Automatism, as I see it, is rarely practiced. The important thing is that the work should emerge out of it’s own immanent tendency. Both the ego of the artist and all teachable methods for voiding that ego are external to the work. The toss of a pair of dice, a mathematical system, the action of the wind and the rain—all external. The twentieth century saw heroic efforts to objectify and externalize the procedures of art, with admirable success, but none of them, in my opinion, succeeded in giving the lead to the work itself. Automatic techniques either provide an occasion for the artist to stick his or her face back into the picture, or just exist, like mere phenomena of nature. Either way, inadequate. More attention should be paid to Pollock’s remark “I am nature.”
If the artist and work form one system, there are many things that interfere with it’s functioning, a lot of sand in the gears. They are my ideas, my needs, my talent, my wit, my intentions, my expectations, my habits, my strength, my weakness, my independence, my tendency to follow—there’s a lot of work for an artist to do to facilitate the emergence of a piece of art that has its own reason to be. Systems and methods are ways to dodge that work, and even though dodging work is an honorable modern enterprise it sadly cannot be done in this case.


Hans Arp, Papier Dechiré 1934

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