::: chance :::

net.flux : the art of the fugue


Chance is a synergetic installation that combines code, image, and sound to create a cross-sensory, polyphonic experience. A landscape of painted walls and multi-channel sound encloses the viewer. Choreographed by code, a circle of machine quartets investigate chance, emergence, friction, resonance and change.

when & where

the exhibit "chance" runs from october 19, 2017 - october 2018 at the tweed museum of art.

an opening celebration will be held the evening of october 19, 2017.

other events

video work samples

work in progress / sketches

chance screen recordings and installation footage
chance screen recordings (early version) ::: 1 screen
sound sketches

sound is generative in the exhibit itself ::: a networked orchestration / sound mobile made up of small buffers of found sound mixed using the Web Audio API

track » northern spark 2017 ::: prelude to chance

track » minimalist soundscape for out-of-phase multiple channels


chance, uncertainty, randomness, variability, noise, polyphony, ecosystems, multi-threadedness, dynamical systems, networked art, generative art, algorithmic art, orchestration, language, humans and machines, webs


Chance is a synergetic installation that combines code, image, and sound to create a cross-sensory, polyphonic experience. A landscape of painted walls and multi-channel sound encloses the viewer. Choreographed by code, a circle of machine quartets investigate chance, emergence, friction, resonance and change ::: a cloud orchestration.

Chance opens October 19, 2017. The year-long exhibit will be a living, evolving space ::: a residency / habitation / research lab / performance space. Printed artifacts will be left in the space to give the feel of blueprints / notes ::: a score. The Sax gallery at the Tweed is a luminous space. Its many skylights filter shifting seasons and variable weather patterns ::: a photosynthetic recitation. It provides a sanctuary ::: a place for rest and reflection.

This is a time of great planetary change and political turmoil. Chance has evolved under these skies. There is a machine / human friction present in the space. As the work evolves I have a sense of trembling before god ::: a struggle towards language & coherence ::: an ongoing ritual of conceal & reveal / imprint & erasure / struggle & resistance. As a queer artist I inhabit a landscape of the infinite between. This work embeds an infinite series of choreographed transitions. Machine renderers will perform their twists and turns (their monitor-bound between-ness) 24/7 for a year. The marks across the wall echo the arc of my body.

Chance explores the intersections between art & technology / humans & machines / polyphony & mathematical systems. My generative artwork is inspired by the mathematical representations of ecosystems that I studied while a student at the University of MN, Duluth. Mathematical models are often used to represent physical systems ::: our ideas about how the world works. They are like a score / orchestration / script / generative code. Algorithmic blueprints draw the contours of change and movement ::: convergences, divergences, emergent patterns and cascading, system-level impacts. Mathematical models can depict the complexity and profound tension between independent threads and the bounds of interconnected webs ::: the polyphony of life.

Code is a literature ::: a pattern language ::: a score. It is a choreography ::: a performance. A code renderer is the weaver ::: the mill ::: the alchemist ::: the wizard. Code is a spell ::: an incantation ::: an intent. When code is performed it is an activation of text ::: a linguistic gymnastics.

In a perfect confluence of electricity, network, rhythm, memory, processing, action & reactions a program comes to life ::: Pinocchio ::: a real boi at last. The program (the cybernetic ze) speaks to us, calculates for us, responds to our touch : our keystrokes. It becomes our mirror :|: our cyborg self ::: our memory.

other thoughts

Chance is a frayed thread, a stochastic cloud, a pointillist field, a variance, a complexity, an uncertainty, a ragged line. Chance is a prayer ::: slim window of chance ::: survival in this time of profound climatic change. Evolution requires variability, chance and fruitful deviation. A system's ability to adapt to change depends on its ability to mutate ::: on trial & error & improvisation.

This installation combines code, paint, and sound. A pure tone can be modeled with a sine wave. Sounds produced by horsehair, pine pitch, metal, wood, friction, sinew, bone, breath and reed are a complex crash and tumult of waves more like an ocean than an oscilloscope. Worldly sound is gorgeous in its noise and deviance from pure tone. The exhibit blends the generated hum of sine waves hovering near 4 tonal centers with a subtle chordal wash of natural sound.

Indeterminacy ::: a line opens into a surface of possibilities. Random numbers ::: probabilities ::: a pattern emerges from the haze. Time & space carve out convergence or dissolution ::: balance, extinction or chaos.

Connectance ::: ecosystems embody the tension / balance between individual life threads and the complex web of community. Resilience of the whole depends on intricate relationships between the parts. To live in a networked, interdependent system is to be bound but also to be fed.


Essay by Jamie Ratliff

Radio Gallery: Interview by Maija Jenson for KUMD, Dec 6, 2017

Moving Image Impressions – Headlong into the Void by Allen Killian-Moore for Perfect Day Duluth, December 01, 2017

Kathy McTavish's Chance Unfolds at the Tweed by Ed Newman, October 21, 2017

University of MN, Duluth Interview, August 15, 2017

Live, Local CBS 3 Duluth Interview, October 23, 2017

Duluth News Tribune Interview by Christa Lawler, December 8, 2017

WDIO Interview, October 24, 2017

still media sketches

generated tests

thank you

Kathy McTavish is a fiscal year 2017 recipient of an Artist Initiative grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

Exhibition also funded by Tweed Museum of Art, UMD and the Marguerite L. Gilmore Charitable Foundation Fund.

Funding for an early prototype was provided by the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council.


technology used