What is Unintentionalism?

It is probably easier to start off by saying what it is not. It is not wilful randomness, it is not chaos, it is not anarchy in most people’s understanding of that term, nor is it what occurs in the absence of any kind of author. It is not what is inside, neither is it what is outside – it is what issues from outside the outside (or inside the inside), from an impossible place that, mainly without knowing it, we keep bumping into hundreds of times a day.

Put simply, it involves what comes to us, rather than what issues from us, and it tends to do so when the ego is distracted, when we are not paying attention, when we are mindless and attending to the detail, the minutiae of what we are doing. It could just drop into our mind, or it could seem initially to be a mistake. Its source, that is to say, is not the Self, though it may come, unintentionally, from others or, apparently randomly, from the outside world. It is what impells us, and it requires a high degree of openness and humility to allow it to do so.

Frequently it is accompanied by a sense that there is an order and a logic, a written quality, to all that is happening to us and around us, a sort of fatalism or inevitability which is, nevertheless, alive and playful. A sense that we are, ourselves, actors in a drama that is being created despite us. When we don’t have this sense, then we become Intentionalists and what we produce will never surprise us.

To a certain extent, then, to be Unintentionalists involves exposing ourselves to chance, creating space for accidents and then pursuing and working with them rather than deleting them, picking up on coincidences and felicitous occurrences which can come to us from every possible angle - conversations, books, tv, nature, the weather, political events and so on. It involves a more quantum way of thinking, a fuzzy sort of logic where, whilst we are producing work, everything is in a state of flux and all possibilities are simultaneously present until we close them off by making decisions based on what comes to us, moment by moment. It is not about the product (which would be Intentionalist), but the process, and that process involves us in a necessary continuous suspension of disbelief (in how we are actually doing what we are doing), in a concentrated, meditative facilitation of the work.

It is movement, without us. it is linked to Hyperrealism.