Saturday, September 02, 2006

In Praise of Chaos...

This could be a sort of metaphorical portrait of my dining room table. Or my bedroom. Or my cubicle at work. So maybe I am just a clutter junky. I find myself drawn inexorably to the irregular, the unsymmetric, the disorderly, the "ugly" side of algorithmic art.

I remember corresponding with someone, perhaps Carol Walske, about chaos and fractal art and how so much of the fractal art one sees seems to attempt to eliminate the chaotic, to neaten it up, confine it to order. Like the artist is afraid of chaos.

I have been either actively or philosophically involved in fractals for almost 20 years now, and a biologist of sorts for most of my life. I have been entranced with the higher order that looks like chaos -- the "empty" field that is ecologically much more stable than the plowed and planted field next to it. It partakes of a higher that is not as easily apparent to the casual observer as the straight rows planted with a single species. But the order is there, to be sensed if not completely understood.

Let's hear if for chaos!


Blogger John S. Meade said...

(Who penned it? who knows for sure -- was either Joe Walsh or Steve Winwood.) It was Winwood who sang it, "A fine line -- a very fine line." And even >>that<< can be taken two ways. A dividing construct of possibly asymptotic proportions or some really really >excellent< stuff, man. It's fun looking for that line, the asymptote-like one; not so much fun looking for the other one.
Speaking of which...)
Crystals are pretty good at ordering things (And I >do< know a girl named Crystal who's pretty good with and Amazon (She was pretty good at getting my Amaze on too-- that's a diffrent kind of chaos in order entirely -- but I digress -- hooboy do I ever!)They(crystals. the first subject)are great at tuning and they add zest to my ham sandwich. But I don't see 'em much waking me up at 0234 dark to let them outside so they can go potty.

Sunflowers--- definitely among the living, do all those wonderful fibbonacci spirals without even thinking once about it. (Now to all my friends in Kansas, (Rolling my big beautiful brown eyes)I know God did it and yaddayadda yadda blablabla but it ain't illegal to ask "Hey! How's that done? or even why?)
(Speaking which...)
Now that the solar system's been a little renumbered I expect the same hooliganism to filter down to those sciences that examine the line between the living and the gee-i'm-not-so-sure-if-it's -alive-or-not. (Daddy? Did God make prions too? whyyyyuh?)

Like what's living and what ain't makes a big gawldangbingbangboom (
to chaos and order anyway.

Given the fact that we see all those crazy spirals in the cloud chamber results my guess is the fabric of reality in which is held all those cute lilltle spacetime continua is fractal in it's nature. I just hope it ain't really just the fabric of those paisley ties they keeping hawking (sorry Steve no pun intended) over at Macy's.

Sorry, I have to mention it. BUt, this comment was brought to you by all those wonderful folks over at the Association of wonderful folks who believe the world can be divided into 10 things (those of us who know and use binary and those who don't.).

9/03/2006 9:52 AM

Blogger Tim said...

It's a real puzzle why people seem to prefer artificial, processed imagery to the natural kind. Having grown up in the countryside I've always been intigued by how much work city people put into maintaining their yards when they would look much nicer and richer if they would only "neglect" them and let them become naturally overgrown.

With fractals too, who can imitate the style of random parameters or other forms of pure algorithmic creativity. So much great imagery is virtually "readymade" and needs only to be picked off the fractal tree.

Maybe we need to stop "borrowing" from fractals and start stealing.

9/03/2006 10:48 PM

Blogger Guido said...

How does Susan's sense of space differ fundamentally from the traditional three-dimensional geometrical space of our culture? For her, disposing forms in space is a matter of textures composited so that surfaces seem to emit a subtle light in the way of multiple modulated surfaces of color. But the “unlikeness” of her forms doesn't mean unlikeness to Nature and I think such ambivalence is the fundamental character of Susan's work. On one hand she is free to do what she wants; on another hand, her forms are merged in the physical, bodily world but (attention!) diverging from merely topological objects which references remain stacked in the Cartesian space.

How is that possible if I've said that Nature remains related to her conception of space? Which is the “Nature” we are talking about? Is it the same nature of things that she refers on her text: dining room tables, a cubicle at work, her bedroom? Even supposing that such would be the references to “see” her fractals, for me the “key of all things” is that Susan first makes the world disappear! And only after such an exercise, she gives us back a more supportable world!

If we try to relate her works to common objects, then we discover that such a relation is based on a method without mention of what she is describing, as if everything had become invisible except for a collection of textures slightly touched by a diffuse and colorful light. I have had, during the last four years, the chance to observe intimately how the “method” works: if we want a description of the essence of her achievement, it is to describe a rigorous experimental method. She first reduces the world to surfaces, and surfaces to textures, and textures to countless colorful points aggregated into forms without any relationship to each other except for their intrinsic “act of abstraction”. Would that be the same method of a programmer who transform things into numbers? Ah, this is possible! We learn that programmers also can make the world invisible since they transform things into numbers.

The difference is that programmers - despite performing momentous acts of abstraction – never can make things independently of “being things” first. But for an artist, the act of building things is an act of creation of space! And such space, despite being or not being related to ordinary things (see the van Gogh's bedroom), is created first and the things are within it and in accordance with the rules the artist´s space imposes.

Let us take the picture Susan shows here. What we observe is a total absence of things that could be related to the world. Not even a spiral is there to give us some sort of support for our vision. The space radiates around planes that can´t be related to any place at all. Mysterious, isn't?

No, it is very clear! What we are seeing is that everything begins by referring to nothing – by forgetting its origin! This is the “contribution” of Susan's visual mystery. The testimony of a “presence” that is not itself but is passing by is what makes understandable the vision of (non)things we're seeing. They, the things in Susan's works, are present in another space, in a twilight zone, in some place in between, in a space which is none other than a space where things are not connected with our ordinary way of accomplishing things and where things are never willing to be evident.

Doing so much like that all these years, Susan has established a sort of language by which she is trying to escape from the laws of ordinary objects. For me this is the same as making history! - The vision of an artist for whom history has turned into space and for whom space keeps turning into time - these steps gives to her language of forms a desire of cummunication – a desire of making things to communicate. These are (for me) the signs of Susan's mystery.

9/04/2006 9:40 AM


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