Tag Archives: science

So Much

So many blades of grass, so many twigs or branches on so many trees, so many insects, and above all, so many bacteria. As I don’t cease to mention on this blog, the number of details in the world is … Continue reading

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Planar Spaces

From Susskind’s book comes another important formulation, also mentioned in my articles of a few years ago, now revisited: “The maximum amount of information that can be stuffed into a region of space is equal to the area of the … Continue reading

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Invisible

Earlier remarks about the invisible greater part of an artwork used only classical, canonical paintings for examples. Actually, the point applies to abstraction more than anything, and the drive to eliminate the superfluous, which in some cases takes the form … Continue reading

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Entropy

Reading a book by Leonard Susskind, which gives me further perspective on the topic of abstraction and information loss—something I’ve written about but never fully understood. Or rather, I have trouble following the scientists when they say that nature is … Continue reading

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Scientific or Social Origins

I have finally got around to Lee Smolin’s new book, about time. As sympathetic as I am to his ideas, I can’t help but look toward the blind spots. Here’s one quote: “In the past, great conceptual steps in physical … Continue reading

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Emergent Space

Lee Smolin’s latest book, Time Reborn, is an argument in favor of the open-ended future. We may not have known it was endangered, but apparently one of the consequences of Einstein’s theory of relativity is that time becomes objectified as … Continue reading

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The Invisible Greater Part

In ordinary life one doesn’t have to see or know exactly how things relate in order to do something useful with them. For one obvious example, a cook doesn’t have to understand what is going on chemically in the oven … Continue reading

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Parts and Wholes Again (As Always)

I’m going to include an unusually long quotation in this post, from scientist and philosopher Abner Shimony.“…collective behavior in macro physical systems and in biological cells can often be explained in great detail in terms of the properties and interactions … Continue reading

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More Details

From Mother Goose: Little drops of water, tiny grains of sand, make the mighty ocean and the pleasant land.   I’m always astonished at the sheer scale of everything – that there are so many individual bits of gravel, grains … Continue reading

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Non-Identity Again

A recent article in the New York Times discusses the very bad idea that human rights should be extended to animals. I don’t think we can just carry on treating the rest of the world as if it only existed only … Continue reading

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Art as Production or Not

Blog reader Naomi Schlinke has drawn my attention to the following by Bridget Riley: “For well over two hundred years the idea of work in our society been modeled on the industrial concept of production. These demands, the demands of … Continue reading

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Origins

I’ve been looking at a recent catalog of Rothko’s works of the forties, the so-called “multiforms.” My friend Andreas Neufert is a big admirer of these works, but personally I find it hard to get interested. Yet Harry Cooper’s essay … Continue reading

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Digital Complaints

An article by Rebecca Solnit in the London Review of Books is one of the best critiques of the digital culture I’ve read. She says: “The real point about the slow food movement was often missed. It wasn’t food. It was … Continue reading

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Symmetry

The discussion of symmetry in an earlier post might seem strange to most readers, who likely think of it as a left/right mirroring, such as we have in our bodies. Science makes a more fundamental use of the concept. An … Continue reading

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Asymmetry

I found this quilt by Sonia Delaunay in the Sydney Paths to Abstraction catalog. I’ve been looking at it for a while, and just realized why I like it, and what it means for abstraction. The parts are not all … Continue reading

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Voices from the World

The recent interview with Michel Serres in Artforum was a bit of an eye opener for me, in that he is saying some of the same things as I say, though I have never read him. Well…similar. He thinks we … Continue reading

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Honor, Power and the Love of Women

From Freud, General Theory of the Neuroses Part XXIII. “The Development of the Symptoms” “Before I leave you today I should like to have your attention for a while for an aspect of imaginative life which is worthy of the … Continue reading

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Art in the Age of Reproduction

I’ve long thought that Benjamin’s famous essay was the worst thing he ever wrote, but whether I would admit it to myself or not, it’s probably because of the bad use made of it in the art world. Looking more … Continue reading

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The Gap

Again Ehrenzweig confirms something taught by experience: “…we know so little about the gaps in the perpetually oscillating stream of consciousness. In these gaps the work of unconscious scanning is carried on.” This thought coincides with earlier moments of this … Continue reading

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Science and Myth

Ehrenzweig makes the following startling claim: “The scientific explanation of the world, particularly through the myth of a compelling causality, is a very direct projection of oral-schizoid phantasy. According to Kelson the law of causality is quite redundant for scientific … Continue reading

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Internet Business

A review of Jaron Lanier‘s new book in Bookforum resonates well with my own thoughts on the direness of the internet. “We can each in turn go to our deaths giving away our value for some other entity’s benefit while … Continue reading

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Nature

In an essay about my work, Richard Shiff said that I produce a sense of place out of nothing and nowhere, the highest compliment I can imagine. My work is as arbitrary as nature itself—it unfolds according to immanent laws, … Continue reading

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Evolutionary Adventures

Still mulling over the mistaken understanding of the concept Anthropocene, mentioned in an earlier post. Hand wringing over the disappearance of species is very human I’m sure, but unnecessary. My children, like all children, are fascinated by dinosaurs. Why, I … Continue reading

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Economics of Blogging

Jaron Lanier’s new book makes a strong case that the digital economy is a rip-off, particularly of creators. This is something I’ve long thought, though my experience of it has been limited—until now. The previous post has a link back … Continue reading

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Learning down

This blog has occasionally commented on current affairs, particularly as to the role of technology in the economy. I think this is relevant to art, not least because the most overused word today (or one of them) is creativity. What … Continue reading

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The Contingent

Another important concept stressed by Stephen Jay Gould, one that is very much relevant to art, is contingency. He is talking about the possible pathways of evolution, but in art we could say that all works begin contingently and move … Continue reading

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Artists and Scientists

Like many, I read the popular books written by scientists because I genuinely want to learn about the world. Lee Smolin, Leonard Susskind, Brian Greene are some of the physicists I’ve followed, a few of whom I’ve met. In the … Continue reading

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Chance and Possibility

According to Stephen Jay Gould, the usual mode of human enlightenment “…is…not by global creep forward, inch by subsequent inch, but rather in rushes or whooshes, usually following the removal of some impediment, or the discovery of some facilitating device, … Continue reading

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Change, Evolution, Progress

Been reading Stephen Jay Gould’s Wonderful Life, finally, after long postponement. Well worth the time and effort. One point he makes, which can never bear too much repetition, is that evolution does not mean progress or development. We commonly use … Continue reading

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Science and Aesthetics

From Walter Benjamin: The place occupied in Goethe’s writings by his scientific studies is the one which in lesser artists is commonly reserved for aesthetics. This aspect of Goethe’s work can be appreciated only when one realizes that, unlike almost … Continue reading

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