Gillo Dorfles
Oeuvre programmée No1

Random coincidence, encounter of two juxtaposed principles — of strict programming and absolute randomness can lead to such wondrous results that we must ask ourselves if these are not the same two “constants”, which today govern not only certain forms of visual art, but a large part of contemporary music and poetry as well. The dangers isolated use of these juxtaposed systems contains can be reduced to two: we either let rigid and absolute programming guide us, which can lead to solely technical execution. In that case psychological and perceptive element has prevailed. Or we can let randomness guide us, which almost inevitably leads to into the unforeseeable, the undetermined; in that way any kind of creative, lucid and conscious activity is eliminated.

However the artist is the one who must estimate the input of these two parameters in his work. His sensibility will decide on processes (beginnings, developments, and interruptions) his work will be subjected to. In Picelj’s case this instinctive but controlled ability is always present. It has been manifested in many of his works, in which the semantic value is never separated from the roles of color, texture, and rhythm of composition. Today we can discover this input even better in these twelve prints, which at first glance draw our attention by their technique, strict programming, freedom of composition, and finally the obtained whole. This time Picelj has used a single modular element: a circle intricately intersected by strips that get thinner from the central to the peripheral area. Repeating this hundred times in the strict form of a square, he has achieved absolute programming, although he has started the series by a print where positions had been obtained randomly. Looking at these prints it becomes clear that different permutations follow special laws: in one of them a striped circle is set so that the inclination increases, which turns its initial position at 180 degrees and each following line begins with a position equivalent to the one of the circles from the first row. The second print features interchange of vertical and horizontal lines. The circles in the third print form concentric squares or a rhomboid-like distribution. The print can also be divided into four sectors that form four squares and so on. In same prints vertical, horizontal or slanted distribution lead to emergence of different spatial configurations: thus a circular form appears, obtained thanks to a special effect of concaveness or convexity, but also, thanks to perceptive ambiguity, the effect of especially interesting formal indeterminability emerges, which leaves the impression of three-dimensional vibration in the absolute two-dimensionality of the field. In that way the random element, mostly used in the first print, becomes the element of programming in the following prints. Apart from this, programming can be achieved both within order and disorder. It can be obtained by following entropy and “negative entropy” of the function. Here we can observe that an electronic machine might be able to distribute elements divided into parts made available to it according to a certain “order-disorder”. This is, however, only partially true: in a sequence of twelve prints, Picelj applies many other technical delicate skills related to a series of aesthetic factors: for example, when his graphic model is printed on lighter or darker shaded white paper or when he — in other two examples — intervenes into the picture (the contrast of white on black has a heavy impact in itself) or when he uses silver ground.

Such subtlety is hardly observable, but sufficient to provide that which can seem just simple, too strict calculation, with a margin of indeterminability, which will mark the work and make it famous.

Foreword to
the Oeuvre programmée No1
Print Portfolio