InterJournal Complex Systems, 599
Status: Accepted
Manuscript Number: [599]
Submission Date: 20628
Initial Conditions to Final Results in the Complex Systems of Art and Science
Author(s): Ellen Levy

Subject(s): CX.16, CX.41, CX.43

Category: Article


Systematic approaches to making art share certain methodologies with conducting scientific experiments, such as establishing a set of parameters and constraints to set a process in motion. Approaches may also include replication, creative “tinkering.” Despite these similarities, the evaluation criteria of these two activities encompass different aims and modes of address – in fact, different languages. In contrast to science, where reproducibility of results is valued, qualia are often evoked in the arts. But this begs the difficulty of assigning consistent, shared values used in assessing art since for art, the intention as well as the end result is what counts especially where replication occurs (e.g. appropriative visual strategies). In certain ways, complexity approaches help erode this presumed subjective vs. objective distinction for the arts and sciences. Cultural models of innovation and learning bear particularly meaningful analogy to complex adaptive systems in biology (e.g., processes of biological mutation and adaptation). Artists as well as scientists can portray how novel innovative or adaptive utilizations may lead to a breakup of constraints, yielding unpredictable results. The morphologist D’Arcy Thompson is relevant to this discussion as are others, including scientists and artists, who have modeled dynamic change over time. Artistic approaches both with and without extensive technology can focus insightfully on evolutionary processes. Along with other artists who have work experience in science, I have found ways to adapt generative and visualization techniques to topics of biological and cultural evolution. With our greatly expanded technological means to simulate outcomes, the real has at times become co-extensive with the artificial. Complexity theory plays a role in mediating these changing conceptions of nature and culture.

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