Moshe Ladanga

1W 7- Chaos theory, complexity, and the heart of it

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In “Abstraction and Complexity” by L. Manovich, he elaborates on the potential of new media as an art form capable of representing the world in a meaningful way. Surveying the Abstraction Now online exhibition, he found examples that were attempting to describe the world in the context of contemporary connectedness, the global information society. One example, Yellowtail by Golan Levin, uses algorithms to enable viewer-fed strokes strike, flow and endlessly repeat patterns that recall the moving forms of currents (water, electricity, etc.) He also cites other works, and points out their respective aesthetics as indicative of the analogous relationship of art and science.

His way of explaining this relationship is prefaced by the parallel developments of Abstraction in Modernism and the “deconstruction of the inanimate” in science. To put it simply, as scientists were reducing the world into atoms and constructing elegant simple rules to comprehend them, Kandinsky, Mondrian, and other artists were reducing the visual experience into simple visual elements (points, planes, color, etc). In contemporary new media, especially in software art, the same relationship is occurring. Artists take their cues from chaos theory- a set of paradigms that describe the world in terms of fractals, algorithms, recurrent patterns.

And here lies the problem. The representation that they are trying to do is merely descriptive of the complexity of the moving image of chaos, and more often than not, replicate it in animations, installations. The attempt to humanize it by way of interactivity is I think a long-winded road. Ron Burnett’s essay, Projecting Minds, addresses this problem, and even traces its roots to the invention of the daguerrotype, where the concept of the image became an industrial one (replicative, “realistic”, etc). It is this perception, or nowadays, habit, that we unconsciously exercise when we process images. We take for granted images around us, especially in popular culture and art, and presume and assume that these represent “reality”. Artmaking in the digital realm has a similar paradigm, which assumes that representing complexity is a way of describing the human condition.

What I seek as an artist is not mere representation and description; I seek an informed and philosophical practice that will contribute to not just the body of knowledge of art, but to life. I seek to not only study and analyze the human condition, but to contribute to the evolution of life.

When I read the different essays, books, gallery catalogues, instinctively I sense a precocity for all things new and all things old. Maybe it has to do with this age of surfaces, of images for images alone, and on the other end a contemporary archeology of knowledge that misses the big fact that almost everything laid to paper is up for questioning- analogous to the way software monopolies are being undermined by open source. Where do I stand in all of this? Is it even valid to stand, the act of it a relic of Western thinking?

In Art&Lies (Jeannette Winterson), the poet Sappho changes her/his/her character in a flux of words- Sappho becomes the poet, the writer, the lover, the beloved, the kiss, the sex, the wound, the balm and finally, in the cathartic end, the words in flux. The poet becomes the act of creation. It is in this, the implicit acknowledgment of creation as a profound action, where I sink my hands and partake of the currents.



Written by mosheladanga

October 30, 2007 at 11:01 AM

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