Found Mathematical Objects

The idea is simple. Find an object, any object, declare it a work of art, and it is a work of art. Art becomes truly objective, just an object, artistic techniques become unnecessary, and the seeds of “non-intentional” art are planted at the same time. This Marcel Duchamp principle, the “readymade” or the “objet trouvé is now recognized everywhere as a perfectly valid way of making art. A generation of Fluxus artists developed this point of view, John Cage adapted it to compose music through chance operations, and it is now quite natural that a composer or artist might choose to work with a found mathematical object, like Pascal's triangle or the Narayana series or some automaton, just as well as with a urinal, a bicycle wheel, a comb, or a bottle rack.

Tom Johnson, "Found Mathematical Objects", 2001. [PDF]