Livin' in the Chaos Loop
by Jamie Wolfe
from MM05, released March 2020

Chaos has always been my preferred default brain status. The best metaphor for what I mean could be this made-for-TV documentary I saw years ago about a paranormal phenomenon called "streetlight interference." The show featured interviews with people who claimed to have psychic energy fields so strong that streetlights would flicker when they walked beneath them. One woman talked about how she couldn't wear a watch because her current was so strong that it would short circuit any electronic device that touched her body. I couldn't stop thinking about this. A wild swarm of charged energy zipping around these people, with a vibration so strong that it could physically change their environment? That's the closest description to what I want things to be like at all times. Just continually existing in a wild, chaotic cloud of my own making.
Artistically, it's the most-stimulated, creative-risk-taking brain space where I stumble into my best ideas. In moments where I'm feeling blocked, I've learned that the best fix is to release the bull into the china store – to induce chaos. It almost always gets me back into my flow. For example, I'll purposely use unruly tools that force my lines to jerk around. I'll chop scenes into smithereens and then intercut them randomly. I'll redraw everything through a distorted lens. Whatever disrupts my thought loops and gets my heart racing. Making things messier allows me to arrive more authentic truths that I couldn't otherwise find.
For years, I felt guilty about this. It's not proper to seek chaos. In public, I'd tuck in my shirt and try to blend in as somebody who has it under control. But the idea of "chaos theory," among other things, has helped me embrace the beauty in it all. Chaos theory is a branch of mathematics that's focused on the study of chaotic systems. I'm far from a mathematician, but as I understand, it suggests that chaos and order are not antithetical to each other. Instead, within even the most seemingly chaotic systems, there are underlying predictable patterns, feedback loops, and repetition. I think that's a beautiful idea. Chaos isn't just an unpredictable, out-of-control thing. There's a logic in it if you look closer. 
What if my affinity toward chaos was less about wreaking nonsensical havoc and more about the act of finding the predictable threads within it? Thinking this way allows me to lean wholly into my tendencies. Through the act of creating chaos, I open myself up to bigger ideas that I wouldn't have been able to articulate without all the vibrating influences of the disorder.
The animated loop is the ultimate container for chaos. As we watch a loop cycle through, we tap into a meaning beyond words or emotions. We just sit and soak. It's the closest we can come to experiencing infinity. Even when we close the browser window, the loop continues looping in the great internet abyss until another person clicks the hyperlink.
There's an all-at-oneness about watching an animated loop that allows us to intake chaos in a more digestible way. Humans are hardwired to lean toward familiarity, so when we watch an animated loop repeat in time, the predictable return to the beginning is pleasing to us. We stick around for the serotonin our brains release when – yes! – the loop ends precisely where it started. No matter how wild the animated action is, the audience can watch with a level of tolerance because the piece always comes back onto itself. It's an approach that allows the viewer to sit, understand, and reflect.
Almost every element of my work explores the juxtaposition of chaos and control. I create chaos through the way I paint my lines, my "choppy" editing style, and the structure of my arc. Alternately, I exert control through the creation of rhythm, repetition, and loops. I've learned to own an aesthetic where all of these contradictory ideas exist in harmony.
In moments where the chaos feels far from my control (for instance, any time I open Twitter), all I can do is trust that disorder is the ultimate loop, and that will come back around into a state of control. And then it will loop again and again. Forever.
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