hypertext dissertation - by Robyn Stuart

Living Systems

Lucas (2000a) defines a living system (or Kaufmann’s (2000) autonomous agent) as a complex system which incorporates:

a ongoing process that self-defines and self-maintains its form, reproduction is not a necessary function of this.

A 'living system' includes brains, societies, and ecosystems and I suggest that it therefore should include Rhizomes... Rhizomes is a complex system combining humans and physical elements in a nested web of relationships, and thus resembles an ecosystem.

Fiscus, (2001, Quote 33) suggests that life is inextricably linked to the ecosystem. That is, life is defined in relationship to the ecosystem and further that in the evolution of life the ecosystem came first. Ecosystemic functions, (such as energy flow and nutrient cycling) 'are more fundamental to life than cellular or organismic functions' (such as metabolism and reproduction). (Again) it seems that identity or the identification of an entity is based in relationship and that the event /entity develops or evolves from within a bigger framework. This argument is supported by research in Complexity Theory (Lucas, 2004c, 1997f), which shows how readily natural systems create complex patterns of part-order part-randomness from which new entities /events evolve or emerge. Yet the order that occurs must necessarily be defined in relation to an environmental context, i.e. its ecosystem (Quote 34, 2005b). Identity is context dependent; evolution is intertwined with environment and they co-evolve; that is niches or 'jobs' evolve in relation to evolution of autonomous entities (Kauffman 2000).

If Rhizomes is like an ecosystem, it should 'divulge' new possibilities of Vc-Pc relationships as the performers evolve Pc which increasingly 'fits' into the Vc. ... And this did happen, for example the possibility of tracing a constant Vc trajectory through different models occurred to us only after playing with matching performer still shape to a series of different still model position and then wanting to move between these model positions (this lead to creating Jemma's Transition Phrase). Also Curson's software development evolved upon experimentation in context; Vc development affected Pc improvisation; Vc-Pc relationships affected my vision for creating...

In contrast to common thought, systems do not necessarily flow toward total randomness. If a given system is already in a far-from-equilibrium-state (with respect to energy distribution, entropy) the tendency may be toward increasing order in a manner that allows a faster route for energy to flow toward areas of lower energy. For example water flowing down hill does not do so equally over a variable surface but usually carves channels through the softer areas of the surface in order to release energy as fast as possible. This is in line with the second law of thermodynamics outlining that systems tend to enter a more probable state (Lucas 1999c, Kauffman 2000) or that "the entropy of the universe increases during any spontaneous process" (see Lambert, 2003). This tendency to follow constrained paths is a characteristic of nonequilibrium complex systems (our world), and the inherent result is that cycles of work are created. These cycles of work also promote evolution into the adjacent possible. Complex systems evolve.

Ecosystems can be considered living systems, with the concomitant characteristic of self-negotiating a balance between order and chaos through causal feedback loops. Kauffman (1996) and Salthe (1993) argue that biotic systems evolve in an interlinked manner creating a hierarchy of extensional complexity, that is, there is a nested complexity (a stratified rhizomic web, with plateaus, and planes!!!) where, for example proteins are building blocks for cells, and cells building blocks for organisms, and organisms building blocks for ecosystems. Further they suggest that this nested complexity is a function of evolving complex systems whether they are biotic or abiotic material systems (see also Complexity Theory). I discovered nested complexity in Rhizomes while playing Rhizomopoly.

Most interestingly, Kaufmann (1996) goes further to theorise: what if this existensional complexity works upward not simply from molecular level but from the subatomic quantum level. He suggests that ‘evolving’ complexity at the quantum level which results in effects on the classical or above-quantum level could conceivably represent consciousness or "mind" influencing "matter". Thus, Rhizomes could be considered a living system because it is in a large part biotic, it has a nested complexity, but also because complexity at the quantum level may be creating a consciousness, which is organising the fundamental existensional complexity of the universe (Quote 37).

As a complex living system Rhizomes will evolve along the edge of chaos, being part order and part random...maximising the potential for adaptable variation.

3.1 QUOTE 49, QUOTE 53, QUOTE 48,
Home Page, 'Beginning', Conclusion, Acknowledgements, References, Rhizomes Performances, Performances as References

alKamie are members of Chisenhale Dance Space.
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