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  #1  
Old 04-29-2003, 09:45 PM
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fritchie fritchie is offline
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Lightbulb Ex nihila

Benny posted something in a Welcome Center forum yesterday which I think warrants a reply in a new thread. Here’s a start.

"In the beginning before the word, there was the mud." - Benny

Sorry I can't agree, Benny. “The word”, language, is the source of human creativity. People have known this instinctively since the beginning of time. A fairly recent theory about the explosion of human culture and human population some 60,000 years ago holds that a crucial genetic change gave a few humans access to language. Not necessarily spoken language, but access to mental processes which let them relate to the world as something to be changed. These people had such an advantage over their fellows they replaced them all.

In concept formation, “the word” or the act of naming is crucial. A name is the seed around which concepts grow. I have seen this in my thirty years of university teaching, and in my own life.

It is that unconscious recognition which led the writers of Genesis to equate Deity with “The Word”. “The Word” created mud and everything else, the universe, Black Holes, Dark Matter, humans, and all else.

Where do we go from here?
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Old 04-30-2003, 02:06 AM
benny benny is offline
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The word

Do you agree there are some conceptualizations that are beyond words? Are they then beyond God?
The evolution of language is itself a creative process, so I'm not sure which is the chicken and which the egg here. I always thought the very first creative act was to make a noise - which undeniably turned into language - but it also evolved into music.
Language has a reductive power unto itself that indeed makes it mightier than the sword,(and the guitar, and the canvas and the mud etc.) But perhaps that ability in effect causes a kind of creative impotence.
The historical advantage you speak of has it's down side. Self rationalising hegemonies have successfully carried out regime change 'by the book' and continue to wipe out less verbal creative cultures everywhere. This 'I can explain everything' superiority complex of the 'art' and 'craft'of text is a con best exemplified by the disconcerting objectives of our own mass media.
I spent just one year swimming in a sea of semiotics and literary theory, so I'm way behind you here but, I am more interested in that space beyond words than I am in what seemed to me at the time like an intellectual culdesac. Each to our own perspective. I'm still very interested in what everyone believes both inside and outside the academy.
The most heartening response I have ever had to my work came from a particle physicist... I was thrilled to be told that we had reached similar conclusions about the nature of creativity. He with theory and no practice - me with practical experience but no literal proof.

The WORLD
Without the WORD
Would simply be the letter L
Which unlike A or I
Is never a word at all
It's a Roman Numeral
And that (in so many words)
Counts for something
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  #3  
Old 04-30-2003, 11:19 PM
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Post Language and creativity

In ways you are far beyond me. I have never studied semiotics or literary theory, but did skim an article or so on semiotics years ago. (It seems much of my reading fits that description.) What I said comes from observation of my own learning processes, and from difficulties I have seen in students taking university chemistry for the first time - trying to come to terms with concepts such as “atom” or “wavefunction”.

First, many beginning students must be given a “Word” or “Name”, say “Atom”, and a very simple concept to go with it, such as “an atom is like a small sphere with mass”. Once this Word and primitive concept are in place, the concept can be elaborated, more with some students and less with others. This is what I mean by saying that the Word or Name is the seed around which concepts grow.

In my own experience, to give just one example, let me say that in University, math was my favorite subject and I took a class almost every semester just for the fun of it. Beyond the simplest courses, it’s a lot like listening to symphonic music, esthetically beautiful and mind-stretching. Seeing a proof of a large theorem can be a genuinely exhilarating experience, just as, say, seeing Michelangelo’s David or Moses for the first time.

Now, to one of your questions, “Do you agree there are some conceptualizations that are beyond words?” Absolutely, but if they have meaning, if they are self consistent and communicate in some deep way, they probably are not beyond language. There are many nonverbal languages. Math is one. I consider sculpture to be another. Complex music, such as symphonic, is another.

I have had the experience in my science research of producing concepts which were essentially mathematical, but which I had no way of expressing in mathematical terms, and then after a week or so of work, getting these concepts into algebraic form. Algebra is one of several mathematical languages. Geometry is another, and various others are Topology, Analysis, and so on.

As I worked my way through Analysis courses, I had the feeling, and remember expressing it this way to a painter friend at the time, that building up more complex analytical constructs was like building up a ball of yarn. You started with something small, and continued to wrap ideas around it as it grew.

I don’t want to compare myself with Einstein, but he is said to have visualized his relativity theory in pictorial terms, without words and even without mathematical form. He had to consult with acquaintances in order to learn a mathematical language, tensor theory, in which he could express relativity. Newton and Leibniz, of course, went further, actually and independently inventing the language of calculus to express prelinguistic concepts they had.

Enough about nonverbal languages. They certainly exist and are many.

On the subject of God, whom or which I labeled “The Deity” in an effort to be transcultural, there really is a conundrum with no firm solution. The “label”, and I impute no meaning beyond simple use of the term, designates something infinite and therefore beyond ordinary language or understanding. What I intended to say in regard to the beginning of the book Genesis is that I think the writers instinctively felt a connection between verbal language, The Word, and concept-formation, creativity, or God, similar to what I have described. Having no further way of expressing this feeling, they equated God with The Word.

You yourself are proof of the connection between verbal language and creative expression. Refusing to be either ‘artist” or “craftsperson”, you gave yourself more creative room by inventing the word “muddler”. I say Bravo! to this.

I hope others will chime in on this matter. It’s fundamental to what we do.
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  #4  
Old 05-02-2003, 03:24 AM
benny benny is offline
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Thanks Fritchie,
You practically knitted all the threads raised into a jumper - lets try it on. Anyone else interested in all this?
Words, names and the seed/meme around which concepts grow... the maths of it, the nature of space and infinity - This is all fundamental information for those who choose to work with form.
I have found much reassurance through physics, anthropology, buddhism and many other traditional sources of knowledge and now feel strongly that despite the present deconstructive era in art - truth, beauty and originality do still exist.
The symphony of the numbers is apparently true, beautiful and infinitely original!
Unfortunately I am truly dyslexic with numbers,(It's a left brain/right brain thing) but I've been reading books by people like David Bohm and Arthur M Young lately (who both knew Einstein). I just have to take the maths on trust and repect the fact that their numbers add up - because everything they say in simple terms makes perfect sense to me. (The calculations for the atom bomb were obviously correct - and Young invented the helicopter - so these guys really do know a thing or two about form!!) I advise all aspiring artists to study physics - even if they can't add up their own shopping list.
If you know the secret symphony of numbers Fritchie, maybe you could help me explain the relevance of Einsteins concept of ten actual dimensions. Apparently they've since found it might only be nine, but with due respect to Albert they left it at ten. So what's the dif in a dimension or two? (Well plenty when it comes to 2D or 3D art!)
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Old 05-02-2003, 09:59 PM
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Dimensions

I'll take your reply on a bit at a time. First, don’t worry too much if physicists currently say there are 9, 10, 12, or possibly some other number of dimensions in our universe. Those are all theories, and physicists love nothing better than playing games with math. Many of them are trying to find the minimum number of dimensions which will explain all available experimental evidence and hoping the theory they get will explain new evidence also. (A general rule for choosing among available theories is economy - the simplest explanation that gives correct answers is the best. Hence, the minimum number of dimensions.)

Since this is an art forum and not a science or physics forum, let’s concentrate on language. I brought up the math to show there are many forms of language besides “verbal’ - a catchall for ordinary spoken language. However, as a gag (and this is a very real and extremely valuable form of math), how about an infinite number of dimensions! Not to represent our physical universe, but as a working tool for calculations and for solving problems. That’s one of the fun things I found in mathematical analysis.
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  #6  
Old 05-03-2003, 09:33 AM
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Bernar Venet from April ArtinAmerica (Math)

I emailed Eric (new Community member) about his potential art/math interest. Thought you guys might have opinions since you're on that kick. Randy

Anyway, now that you give more info about your math/science inclination . . . perhaps you would be the right person to engage something I have had on my mind for month. Last month's Art in America had an interesting feature about Bernar Venet's 2d works, paintings mostly, and wall-works that show mathematical equations. Did you see it? I found it interesting, even though I don't know jack about the equations. I guess it started before I read the piece. I was on a plane and engaged in conversation with a freshman pre-med student from UT, and somehow we were talking about performance art, so I was flipping to the Abramovicz article, and he stopped me on the Venet thing because he recognized some of the equations from the class he had just finished. Anyway, when I eventually got around to reading the article, I found myself curious about the writer's contention that the function of the individual equations was unimportant to the works. He also contended that they were meant to symbolize the "unimpeachable, absolute" trueness of math. My impression from some reading I did about some math guys this past winter on <www.edge.org> gave me the impression that these complex equations and higher math in general, are not all that absolute, and that these mathmeticians use this language quite imaginatively and expressively even. I have been hoping to find someone who may want to engage this topic in more detail and share it on the Community or eventually elsewhere in print. I sort of hoped to engage the student from the plane, too, as an arts outsider and maybe his professor. ISC has some connections that might encourage Bernar to get in on the dialogue, too. I am intrigued, but unable to push ahead toward more clarity on my own. ???

Any thoughts,
Randy

Yes, if you talk to matheticians younger than 40ish- they are all into un-absolute mathematics. And even have gone so far to start the Sante Fe Institute along with Science of course

http://www.santafe.edu/

They focused on Chaos theory and found themselves breaking all the old rules. If you enjoy reading of science and math achievements- Horgan's End of Science had a good take on all this.

But how it relates to Venars' work- hmm? Being a little ignorant to his work- I would say that he- like the Minimalists- was interested in having his forms pre-established by a code other than his own. Judd used Fibonacci math and Bochner (former teacher of mine) was totally consumed by Number Theory and its applicable logic into anti-painting systems. Those 60's guys loved absolutes, but they were openminded enough to never claim the word "universal."

The critic didn't do their homework and probably was uniformed of math altogether.

FYI- I have written to math people at MIT and other schools and they answered back- without even knowing them. The love a good problem and you could ask them!

Hope that helped...
Eric
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  #7  
Old 05-04-2003, 07:58 PM
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thoughts and responses....

my comments are below


<<<In concept formation, “the word” or the act of naming is crucial. A name is the seed around which concepts grow. >>> (fritchie)


<<<Language has a reductive power unto itself that indeed makes it mightier than the sword,(and the guitar, and the canvas and the mud etc.) But perhaps that ability in effect causes a kind of creative impotence. >>>

<<<The most heartening response I have ever had to my work came from a particle physicist... I was thrilled to be told that we had reached similar conclusions about the nature of creativity. He with theory and no practice - me with practical experience but no literal proof. >>>
(benny)

<<<First, many beginning students must be given a “Word” or “Name”, say “Atom”, and a very simple concept to go with it, such as “an atom is like a small sphere with mass”. Once this Word and primitive concept are in place, the concept can be elaborated, more with some students and less with others. This is what I mean by saying that the Word or Name is the seed around which concepts grow.>>>

<<<As I worked my way through Analysis courses, I had the feeling, and remember expressing it this way to a painter friend at the time, that building up more complex analytical constructs was like building up a ball of yarn. You started with something small, and continued to wrap ideas around it as it grew.

I don’t want to compare myself with Einstein, but he is said to have visualized his relativity theory in pictorial terms, without words and even without mathematical form. He had to consult with acquaintances in order to learn a mathematical language, tensor theory, in which he could express relativity. Newton and Leibniz, of course, went further, actually and independently inventing the language of calculus to express prelinguistic concepts they had.>>>

(fritchie)

<<<The critic didn't do their homework and probably was uniformed of math altogether.>>>
(randy)



------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
i tend to agree with the opposite of the generation of ideas and entities. the problem with immediately denoting an entity before it comes to fruition, (conceptual or physical) is the lack of a working taxonomy by which we are inclined to govern these ideas. the pursuit of rendering the enitity "real," in varying terms, is always dependent on what is observable, or specifically--what is there.

***(issues with observability become muddled when considering the role of between the practitioner and instrumentalism is not pure--neither are initially, *there* especially when considering methods of instrumental observation; the practitioner, again, is not entirely *there* but reamins a ncessary evil and really only applicable when issues surrounding the role of the observer on a quantum level arise)***

we really cannot toss out the concept of something amazingly small and assign it an appropriate name, like "atom." knowing nothing about "atomic" nature, an obersver/practioner hasn't any ground by which to proceed. certainly, a myriad of inventions have allowed the practitioner to assume that this "atom" exists....after all, s/he can witness electiron ionization and other implied observations that say --"it is there."

remove, however, all aspects of that imstrumentation and the practitoner/observer is left with vague recollections of what renders "it," *there* all mathematical and algorithmic attempts at proof simply become afterthoughts and ultimately irrelevant.

so where does this leave the artist-as-practitoner/observer?

yes, this is an art forum but this is precisely why i steered away from going into formal studies of astrophysics in my first few years of college. in reality, what we know as "art" is the way that the sciences should be pursued. far too much detritus stands in the way of science to remain pure....industry, economics, egos and endless accolades to name a few. the creation of art is on the plane as i see the sciences....the taxonomy surrounding "what and why is it doing what it is doing" is completely unfettered in all of our work--formalists, figurative, whatever.....

the parameters by which we all create art, are for the taking....literally.....they do not exist until we dictate it.....again, the taxonomical and semiotical concerns become the secondary concerns of finding yourself in standing in front of some piece of art that holds you for a few moments that places you within the universe of any given piece.




an aside for randy or anyone else.....


if the critic is uninformed who does the responsibilty remain with....the artist or the spectator???

i've had countless discussions with everyone about this exact problem.








excellent thread everyone....
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  #8  
Old 05-04-2003, 09:54 PM
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Thumbs up Reply to Randy

This has gotten a little convoluted. I'll have to look into the A in A article, and get back. Probably a new thread, or several, may be in order. From my point of view, and probably taking your comment out of context, the only thing absolute about math is that it is a logical construction (or many), and should be internally consistent. Beyond that it is no more absolute than, say, a Beethoven symphony.

Math is like music and poetry this way - it’s purely creative, and no more or less real than a work in these other fields.
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Old 05-05-2003, 09:20 PM
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Reply to Randy, part 2

I’ve copied and looked at the A in A article, “Monochrome Math”. I’m tempted to be impolite about reviewers and about artist’s comments on their own work, but I won’t indulge here. Maybe I’ve done enough of that with my own pieces. Gordonrogers’ paraphrase of Duchamp, “The viewer completes the work”, comes to mind as appropriate. I’m afraid these works to me are more about color and orthography than anything else.

I will say, that for a second or two following my photocopying of these pages for later reading, I had a flash of other pictures in the issue, generally figurative, as made of symbols rather than of representations of the body. That means that I did perceive his images in a semiotic or symbolic way, for whatever that is worth.

Generally, after studying art, I see the world around me as more real, more colorful and full of form, and this perception typically persists for an hour or more. This feeling is one of the reasons I visit museums or galleries. Something about seeing another artist’s transcription of life is refreshing in this way. I’m curious about your view of the article and Venet’s work.
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Old 05-06-2003, 02:14 AM
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I thought someone else said that

Not someone other than Duchamp, someone other than me.


Maybe I was drunk

Maybe I am drunk
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Old 05-06-2003, 11:06 PM
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Duchamp quote

My apologies to both of you - it was parkartist. I should have checked first.
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Old 05-16-2003, 10:44 PM
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More on collaboration

Randy - I didn't mean to ignore the second part of your post of 05-03-2003 above, about delving into an article of some sort. I checked the registration list for eric and couldn't find him. I looked again today, and still don't. I just wanted to see more about his background and interests.

I apologize for not getting back on this sooner. I’m afraid I have a “thing” about commentators/writers on art - I think they limit perception more than aid it. However, sometimes they are essential, such as in magazines, where we wouldn’t see material otherwise.

I think the interesting part of my reaction to the article is in the statement “ I will say, that for a second or two following my photocopying of these pages for later reading, I had a flash of other pictures in the issue, generally figurative, as made of symbols rather than of representations of the body. That means that I did perceive his images in a semiotic or symbolic way, for whatever that is worth.”

I think this reaction means that both the writer and the artists actually are into something new. It’s been known for some time that the brain tackles auditory input of various types in different ways. For example, sounds representing language go to one area of the brain, music goes to another, and there may be other specialized categories also.

My reaction described above may mean that the same thing happens with visual input. That ordinary imagery is processed by some particular part of the brain, and obviously semiotic or symbolic imagery by another. Specifically linguistic imagery almost certainly has its own specialized pathway.

I think this is what both the writer and possibly the artist were saying, in their own language. I wasn’t familiar with Venet and have no idea what he has said about his own work; I’m simply inferring what he may have said from the article itself.

I would like to explore this issue with you more, either here or privately.

Last edited by fritchie : 05-16-2003 at 10:48 PM.
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  #13  
Old 05-29-2003, 04:21 PM
Georges Georges is offline
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There are no words to express ...

And Man created God in his own image. Is this discussion a coan, or what? Even though we know that humans have walked the Earth for less than a blink of Time's eye we still have the audacity to proclaim that everything originated with a Word.

Before the Beginning, (if you believe in a finite universe and overlook the paradox), there was Nothing. In the Beginning, there was Vibration and Pattern and Variance. Trillions of years later there was Word - and it was mostly unenlightened conjecture!

Nevertheless, it's good to have someone to talk to ...
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Old 05-29-2003, 05:32 PM
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Re: There are no words to express ...

Quote:
Originally posted by Georges
Nevertheless, it's good to have someone to talk to ...
Whatever the first word, the first one that made sense to me was 'sculpt!'

Forgive me, but what on earth is a 'coan'?
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Old 05-29-2003, 09:57 PM
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Beginning...

Georges, Would you take Energy, Mass and Identity in exchange for your triad? I have to agree, talking with this group is fun.
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Old 05-30-2003, 10:13 AM
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Araich - sorry "koan": a verbal madala - an unanswerable question used as a tool for meditation - "did Adam and Eve have bellybuttons?"

Fritchie - Vibration, in the "psycho-sexual" or "spiritual" sense I'm using it in, is not synonymous with Energy. Vibration is meta-energy if you will - a kind of Cosmic "White Noise". It has no measurable wavelength or frequency. Rather, it encompasses every actual or potential wavelength and frequency.

Variance is the "flaw" that acts as the prism that breaks Vibration up into distinct wavelengths and frequencies.

Pattern is the lens that focuses varied vibrations. When Pattern is tight and stable (repetitious) enough it is referred to as matter. Everything else is either energy or thought.

The concept of Identity requires a self-aware observer - to make distinctions. This is the "Man created God" part. This is the fountainhead of disperate conciousness. This is the virtual reality of existence that says "I am me - separate from the universe." This is where "All One" meets "Alone".

(now back to Sculpture and the Word) I, me, alone wish to tether myself to the rest of the universe. So, I touch, I eat, I crap, I speak, I sculpt ... I commune and I communicate. I bore people to death with useless yet verbose musings ...
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Old 05-30-2003, 09:27 PM
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Flip side and reduction

I was looking at the current scientific view, and chose Identity as an alternative to Quantum, the distinctness which characterizes bits, but Identity also covers the Observer, a prerequisite in current theory to avoid almost complete indeterminacy.

Going a little further, I might suggest a diad, Activity and Identity. Einstein showed that mass and energy are two sides of the same coin, and we now may see other sides such as dark mass and dark energy.

Activity would be the content of the universe: mass, energy, momentum, and unknown equivalents or combinations. Identity would be the state of organization: the aggregation of Activity into bits of matter or quanta of energy, plus this odd Observer who/which resolves ambiguity into clarity.
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