hypertext dissertation - by Robyn Stuart

The art of science and the science of art:
The Beauty of Complexity Theory

In Rhizomes III we were looking to create patterns from a set of 'independent' scenes, which would emerge into one whole work-of-art. Through a practical investigation of creating art using scientific and artistic methodology, we discovered a bodily knowledge and understanding of Complexity that went beyond our understanding from purely academic reading. I began to reflect upon how art and science are intertwined.

Complexity Theory and related research has been used to show how complex mathematics equations can describe some music, visual art, and nature... (Lucas, 2005a, 2002b). Conceivably with time, our natural, social and artistic world could be described mathematically through a complex set of 'complex equations'. Or perhaps it is better said that it is increasingly appearing as if our entire universe from quantum level upwards is organised Complexly (Kaufmann, 2000). I hasten to add this does not require that the future is defined 'absolutely'. Both Quantum theory and Complexity Theory incorporate random states or probabilities, and Kaufmann (2000) suggests that by knowing all the bits that make up a system does not ensure knowledge of the system as a whole nor does knowledge of a whole system allow prediction of its evolutionary path ('we cannot prestate the configuration space of a biosphere' p107). It is the older Aristotelian based Maths that dictates 'absolutes' (Lucas, 1997d, Quote 3, Stengers, 2004), and upon which much of our education system is still based (Lucas, 2001a, Quote 5), that engenders the common suppositions of 'absolutes' existing, and of science's ability to discover 'absolutes'. All facts are relative to the total context in which they are 'discovered'. That is, facts are only facts, in relation to the whole in which they have emerged. Both philosophers Deleuze and Guattari, (1987) and Complexity Theory according to Lucas, (2005a) and Kaufmann (2000) agree on this. Returning to my point of combining science and art, mathematics through complex equations can not only be used to describe art-work but also create art-work (e.g. fractal art, Lucas, 2005 and fractal Music, Godric 2005).

Mathematics is usually considered a tool or branch of science (Concise Oxford English Dictionary, !999). The Concise Oxford English Dictionary (1999)defines science as:
'1. the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment. 2. a systematically organized body of knowledge on any subject. 3 archaic knowledge.'

If science is the systematic pursuit of knowledge, I believe that art also, could be perceived as a subset or 'tool' of science.

The Concise Oxford English Dictionary (ibid.)defines art as:
'1. the expression or application of creative skill and imagination, especially through a visual medium such as painting or sculpture. > works produced in this way. 2. (the arts) the various branches of creative activity, such as painting, music, literature, and dance. 3. (arts) subjects of study primarily concerned with human creativity and social life (as contrasted with scientific or technical subjects). 4.a skill at doing a specified thing.

I believe that these definitions of science and art are not mutually exclusive. I suggest that art could be interpreted to include 'the study of the physical and natural' world through 'creative' 'observation and experimentation'; and arts as 'a subject of study of human creativity and social life' can be interpreted as a 'systematic seeking of knowledge' i.e. science. The arts, I believe are pursued by individuals also attempting to understand through a practical process their contextual world and then communicate this understanding (e.g. Turner , date?).

Science also, could belong to a subset of art. Using definition 4. of art, it is possible to say that there is an art or skill of doing science. I will continue to use the term art allowing it to variously hold any or all of these 4 definitions, letting the context in which I use the term fuzzily indicate its meaning as done conventionally when using the English language.

Am I saying that Science and Art being both able to contain the other must therefore be one and the same thing? No! In the context of classical logic this deductively should be so. But, in the context of Complexity Theory or by a Deleuzian Rhizomatic system this is not necessarily so. Linear logic does not need to apply. (e.g. Fuzzy Logic, Lucas, 1999b).. the whole is more than the sum of the parts.... '1+1=2+' where 2+ = the emergent characteristics, extra attributes evolving from combining the parts... the strata of science and strata of art intersect or perhaps lie in the same space, and yet through different perspectives may emerge in different dimensions. I believe that scientists and artists in the last couple of centuries have lived with vastly 'different perspectives to each other'. This was perhaps not always the case e.g. Michaelangelo and Leonardo DaVinci were both artists and scientists.

From personal involvement in both Arts and Science, I know that many considered and still consider there to be a dividing line between science and arts. (See also Claxton, 2000). Factual/ objective or 'hard' knowledge pertains to science whilst 'soft' or subjective knowledge pertains to arts. The behavioural sciences blurred the border, but 'objective experimentation' is part of the accepted methodology. Yet recently in probing scientific methodology, the clearer it has became that science cannot be studied purely objectively. Reflecting over the history of science (perhaps inspired initially from the feminist point of view), scientists in the 1970-80s (Blaffer Hrdy, S. and Williams, G. C. 1983; Lucas, C. 1999b, Quote 11) could see that the scientific understanding of the world reflected the historical culture within which the scientific knowledge was gained. Simultaneously Complexity Theory was growing (Lucas, 2004h, Quote 9) and substantiating the view that there are no 'hard' or objective facts. This perspective frees science to include as David Byrne (1997, Quote 50) suggests more qualitative research, such as social research. But, this could conceivably apply to 'the inclusion of 'art as well, under the ‘umbrella’ of pursuing knowledge (facts which can only be ever understood within an environmental context).

McKenzie and James (2004) suggest that scientific leaps of understanding are often driven by a sense of aesthetics (Quote 25), and Klein suggests using aesthetics consciously when making scientific judgements (Quote 24).

So perhaps Science should actively include an 'artistic methodology ' in its practice.

In our contemporary society the distinction between the 'physical and natural' world of science and the 'social and creative' world of arts is slowly disintegrating (Klein, 2004). Science can be used to create art, and to be seen as art-work in itself (Lucas, 2005a), for example fractal imagery. Also elements of the physical or natural world can be exhibited as art, for example, dissected humans and animals (Johnston, 2002, Linbergs 2001). The physical and natural worlds are arbitrarily differentiated by human constructs. They are both co-dependent and co-constructed (Kauffman 2000). Humans are part of the natural world (and hence physical world) and so are all their activities. The natural world (and physical world) being the context within which the human social and creative world lies cannot be separated out when art is reflecting upon the human condition. Thus the scientific study of the natural world (and physical world) necessarily may include humans, their behaviour and constructed artifacts including art-work. And the working of art must necessarily include the natural (and physical worlds). AS science searches for knowledge of the physical and natural worlds it must necessarily include researching the human condition upon which art also reflects (studies) and uses the current (culturally contextualised) scientific 'knowledge' gleaned by science. Art includes Science.

Technology as a subset of science, also can become so intimately intertwined in the process of creating, producing, and disseminating art-work, that it can be impossible to delineate a boundary between the scientific and artistic processes involved in creating that art work. This was the case when creating Rhizomes. Both Curson and I were continually moving between both art and science. Was this done sequentially or simultaneously? Kaufmann's (2000, p. x) suggests that: 'Science and art - the practical getting on with it, wissen versus konnen in German, "know that" versus "know-how" in English, mingle in our daily lives.'

So science can be broadened to include art in its search for knowledge, consequent practical judgements, and leaps of intuitive discovery... and art can be broadened to include science in its practical search to exhibit, and reflect upon life/ 'beauty' / the aesthetic / the human condition. To live and create within our artificially distinct 'Science' or 'Art' requires both to "know that" and to "know-how" simultaneously. To combine these subjects into one plateau rather than force a distinction between the two allows a Complex mesh from which can and is emerging a whole new set of entities, such as technological art (e.g. Rhizomes). But further, as McKenzie and James (2004) point out (Quote 26) the common denominator of art is imagination and the concomitant property of composing involves creating patterns. Complex Patterns??? We circle back to science.

Technologically supported art-work are good examples of science and art blurring into each other in complex interconnections.

1.0 QUOTE 12, QUOTE 9, QUOTE 11, QUOTE 23,
Home Page, 'Beginning', Conclusion, Acknowledgements, References, Rhizomes Performances, Performances as References

alKamie are members of Chisenhale Dance Space.
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