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In its printed form this Artist's Statement is on 8-1/2 by 11 inch paper, with the two images beneath it on the same page.


As children, most of us looked at and explored the world with a primal sense of wonder, and one goal of my work is to help viewers recover a little of that awe; the paintings of van Eyck are a key inspiration. Additionally, multiple views, some showing the same or related scenes from different perspectives, are meant to heighten both the special power and the inherent fragility of every image, each an imprint of a single instant in time. My "Permutations" also engage with chance. The images in each sheet, as well as their orderings (read left to right and then top to bottom, rows before columns), are chosen from a small group of predetermined images using random numbers. Then the visual architecture, the arrangement of images on the page, is determined using my subjective aesthetic judgment, trying to allow every image to resonate with every other. Each "Permutations" sheet is printed in a unique edition of one, as a sign of the momentary nature of all our visions, of all human effort.

My use of random numbers is neither a Cagean surrender nor a conceptual gesture. From the actions of subatomic particles to the arrangement of galaxies to, perhaps, the workings of the human brain, randomness is a real aspect of the cosmos, and I wish to incorporate it into my work as a way of trying to pry open a tiny window onto the universe's hugeness. Within the largely chance arrangement of stars in the night sky, the ancients divined human and animal figures, the constellations, and invented stories about them, early evidence of the innate human quest to create pattern out of chaos, to find meaning where it might otherwise seem absent. In that tradition, I wander through my images, looking for a thread, inventing obscure little stories for myself, and also sometimes leaving imperfections in image orderings, traces of the original randomness, behind, in works that I hope both evidence the struggle to find order and testify to the partly arbitrary nature of all human constructions.

Fred Camper
Chicago, Illinois
August 25, 2007.

Permutations 2: Berdan Forest, 7.2, from Permutations 2: Berdan Forest                                   Permutations 3: Pompeii, 10.1, from Permutations 3: Pompeii

Other Artist's Statements     Fred Camper art     Complete Fred Camper art