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Randomized Text Drawing #2

Charles Gaines (b. 1944) Randomized Text Drawing #2, 2006 Digtial print and color pencil on paper 54 1/2 × 22 1/2 in. The Studio Museum in Harlem; Museum purchase with funds provided by the Acquisition Committee 2007.21

Invested in the meaning of systems and structures, Charles Gaines here juxtaposes what appear to be random images and phrases to test the expansive potential of language. A photograph of the night sky is paired with arbitrarily sequenced sentences from two iconic texts: Gabriel García Márquez’s novel Love in the Time of Cholera (1985) and cultural theorist Edward Said’s groundbreaking book Orientalism (1978). Sentence by sentence, Gaines produces a new, poetic message that signals the way in which words, much like the cosmos, are haphazard until assigned subjective meaning through the endless possibilities of a human perspective.