James Merrill - Chaos Blocks #18

Chaos Blocks #18

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James Merrill’s “Chaos Blocks” drawings explore the tension between order and chaos. Each drawing in the series is reminiscent of a geological drawing, and we see them created on the screen as each layer draws on top of the next. After the layers are created, each is filled with an unexpected, vibrant pattern. James is reacting against the inhuman perfection that often characterizes visual art created through machines. With this focus, his work has a strong relationship to many of the first plotter drawings created in the 1960s that explored randomness to circumvent precision. James amplifies this further with his library of dense and meticulous patterns.

“Chaos Blocks” is a software NFT, but the first collector of each edition will receive the corresponding plotter drawing shipped directly from the artist’s studio. Each software NFT includes millions of other images beyond the primary image for each edition. The software NFT and the plotter drawing aren’t linked together; the NFT can continue to be collected on a secondary market without the drawing. Click on the artwork or press the enter/return key to generate a new image with a different random seed value.

The image you see on the main artwork page on Feral File is the plotter drawing for the artist-proof (AP). Compare this image of the drawing to the corresponding software version of the AP to see how the software image and the plotted drawing are related. Because the artists are using a range of papers and inks, the software and physical drawings are delightfully different.

The “Chaos Blocks” drawings are 45.7 × 61 cm (18 × 24 inches) on Strathmore Bristol 400. They are drawn with Staedtler Triplus Fineliner pens.


Le Random Thread

Edition Type


Date of Mint

November 30, 2021

Date of Acquisition

June 4, 2024