Destiny Awaits You at the Next Counter We Will Be with You Shortly!
Dita Malečková

Chance is a word that we use to describe things that we cannot predict and that have an aura of something magical, a joining of destinies. Our entire supposedly rational culture is fascinated by a form of information technology that over the past fifty years has conquered the world – machines for predicting the future. At the highest levels of our (collective) consciousness, we look down upon pseudo-sciences such as astrology, and yet we read horoscopes every day and are fascinated by the more or less guilty pleasures of the Mayan calendar, tarot cards, the I Ching, or at the very least the messages found in fortune cookies. 

Fortune-telling systems find fate in things that seem otherwise random. Regardless of whether we find the idea of fate terrifying or soothing, we encounter some form of prediction of the future every day, even if just during the weather report. 

The advice of oracles, however, was always risky and ambiguous and was sought out only in extreme situations. Not only did the oracle forever alter the future of the questioner (and we should ask, without demanding an answer, whether the future would have been different if the person didn’t know it in advance), but there was also a chance that the answer would be misinterpreted.  

Unknowing That Knows Not
GASK, Kutná Hora, 2019

Chance is generated by a system that is sufficiently complex, one which creates a sufficient number of possibilities so that there is room for surprises. Our digital society has created a new dimension, an algorithmically generated complexity. We are part of a digitally interconnected web, a set of data, a statistical component. Chance, that necessary deviation, is neutralized; actions are predicted and managed by marketing strategies that take advantage of knowledge gleaned from epidemiology. Our place has been predetermined for us: we wait in line at the post office, at the government office, at the doctor’s office, holding the number that we have drawn. Our position is determined by the fact that we have arrived at a particular place at a particular time, with all the events and decisions that led us to this point already behind us. 

The work of Pavel Tichoň – and not just his most recent project titled Unknowing That Knows Not – is inextricably linked with chance. His works are characterized by the beauty of chance encounters (or failures to connect – as the vacuum cleaner that is not fulfilling its purpose in life in Art That Nobody Understands Isn’t Art). 

Unknowing That Knows Not
GASK, Kutná Hora, 2019

The artist is a medium, to a certain (feasible) extent a neutral instrument, a piece of sensitive recording equipment capturing the pulse of an era, using play and mistakes to call attention to the codes that run society. The work of art thus functions like fate, like an oracle: it has a predefined course, guided by chance encounters.

Pavel Tichoň likes to work with literality, with a top layer that we can perceive as a smooth deposit, a display of reality, or a surface beneath which we sense the inexhaustible complexity (code) of the depths. The function of such literality is paradoxical: it hides nothing, and yet underneath it we encounter infinitely many layers of meaning, the reading of which simultaneously involves writing, recording one’s own story (a prophesy heard). 

His work is both soothing and unsettling, just like the awareness of being part of a system, an algorithmic destiny. All we basically want is to be reassured that everything is okay. Don’t panic! We just need to pause for a moment and relax. To receive confirmation. Your request is on its way to the proper authorities. Destiny awaits you at the next counter. We will be with you shortly!