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Interesting how this Samuel Beckett (1906–1989) quote to his work is so close to the research on Artificial Life (aLife), as well as how Christopher Langton (link) approached the field, on his initial stages, fighting back and fourth with his Lambda parameter (“Life emerges at the Edge of Chaos“) back in the 80’s. According to Langton‘s findings, at the edge of several ordered states and the chaotic regime (lambda=0,273) the information passing on the system is maximal, thus ensuring life. Will not wait for Godot. Here:
“Beckett was intrigued by chess because of the way it combined the free play of imagination with a rigid set of rules, presenting what the editors of the Faber Companion to Samuel Beckett call a “paradox of freedom and restriction”. That is a very Beckettian notion: the idea that we are simultaneously free and unfree, capable of beauty yet doomed. Chess, especially in the endgame when the board’s opening symmetry has been wrecked and the courtiers eliminated, represents life reduced to essentials – to a struggle to survive.”(*)
(*) on Stephen Moss, “Samuel Beckett’s obsession with chess: how the game influenced his work“, The Guardian, 29 August 2013. [link]
“Coders are now habitat providers for the rest of the world.” ~ Vitorino Ramos, via Twitter, July, 17, 2012 (link).
Video lecture – Casey Reas (reas.com) at Eyeo2012 (uploaded 2 days ago on Vimeo): From a visual and conceptual point of view, the tension between order and chaos is a fertile space to explore. For over one hundred years, visual artists have focused on both in isolation and in tandem. As artists started to use software in the 1960s, the nature of this exploration expanded. This presentation features a series of revealing examples, historical research into the topic as developed for Reas‘ upcoming co-authored book “10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10″ (MIT Press, 2012, book link; cover above), and a selection of Casey‘s artwork that relies on the relationship between chance operations and strict rules.
… fortunately for all of us.
“The three stages of response to a new idea: 1. Ridicule 2. Outrage 3. Declaration that it’s obvious” ~ Arthur Schopenhauer.
[…] However, Cage himself never softened. The culture might have moved on, but he kept on his radical edge, continuing his revolution in a quiet way for those who cared not only to listen, but to act on and live by his words. Through the 1980’s, Cage’s influence was felt in the underground, influencing many of the more interesting cultural movements of that decade–the birth of indy rock, the renewal of Conceptual Art, and the rise of Language Poetry. Many of these artists studied Cage in the ’60s and ’70s and went on to synthesize newer aesthetic/cultural concerns with older Cageian ideals. While the 80’s played out in the media with Wall Street Yuppies and decadent consumerists grabbing the spotlight, many of us spent time on the edge of the culture, which in turn planted the seeds for the more politically charged times in which we now live. […] The final essay here is “Poethics of a Complex Realism” by Joan Retallack and note the word realism in the title. Retallack begins her essay with an invocation of American Pragmatist John Dewey’s “Art As Experience” and launches into a long discussion of the idea of weather as it relates to the ideas of John Cage. Cage said that he wanted his music to be like the weather–unpredictable, omnidirectional, impermanent, and always changing–complex systems that parallel the conditions of our daily life. He did several works involving the weather, modeling his ideas after nature (again, a tip of the hat to American Transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau), which are described here. Retallack takes the word play of weather/whether and sets up a correspondence between the physical (realized) and the theoretical (unrealized). She then posits an ethic based on the principle of weather/whether. Imagine, she says, a culture sophisticated and open enough to be able to accept difference and otherness, a culture that rejects the oversimplified media response of black/white, yes/no, a culture that embraces complexity and contradiction–a “breathable” culture. And it is here where the book brilliantly dovetails with the multicultural attitudes sweeping the country today. Cage stands in opposition to the reductive and closed ideas that multiculturalism have come to stand for. While multiculturalism plays by the media-supplied dualistic rules, Cage seems to dump the idea of rules altogether and instead celebrates the idea of difference and unpredictability as a prerequisite to understanding and accepting the difficulties inherent in a pluralistic culture. It appeals to this reader as the path of least resistance and being based in action, seems entirely workable. The multicultural debate has made many people aware of the issues, but it stands in theory only and lacks the kind of pragmatism and functionality that could lead to real change as prescribed here. […], in Kenneth Goldsmith, University of Buffalo, 1995, reviewing and revisiting “John Cage Composed In America“, Essays edited by Marjorie Perloff & Charles Junkerman 1994, 286 pages, paperback, The University of Chicago Press, USA.
Video – John Cage, appearing on a 1960 CBS gameshow called I’ve Got A Secret (from Ian Leslie + Alex Ross). Cage’s ‘secret’ is that he is an avant-garde composer. After being introduced by the presenter he performs a piece called Water Walk (… more).
Working in various media including printmaking and film, Susan Aldworth has developed an extensive body of work that explores the nature of human consciousness and identity. Through blending personal and scientific narratives, Aldworth aims to challenge conventional definitions of portraiture through an examination of the internal structure of our brains. From the intricate details of the micro-circuits formed by billions of brain cells, to the output signals that the brain generates and which are recorded through the scanning process and reflect our conscious experience. By its very nature, neuroscience offers a unique bridge between the disciplines of art and science, in its pursuit of understanding human consciousness. Likewise, Aldworth advocates the internal person as a proper subject of portraiture in the light of contemporary neuroscience and the consequent understanding of what it is to be human, and how we articulate these findings via our own creative and expressive means. [text from The Portrait Anatomised, LSE Arts, 2010]
Excerpt – “Dartmouth and the Liberating Arts“: […] Crucially, Deming (Edward Deming) then argued that this indispensable foundation of trust and shared commitment must be allied to a rigorous understanding of how complex systems work to produce desired results. (…) two sides of the educational mission set forth by my predecessors, a mission that in this historical moment is more vital than ever: on the one hand, the passionate commitment to making the world a better place; on the other, the practical understanding of complex systems required to deliver solutions on a global scale. Passion and practicality: Either without the other will be inadequate to tackle the challenges we face today. […] Jim Yong Kim, “Passion and Practicality: Dartmouth and the Liberating Arts“, new President at Dartmouth Univ. at his inaugural address, Dartmouth Speeches, Sept. 2009.
Allow me to give you a starter. Albeit this is only the beginning. There is much more at stake over this 1 hour and 15 minutes movie drama documentary: […] Did you read that the Japanese will be watching what’s going to be happening with American teenagers over the next 20 years, … and then they are going to decide to introduce GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms) into their food? […]
Alternately teasing and terrifying, STRANGE CULTURE molds one man’s tragedy into an engrossing narrative. In 2004, Steve Kurtz (Thomas Jay Ryan), an associate professor of art at the State University of New York, Buffalo, was preparing an exhibition on genetically modified food for the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art when his wife, Hope (Tilda Swinton), died in her sleep of heart failure. But when paramedics noticed petri dishes and other scientific paraphernalia in the home, they alerted the F.B.I.; within hours Mr. Kurtz found himself suspected of bioterrorism, his home quarantined and his wife’s body removed for autopsy. Filmmaker Lynn Hershman-Leeson bends the nonfiction form to her own unconventional will. The result is a fascinating collage of re-enactments, news clips and interviews, illuminating not only the implications of corporate meddling in the food chain but the ease with which innocent civilian behavior can become a suspicious act. [Text from the YouTube movie synopsis here]