Random War

Charles Csuri

24 August 1967

Reprint 2006. IBM 7094, drum plotter. 110.5 x 244 cm. Reprint 2006: dye-sublimation on white aluminium. Courtesy: the artist.

400 identically formed soldiers coded in red and black diminish into a vertical ground plane. Two lists of serial numbers and names, one for each army, stretch across the top. The lists indicate which soldiers have died, which were wounded, which remain missing, and which survive.

One hero is recognised on each side and is listed above the medals awarded for valour, good conduct and efficiency.

Csuri served with the U.S. army in Europe during World War II and witnessed first-hand the insanity and absurdity of war, where fate is a matter of circumstance and luck. To reflect this fact, Csuri uses an iconic little green toy soldier to represent the individuals in Random War.

He captures the chaos of the battlefield by using a random number generator to place the forms on coordinates and to rotate the bodies in two-dimensional space. The names of the soldiers are all real people and include Csuri himself, whom the generator assigned to the list of the wounded.