Kim: Nice. I keep messing around until I see something that speaks to me. I guess it would be like throwing scraps of paper down until you like the arrangement.
Sarah: That make sense, a bit of a found art process.
Kim: Is it different than writing? You throw down words until they make sense. Or is there more?
Sarah: You have hit a button for me. I am often thinking where do the words come from, the poem comes from. And who writes it. It's not that different from visual art. Where did that image come from? what does it mean for you and why did it come up?
As for writing being throwing down words until they make sense, I would say, that's not it at all.
We can make found-writing poems, but that's only one corner of writing. I did one out of a state sign on a creek that had a history related to the Civil War and another about statements and objects in a classroom related to the theme of apathy. Much like your nephew(?) selecting from data until a point emerges. But what we are responding to is a similarity to forms we use in created writing and a meaning that emerges. You in your present artistic project look at a series of randomly (?) created images and pick one that resonates. It resonates because you can see a symbolism in it or point to it and at least an impact from the visual composition. So in that one little corner of art and of writing, it's a lot alike. I guess I'd say that's letting a lot of random input come in until something flows by that grabs you because it doesn't feel random, but, as you say, makes sense.
But as far as writing created from scratch (as opposed to found), there's no throwing down words at random. Even the first beginning phrase or word, which might come to you, comes with at least unconscious sense to it. Or at most, if it is truly random, is immediately connected with symbolism and associations. We react to a found object or a random word with a Rorshach connection--the shape becomes a butterfly or 2 faces or whatever, constant creating of meaning. And from that seed a sentence forms and then another, following the meaning that appears.
I would say words do not come at random. They are meanings that elaborate themselves through associations and memories and ideas and rhetorical structures (like story or contrast or cause and effect or description or image) and even things like sound similarities. And they originate below the conscious mind out of something that is not yet words (T.S. Eliot--"a frog voice waiting to be born"). Perhaps from the primal void, the dynamism that is constantly spilling from formless potentiality into being. That surge becomes partially formed into emotion or dream-image or movement. and then it comes more fully into form shaped by words and structures.
A found poem or found art would have to be a variation on that. Something in the unconscious recognizes a correspondence between the random image and some emotion or imagistic symbol that it can give voice to. It "makes sense." We agree on that part, the image making sense to us. I just disagree with the throwing words at random part.
Hope that is not just a big jumble of words.
Kim: I love what you wrote… and I disagree, of course. At least I think it is not either or. Just take the thoughts that pop into our head. They seem random, but we can follow them or ignore them or something in between.
It St. Louis, sometimes our writing group would pick a book randomly and pick a page and paragraph randomly and then that would be our prompt.
But that’s just the beginning. It would be like dropping a photographer out of an airplane. That’s the beginning. Then she would explore that landscape and develop it from his random beginnings.