There is a close connection between the avant-garde—Dadaist, Surrealist, and Constructivist—use of indeterminate procedures and the early-twentieth-century scientific theories of indeterminacy, such as those of Niels Bohr, Kurt Gödel, and Alan Turing. The Dadaist disruption of ingrained logics, through collage, chance operations, and the simultaneous poem, transcended causality to liberate “an infinite set of processes and possibilities” [1]. Surrealist psycho-archaeological techniques—automatic drawing, writing, and frottage—redefined automaticity as a source of a deeper, nonconscious surreality. Constructivism, similarly, made use of incongruous micro and macro fragments, collapsing orders of magnitude to “reassemble” the world along different axes. In quantum physics, Bohr demonstrated the entanglement of the observer, phenomenon, conceptual framework, and measuring apparatus. Given that all quantum experiments presuppose a question about either position (the particle aspect of a phenomenon) or movement (its wave aspect), but not about both at the same time, they could not deterministically predict an(y) individual atomic process, only statistical regularities. Gödel similarly demonstrated the incompleteness of formal axiomatic systems by showing that there are propositions that can neither be proven nor disproven. Elaborating mathematician David Hilbert’s Entscheidungsproblem—the question about the final decidability or predictability of universal logics—Turing likewise demonstrated that some functions cannot be computed.

You do not currently have access to this content.