overlap, echo, mirror, and create each other, consciously and otherwise? The paintings will disband, but could it ever be possible to really know any one of them without knowing the others?