Aleatorics and Reimagination as Principles of Creative Processes

Text and Illustration by Corinna Heumann

Aleatorics, or the play with chance, has nothing to do with probability theory or game theory. However, it has widely been established as a creative technique in recent decades. As a method of penetrating previously unknown imaginative spaces, it was first systematically applied in the visual arts about 100 years ago in Dadaism and Surrealism. Random events in visible reality are considered the starting point for exploring invisible worlds, such as those of dreams and the human psyche. 


With consciously induced spontaneous actions, the so-called Happenings, the most surprising possible contexts of meaning are produced. By means of their interpretations one penetrates into unconsciously experienced events. The power of observation and the senses are sharpened. Possible connections between the levels of experience are explored. From this develops a way of working to spontaneously generate creative processes not only in the visual arts, but also in music and literature. The audience is an active part of the action, instead of a passive user or consumer. Moments of surprise are thematized in order to overcome and integrate ossified thought structures. 

God does not play dice

On the one hand, the game with chance is about the famous bucket of paint dumped on the canvas, but on the other hand, it is also about structuring and classifying the associations associated with it. Chance and structure alike come together to form a work or, at times, a world view. The aleatory game picks up the human need for patterns, order and a fixed point in a world that is mostly perceived as a constantly changing chaos. God does not play dice, the inventor of the theory of relativity once stated, thus ruling out chance in physics. Colleagues disagreed with Einstein’s deterministic approach. This discussion is as exciting today as it was then.


Deterministic ways of thinking lead to dead ends in art – in life as well. Their rigid laws are constantly challenged by creative processes. Ideas, new forms of life and alternative points of view usually arise unexpectedly. They can neither be calculated nor computed. Art arises only by linking coincidences with regularities – new life likewise.

Rethinking the world

This title of a book and play by transformation researcher Maja Göpel expresses a widespread discomfort with our current way of life, which is considered desirable, however. Every human being is an artist, observed Joseph Beuys. Every human being has creative potential to shape his or her environment. So what is more pivotal to master the challenges of the present than to deal directly with the fundamentals and infinitely diverse modes of operation of creative processes in the age of artificial intelligence? What is more essential than to understand them, to implement them in a self-determined and individual way? 

Reimagination: The Oracle of Delphi

Know thyself! was the starting point and challenge of antiquity to find the right path into the future. Today one would say: Be creative! Concrete shaping of the future is not limited to art and its techniques, but is a constructive method of shaping life. Only in the inspired play with the coincidence of life and its interpretation, meaningful spaces open up for more sustainable ways of living to create a world worth living in.

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