Trevor on Sun, 27 Jun 1999 11:55:22 +0500

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Syndicate: An Aesthetic Manifesto?


   a.  Dialectic Axioms:

        Total Freedom leads to Chaos and Disintegration of Order
        Total Order   leads to Stagnation and Lack of Creativity

            Both states may be considered undesirable.

        However, both statements can be considered as forming together
        a single "Dialectic Axiom" in which two undesirable opposites are
        united so that a preferred state is to be found at some (undefined)
        point in between.

   b.  Aesthetics:

        The point of balance in a "Dialectic Axiom" may be termed "The
        Aesthetic Point". This implies that Aesthetics is not concerned
        with absolute conditions of beauty but with conditions of balance
        between opposites.

        From experience we can note that the "Aesthetic Point" is not
        permanently fixed but is a dynamic state of equilibrium within a 
        complex web of "Dialectic Axioms". Changes (or even lack of change)
        in de individuals environment can force changes in the points of
        balance required to preserve the total equilibrium.

   c.  Cultural Traditions:

        A group of people with a shared set of "Aesthetic Points" may be
        considered as forming a "Cultural Unity". Given a choice of
        solutions for a given problem, members of a Cultural Unity will
        tend to make similar choices.

        Shared experiences and other means of reinforcing the communal
        Aesthetic may be considered as "Cultural Traditions".

        Cultural Traditions may vary in the degree of diversity considered
        as desirable within the Cultural Tradition.

   d.  Space and Logic:

        Dialectic Axioms can be considered as dimensions in conceptual
        space. Combinations of Dialectic Axioms generate complex multi-
        dimensional spaces.

        From the characteristic similarities and differences of possible
        connections between points within a space we can derive concepts
        as "Geometry" and "Topology".

        Systems of Logic, expressed in terms of "IF x THEN y" can be
        considered as being concerned with the connectivity of points
        in conceptual spaces and therefore as being concerned with the
        Geometry of systems in a Topological Hierarchy.

        Aesthetic Choice may form the basis for Practical systems of Logic!

   e.  Aesthetics and the Logic of Space:

        If aesthetics is defined as being concerned with a point of
        balance between two (or more) opposing axioms then, the way
        philosophical systems of thought regard the concept of
        "Opposition" is of great importance.

        In a system of logic based on flat Euclidian space opposing
        concepts, such as "True" and "False" or "Left" and "Right",
        always remain a contradiction of each other. A point of balance
        between two such oppositions is in effect an integration of
        two qualities which in principle cannot be integrated. From a
        Western philosophical viewpoint there is always something
        paradoxical about aesthetics.

        In a system of logic based on spherical space there are many
        directions one may take to reach a given position, also to
        depart to the West means that one will return to the starting
        point coming from the East. Opposites are therefore not opposed
        and there is nothing paradoxical about aesthetics.

        The presence or absence of paradox in works of art may be an
        unconscious source of misunderstanding when viewing art from
        another culture.

   f.  Ecological Variety:

        Biological systems exhibit a wide range of solutions in solving
        basic survival problems such as food, shelter and reproduction.

        "Survival of the fittest" is not an absolute term. Different
        environments will demand different optimal solutions for basic
        survival strategies. Even "inefficient" solutions may prove useful
        if they allow for adaptability in changing circumstances which may
        prove fatal for over-specialized "optimal" solutions.

   g.  Biological Dialectics:

        Specific biological species may be considered as representing
        different Aesthetic Points within dialectical spaces such as
        Individual-Group, Static-Mobile, Aggressive-Passive, Nocturnal-
        Diurnal, Specialist-Generalist etc..

        This may be of theoretical interest. Of more practical value to the
        species involved is the fact that an ecological system in itself
        would appear to be an aesthetic point of balance in a game of
        mutual intervention in the process of self-destruction. Simply
        put: Rabbits without Wolves would over-populate and die of lack
        of grass and Wolves without Rabbits would be forced into cannibalism.
        Each species modifies its own environment in a way which would
        eventually prove fatal if other species did not intervene and
        redress the balance.

        Perhaps most important is the apparent creative dialectic between
        the decomposing and dispersing of (Entropic) inorganic systems and
        the organization of energy and material demonstrated by
        organic systems. In this context, the ecology of inter-stellar
        interactions and the creation of new material in space may require
        a reconsideration of the definition of the term "Organic System".

   h.  The Dialectics of Theory and Practice:

        Events in the real world take place in Physical Space around us
        but are interpreted (and often initiated) in terms of the Conceptual
        Space created by ourselves in our minds.

        It is difficult to prove conclusively that the model of the world
        in our minds is a satisfactory representation of the world around
        us. The world does not always behave as we believe it should.

        In theory, Theory and Practice should support each other, but in
        practice they often appear in conflict. If a Theory about the world
        is in agreement with simple observation of the world we can ask
        what is the value of the Theory if it is merely an academic
        confirmation of that which we already know. A good Theory must offer
        new insights into the world around us but the more radical these
        insights are the more chance the Theory has of being rejected
        because it appears 'unrealistic'. "Realistic" and "Unrealistic" may
        be considered as parameters of a Dialectic Axiom which requires an
        Aesthetic choice to resolve the conflict.

   i.  The One-Way Mirror:

        It is easier to prove or disprove the ability of an existing model
        (Theory) to predict a given set of events than it is to use a set of
        observed events to generate a conceptual model (Theory) which will
        explain them.

    j. The Ecology of The Mind:

        Our perception of the basic characteristics of the world around us
        seems to vary according to the conceptual context in which they are
        placed and the medium in which they are transmitted.

        The same tree will appear very different when described by an artist
        a biologist or a carpenter. The tree does not seem to express a
        preference as to which view is correct.

        Modern practical astronomy is primarily concerned with correlations
        between data gathered from instruments sensitive to different areas
        of the electro-magnetic spectrum (i.e radio waves, infra red and
        visible light). If artificial sensory organs are so essential to an
        understanding of extra-terrestrial structures -how restrictive then
        are the limits of human senses in understanding the world around us?

        The Aesthetic choice between Human and Artificial may have important
        consequences for our view of the world and therefore our actions in

   k.  The Ecology of Energy and Information:

        Information is the difference that makes the difference; i.e. the
        recognition of significance in a changed situation which in turn
        leads to a modification of behaviour in the observer. Information
        is modulated energy which also modulates energy flow.

        Energy is the assumed prime mover of all things. Money is an
        artificial form of stored energy. We must learn that economy is not
        about money but is essentially concerned with the ecology of energy
        flow. Knowledge and Information are essentially tools for energy
        conservation. A true economy will take account of all forms of
        conserved and active energy. It will also be concerned with the
        dynamics of energy flow in a closed system, of action and reaction,
        of distribution and growth and will realize that an unbalanced
        accumulation has more disadvantages than advantages.

   l.  The Art of Science and The Science of Art:

        Existing Models can be scientifically tested but (with the possible
        exception of mathematical logic) there are no scientific ways to
        generate new models. Scientific models must be created outside of
        the scientific process through the intuition of the scientist.

        The artistic process does involve the construction of algorithms
        to generate new models of the world but the scientific testing of
        these models is not part of the artistic process. Artistic models
        are created within the artistic process entirely as result of the
        creative strategy of the artist.

   m.  The Artistic Process:

        The task of the artist is to create and explore systems of logic
        based on aesthetic equilibria in multi-dimensional perceptual and
        conceptual space. Although initially divorced from practical reality
        the resulting Aesthetic Models enrich the Ecology of the Cultural
        Tradition and enlarge its adaptability to a changing environment.

        Although dependant on the artists own aesthetic preferences the
        creative strategy primarily involves exploring the changes in value-
        systems (i.e. systems of relationships within the artistic object
        and between the object and the observer) as a result of changes in
        conceptual context and physical medium.

   n.  The Frozen Choice:

        Normally aesthetic choices must be made within a static medium.
        Although it is true that music, ballet, theatre, film and video
        exhibit movement and development in time they are essentially
        fixed in structure. Each performance will be more or less similar
        to previous performances.

   o.  The Dynamic Computer:

        The computer is a dynamic rule interpretation machine. Essentially
        the program is an ecology of processes modifying and modified by
        abstract data stored in the memory.

        The relationship between data and process (the value and
        interpretation system) can be freely determined by the programmer
        who is free to explore the result.

        The visual and conceptual consequences of basic aesthetic choices
        regarding constancy and change, binding and freedom, predetermined
        and random relationships can be explored and made explicit.

        The result are universa of constantly changing images bound by the
        limits of the program. Studies in the limits of variation within a
        basic structure and studies of the interaction between variations in
        the basic principles of organization. Practical demonstrations of
        the ecology of variation required to avoid simple repetitive images.

   p.  The Future?:

        Perhaps it will be possible to formalize the creative process
        enough to be able to prove how essential an ecology of conceptual
        diversity based on different aesthetic choices is to a viable and
        creative society capable of responding successfully to changing
        circumstances largely created by its own need to survive.

        At that point we will understand what we have Unified with our
        Theory and what it is a Theory of.

        In the meantime we can only hope that in our search for Unity in
        our Diversity that we are wise enough preserve Diversity in our
        Unity. Our survival may depend on it.

                                                        T.E. Batten
                                                  Amsterdam, February 1994

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