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Future Meetings

J. Gascoine-Becker

Jul 27, 1999

Re: Future Meetings

David Peat

Jul 27, 1999

Re: Future Meetings

J. Gascoine-Becker

Jul 28, 1999

Continuing the meetings in Pari, Italy

David Peat

Jul 27, 1999

Re: Continuing the meetings in Pari, Italy

Liliane Karnouk

Jul 30, 1999

Format for future meetings

Steve Rosen

Jul 30, 1999

Re: Format for future meetings

Inna Semetsky

Jul 31, 1999

Format for future meetings

Martha Senger

Aug 21, 1999


Date: Tue, 27 Jul 1999 14:15:24 +0000
From: Jemma Gascoine-Becker <>
Subject: Future Meetings

With regards to the Art/Sci conference I have been bashing some ideas around with Todd as to an appropriate sequel to the October Gallery session. I consider that this Art/Sci genre is about looking to the future, not in an idealistic visionary way as Modernism did after World War II but looking to the future in a pragmatic way, harnessing science as the vehicle for progression, the art element capturing imaginations and causing inspiration and excitement.

The thing about Art/Sci is that it is an emanation from the nineties (although I do agree with Todd that there are examples throughout the century of such work and indeed before it such as the work of the eighteenth century painter Joseph Wright of Derby). To me, existing in an arts sphere, one of the features of the eighties/nineties is the disestablishment of boundaries eg boundaries between disciplines or boundaries between countries - creating the EU etc. Compartmentalising is a stage of one's getting to grips with an area/issue. Having understood the matter however, one can then have confidence to move beyond the accepted markations in order to benefit by beholding from another perspective. The fact that society is at a stage whereby it is confident to erase the very borders and confines it once set up in order to help itself, fascinates me. Its part of our evolution. Consequently, for me, the title of such a conference should be something like 'Beyond the barriers' or 'Breaking with boundries'. This is more how I envisage a follow-up or add-on to the March meeting.

In terms of structuring the meeting I believe that everyone has their own agenda. If I Chaired a meeting my interests would cause me to navigate a discussion in one direction, another person would cause the meeting to veer somewhere else. Consequently, it could be interesting if you are considering having open debates again, to swap Chairs after several hour periods. And yes, I do believe in navigation of some description.

Date: Tue, 27 Jul 1999 14:15:24 +0000
From: David Peat <>
Subject: Re: Future Meetings

Dear Jemma,

One thing that really interested me in your email was your idea of having different chairs for each part of the meeting. The notion of a chair doesn't appeal to me, because it implies in people's minds a certain sort of meeting. But suppose we substitute the word "curator" for "chair". Then we invite, say, three people to be curators. That means they have control over the time, space, organization, etc - each taking one morning, or one afternoon. They are then free to "curate" that particular slot and do with it what they want. Maybe they make it an informal discussion, or maybe they create something differing with it?

I'd agree with Todd that there has always been a strong art/science connection. Or rather humanities/ science - you find it with John Donne and the metaphysicals, there was a great deal of connection made earlier in the century, e.g. Nuam Garbo and others.

My own interest was fired in the very early 60s when, at Liverpool University, a friend organized an Art and Science exhibition and there were lots of artists interested in such things as the mathematical transformations of objects, or making Henry Moore-like sculptures based on mathematical equations.

Le Corbusier designed the Phillips Pavilion for the Brussels World Fair - that was the very early 60s - based on a mathematical hyperbolic function. His assistant was Iannis Xenakis who made a musical composition that was to be played in the pavilion and was based on the same equation. (He also did compositions like Hypecube, based on all the group theoretical transformations of a cube- that comes from crystallography) and stochastic music, all using ideas from physics and mathematics. The actual piece that dominated Brussels and is still outside the city, was a vast atomic structure based on the sodium chloride molecule - with elevators inside.

Then there is M.C Escher, who had a strong connection with people like Roger Penrose and with Coxiter at University of Toronto - although art critics may not consider Escher to be an respectable artist. Now that's just one short time period - and you could find others. So I'd agree with Todd that there has always been a strong art and science connection.

But I also take your point about boundaries breaking down. Which is why I wonder if "art" and science is the right thing to do. Why not include Music as well, or theatre? I.e. I could pick out some composers who also have a strong connection to science. And I know some small theatre groups that are interested in the science connection. and has to the novel - Aurbon Waugh once joked about giving a special prize to a contemporary novel that did not employ metaphors from science. And then see how music, theatre, literature, film etc are also seeking to break boundaries.

But then IS there something special about art and science? And by science, do we end up meaning Theoretical Physics, which has radically changed our concept of reality, and our relationship to it.

All the best, David

Date: Wed, 28 Jul 1999 15:06:28 +0000
From: Jemma Gascoine-Becker <>
Subject: Re: Future Meetings

In my opinion there is no harm in people understanding that their being gathered in a certain space at a certain time is for a purpose. I don't think that people feel pressured by purpose, indeed it's far more scary to conceive that we don't have one in this life than we do. Perhaps it's just my personal ideology but I like progress. The point of gathering people together is to move forward somehow in one's ideas and notions via discussion. In a group its nice to move forward together, irrespective of disagreement - the search for truth is wholly personal. I just find that moving forward together is easier when you are being guided by one person. A space full of people with disparate agendas all pulling in different directions I feel gets nowhere fast. Far better that someone with a vision guides, moves the discussion in one area and that area gets dealt with thoroughly. I just see it as more efficient.

Substituting something else for the word Chair is fine. 'Curator' is fine except that the term connotes Visual Art. I do like the idea of rotating 'chairs'. The choice of 'chair' could be completely random, done by raffle or something - therefore the person would come to the role with no preconceived ideas - or is that too much like a game, but why not a game?

Regarding the term 'Art' . Art is a very general term. I think that is accepted by most people. Dance, theatre, music, literature, film etc are all part of the equation. I am interested in a lot that comes under this terms of 'Arts' that is quality (not country and western music though, can't believe that Todd has a penchant for it). I know next to nothing about science however, having up until recently mistakenly identified myself as an 'arts' person, therefore it is difficult for me to contribute anything to discussions which compare the two areas.

Date: Thu, 29 Jul 1999 09:26:14 -0700 (PDT)
From: David Peat <>
Subject: Continuing the meetings in Pari, Italy

Dear Colleagues,

This is to remind you that the Art and Science discussion continues on my Web site with a few more contributions to be posted in the days to come.

Let me also take the opportunity to raise two issues:

1. One topic that emerged at the October Gallery meeting in March 1999 was the desirability of having some sort of center where professional artists, musicians, writers, theatre people, film makers, scientists, etc could drop in, spend time, talk, exchange ideas, plan projects, or simply work together or alone. I have continued to discuss this idea with Todd Watts, also with people here in the village of Pari (located on a hill top near to Siena).

Pari may indeed be a possible venue for such a centre in the long-term. It seems to me that what would be needed as a next step is input from you all about what such a center could be, how it could function, etc.

It may be a good idea to have a small meeting here in Pari next spring, or early summer, to talk over these ideas - maybe 10 -15 of us. What would be needed would be funding to pay for travel - to Rome, Pisa or Florence. (We may also need funding for food an accommodation but at the moment I'm working on that one!!!)

Let me know what you all think of this idea - plus any ideas about funding, organization, etc.

Also, up to now the participants in these discussions have been from the sciences and what could loosely be called the "visual arts". I'd like to widen this to include musicians, writers, film makers, people involved in theatre, etc. Please pass on the Web site Address, plus email addresses of anyone you think may be interested.

2. I have also been involved in discussions about a possible Art and Science meeting to be held in New York. This would be, in part, a public event with major speakers, plus a smaller, closed event. Again I'd be happy to have input from you all about the possible focus of such a group and such a conference.

Some people I have already talked to felt that the informal arrangement of the October Gallery meeting was successful, others prefer something more formal with a chair or "curator" , or even rotating chairs. Some would like to create an environment in which we are free to talk and pursue topics that emerge, others would like to see us focus on particular issues.

Again I'd appreciate your reactions, which will be posted on the Web site.

Warm regards

Date: Thu, 29 Jul 1999 09:26:14 -0700 (PDT)
From: Liliane Karnouk <>
Subject: Re: Continuing the meetings in Pari, Italy

The following email from Liliane Karnouk raises some interesting questions. What are your various reactions. She also suggests a very direct way for us to have meetings - I invite you and you turn up?

Over the next days I will be having meetings with the local authorities here in Pari and the surrounding community to determine what sort of support they would give to such meetings. David Peat

The idea of small group gatherings in Pari feels right and since it is near the Trecento republic of Sienna, this should give us some idea as to how we can organize ourselves. Although I was not present at the previous meetings and cannot speak from experience, I would prefer to work without curators or even chairs. Why not YOU just inviting us in small groups ?

Each group could meet for a few days weeks or months, each individual will have to pay for his travel and a per deum for accommodations and food. If we like it , and you like us, we could return every year , to meet a different group or the same one. In time we will get into more elaborate projects and funding will be required. But not right now .

The way I see art and science is very simple and basic. Every subject could be suitable , it is not the issue that matters but how it is discussed. Furthermore I am not exclusively interested in "progress" , "regress" and the revision of the past are equally valid. If we want to bypass conventional borders we must do it both ways. Through time also. This is what kept me off the .. [Lilane mentions another meeting ]...... The tendency to rely on trendy issues and high technology.

Once more as an Egyptian born I felt the old colonial heavy hand. What about us I kept asking myself. Are being pushed away as past ? Are we out once more with the pretext that we do not belong in the post industrial world. What if my interest in art-science goes beyond UE into the North-South sphere? What if my two essential survival questions remains : What do Allah and the Corporations have in common and can an Art by rooting itself in Science bypass some of the most crucial cultural misappropriations ?

Frankly , I am not interested in searching for Western twentieth century heroes. Yes Le Corbusier and others were inspired by science. But, I feel that the 20th century in Europe is where art and science have been mostly kept apart. It is before , in the Orient, in Islam and certainly in the primitive cultures that we will find the best models of art-science thinking. This is why being in Tuscany is appealing to me, certainly we will speak of molecules and DNA but ultimately are we not speaking of a renewed ( once more ) form of classicism ?

Date: Fri, 30 Jul 1999 11:19:31 EDT
From: Steve Rosen <>
Subject: Format for future meetings

Dear David,

In your recent e-mail, you asked for input on just how future transdisciplinary meetings on art and science might work. As I suggested in my previous e-mail, I think that, in addition to considering the specific content of the meetings and their format (formal or informal), we might want to explore the possibility of a meeting that could operate *dialogically*, in the sense of Bohm's initiatives on dialogue. In such an exchange, participants would attempt to give some attention to the assumptions they are making, and to the motivations and feelings that underlie the positions they take. So our deliberations on the content of ideas would be phenomenologically grounded in an examination of the concrete dimension of our interactional process.

As you may know, a move in this direction was made at the 1997 Temple University conference of the Center for Frontier Sciences (published proceedings are available). The topic was barriers to communication among different scientific disciplines and the sessions were not only informal but often dialogical. I was pleased with the outcome of the meeting, found it quite fruitful, but would have liked to have seen the dialogue open out more broadly to the arts and humanities as well, so it would have the transdisciplinary scope that you are advocating.

Steve Rosen

Date: Sat, 31 Jul 1999 16:35:00 -0400
From: Inna Semetsky <>
Subject: Re: Format for future meetings

Support Steve!

I took part in the meeting he mentiones (as an observer) and noticed the prevalence of instrumental reasoning becuase people were mostly from hard sciences or medicine, but also trend or potential for artistic or creative expression to manifest in the same people when given opportunity.


Date: Sat, 21 Aug 1999
From: Martha Senger <>
Subject: Format for future meetings

Dear David,

As one who participated in the Art & Science meeting in London in March (and have since struggled with the mixed feelings it raised for me) it's good to hear the contradictions between what Jose Arguelles calls "the schizophrenic twins of modern Western culture" beginning to be addressed in the recent e-mail exchange!

I see a number of contexts emerging - something I felt eluded us in London as we attempted to discuss the issue without situating it in the context of the historical relation between art and science, including what happened to the lifeworld after art and science split off as separate spheres from their original pre-enlightenment unity, and how that led to the antinomies of modernism and the present postmodern moment that questions not only positivist science, reason, and history but also the continued existence of art as an autonomous sphere!

As J.M. Bernstein wrote in "The Fate of Art" - "Modernity is the separation of spheres, the becoming autonomous of truth, beauty and goodness from one another, and their developing into self-sufficient forms of practice: modern science and technology, private morality and modern legal forms, and modern art. This categorical separation of domains represents the dissolution of the metaphysical totalities of the pre-modern age," which in turn has led to the reification and rationalized violence of everyday life.

This situation, which makes up the postmodern condition, has finally caught up with us and must be addressed if we're to build a bridge between art and science and by that union - most critical for our species and planet - build a higher-order bridge between form and life. Gregory Bateson said we need to restore the "ecology of mind" - the metapattern or circuit between nonconscious analogue and conscious digital processes that's been broken and must be reconnected if we're not to end up in what he called an evolutionary cul-de-sac. In my assessment as a painter turned aesthetic theorist and activist, this means moving beyond the autonomy of art and science as we presently know them to a higher aesthetic synthesis of both which in turn means deconstructing the many-leveled contradictions that still divide them. (Remembering Hegel's admonition about "the seriousness, the torment, the patience, and the labor of the negative"!)

I thus agree wholeheartedly with Jemma's idea of a conference to be titled 'Beyond the barriers' or 'Breaking with boundaries' as it would create a complex context for our discussions capable of embracing related thinking in psychoanalysis, social anthropology and new philosophy that decenters the subject, allowing us to look at a broader aesthetic integration of poststructuralist thought. (Douglas Hofstadter comes to mind basing his theory of subcognition on the recursive patternings of Godel, Escher and Bach.)

Such a poetic-hermeneutical approach would allow for deepening the dialogue via what chaos theorist Ralph Abraham calls a "grok circle," the recursive process that advances the whole through symbolically interpreting the parts. Similarly, Claude Levi-Strauss proposed that primitive cultures are structured by their discourse which gave "discourse" a new and privileged status in deconstructivist and hermeneutic thinking, as well as in art. In this way, as he points out, mythological discourse becomes mythomorphic - that is, has the form of which it speaks.

I also agree that having people with different points of view "curate" topics would add to the richness of the dialogue while allowing them to be potentially cohered by a context that embraces difference but is relevant to them all.

A poststructuralist context would also call forth a focused rigor of thinking that, as Roger Malina said, has been too typically lacking in much art/science interdisciplinary thinking. For example, I read through the catalogue of an ambitious international conference held in Copenhagen in 1996, "Art Meets Science And Spirituality in a Changing Economy," that included such luminaries as David Bohm, the Dalai Lama, John Cage, Louwrien Wijers, and Ilya Prigogine - but despite the many brilliant individual ideas expressed, could find little coherence among them which I sense resulted from mixing ideas without examining their shared patterns and processes or lack thereof. Gregory Bateson's ideas of the primacy of pattern and the hierarchy of logical types seem relevant here - also the advent of chaos theory. As Ralph Abraham wrote in "Chaos, Gaia, Eros" - "the Chaos Revolution is emerging as a space-time pattern bringing chaotic order out of chaotic dis-order."

Thus I like Steve Rosen's idea of holding meetings that operate "dialogically" to allow the living out of the "holomovement" that David Bohm wrote about in an open, inter-imaginal process. The philosophical scope of Bohm's thinking has been an immense influence on me as an artist, concerned as he was with overcoming the fragmentation in our thinking that blocks its unfolding.

I see Bohm and an increasing number of others doing science as a work of art, as John Briggs suggested, inspired by an aesthetic and spiritual experience of the cosmos' elegant workings. I'd add that "meaning" science also encourages artists to address form and truth head-on again, where much contemporary art has, in the wake of deconstuction and the disasters of our era, backed away from the possibility of truth, or the engagement of artistic vision with the immense problems of our malformed life.

Marxist philosopher George Lucacs wrote "form and life have been divorced since the 17th century." That's the larger reunification I hope might come out of our conversations. It was toward this goal that I created the G2 Institute - a group of artists and scientists, including yourself, who're exploring a new domain that incorporates both spheres within the context of a new cultural paradigm I call integral aesthetics or aesthetic systems theory.

In "The Laws of Form" G. Spencer-Brown extended Boolean algebra to include a fourth class of statement, demonstrating that beyond the true, false, and meaningless a valid argument can also contain the IMAGINARY. As he writes, "the implications of this, in the fields of logic, philosophy, mathematics, and even physics, are profound...When the present existence has ceased to make sense, it can still come to sense again through the realization of its form," that is, by reflecting back and forth between an image and its content in a calculus of "cancellation and condensation" whereby "the existential condenses with the universal."

When translated into the cultural context of a form of life, an image of wholeness, economy, and beauty similarly permits disparate domains to be bootstrapped and nested within each other in what I envision as a fractal trajectory in phase space in the mode of mythic cultures -

That's what I experienced at an artist's live/work hotel in San Francisco, the Goodman Building, where an underground culture cohered & shifted to a collective state when our nonconforming habitat was threatened with demolition - a vector we maintained for a decade despite overwhelming odds due to identifying and evolving shared goals, values & strategies for action at often miraculous weekly meetings, where we'd opt out of what didn't feel right and reinforce what did. While some were drawn to engage the impending threat, it was not allowed to interfere with the nurturance of the building's culture, although some (including myself) were moved to engage the press and public in a dialogue about our differences in form. Ours was, in systems language, an autopoietic whole system that moved against the flow of entropy, triggering a cascade of synchronicities and new levels of order. What was more, time seemed to be absorbed by our drama, which I felt to be acting itself, in dream-mode -

This inner city epic of the real now serves as a heuristic myth for the G2 Institute in its critique of commodity culture, an integral way of living and working that conserves resources through its compact form as it creates complex, shared meaning through discourse and a multi-dimensional mix of self-managed functions - a 'cold' concensual alternative to the 'hot' society of competition and dominance that's destroying us and the planet. Goodman1 was lost but we've since created Goodman2, designing it on the topology of the torus which links mind and mass, form and chaos, to restore the structure of shared vision and practice that was broken during the industrial era. I call it chaos architecture.

In "Destiny and Control in Human Systems" philosopher-mathematician Charles Muses advanced a theory of "chronoetics" - a science of synchrony and qualitative time that links psychodynamics and chronotopology within a "chronotopological praxis," which he describes as "the analytic-interpretive art of conducting situations to optimal outcomes, by means of principles we are just beginning to understand..." He adds "The object is to surf on time...we come around a little differently each time - on a helix."

Such notions have the potential to trigger a leap to the higher space/time form of the Great Attractor we seem destined to meet. Alfred North Whitehead predicted such a concrescence in 1929, writing in "Process and Reality" - "The ultimate metaphysical principle is the advance from disjunction to conjunction, creating a novel entity other than the entities given in disjunction." He also said the teleology of the universe is directed to the production of beauty!

I wish it were possible to have a permanent gathering place in the States as well as at Pari. The G2 Institute will have a visiting studio available in San Francisco soon, but it will only accommodate a few people at a time. Perhaps we might look at doing something in collaboration with the Djerassi Foundation? Also, could we consider holding a conference here? As I've mentioned, the San Francisco Art Institute has expressed interest in hosting one -

It was inspiring to read your article "Blackfoot Physics and European Minds" on your website - it provides a profound explanation of what we've lost and illustration of what we might hope to regain.

All my best,


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