Welcome to Improv Mondays, a weekly series exploring improvisation in quilt making. One of the better posts I found on topic was from The Quilt Engineer on Measured Improv. Latifa talks about "allowing for improvisation within specified constraints or parameters". Her definition when read in context refers to using a ruler to make her improv blocks, but actually improv is about working within limits, regardless of whether rulers are used or not.
At first glance the term "measured improv" may seem like an oxymoron but actually it is closer to a tautology. Using measured as a descriptive term for improv helps us understand that improv isn't random. Improv is about rhythm.
Also according to Latifa,
...the process of Improv is much more time consuming than a planned deliberate quilt. Instead of following a specific design, you have to cut, sew, iron, make a decision, and then repeat. Sometime the “make a decision” step takes a lot longer than I anticipate.
Latifa is right on. Improv is making a series of decisions one step at a time, each in response to the previous.
According to Wikipedia, the Oxford English Dictionary defines "random" thus:
Having no definite aim or purpose; not sent or guided in a particular direction; made, done, occurring, etc., without method or conscious choice; haphazard.
So is improv quilting a random process? Or does improv produce randomness? I don't think so, but randomness can play a role in improv.
Do you incorporate randomness in your improv process? How and to what effect? Does randomness guide your improv process? If not, what does? How do you balance randomness with decision making? Do you see randomness when you look at improv quilts? Or can you sense an order of some kind?
The history and theory of randomness is BIG so this is at least a two parter. If you want a little more stimulation read the Wikipedia entry on Randomness.