Visions of Light

“As beings who see and analyze light, we recognize its importance in human existence and our perception of the world. Vision, the most highly developed of our senses, enlists much of the brain’s cognitive power to make sense of the flood of energy and information that reaches us through our eyes, a flood that also carries spiritual and aesthetic meaning. Even this does not fully define the power of light, for it has given humanity the means to escape the night and grow as a civilized species.”

So writes Sidney Perkowitz, in his article, Illuminating Light. This issue explores the nature of light and, in particular, the ‘visionary’ way it relates to science, quantum theory, myth, consciousness, poetry and art.

Artists Evelina Domnitch and Dmitry Gelfand create sensory immersion environments, which investigate light, perception and consciousness. In ‘visual articles’, Nina Sellars shows her work Lucida, an autonomous image-making machine and Chris Wood explores the aesthetic potential of light and glass.

We look at James Turrell’s Visions of Light and his relationship to ‘experiencing the sky’ in When Light is Lost, Life is Lost.

J.M. Wingfield draws his inspiration from the fields of quantum theory, relative physics and cosmology, the author invites the reader to explore, through a poetic view, ideas and images as revealed through advances in theoretical science.

In The Light of Consciousness, Peter Russell explores the personal, spiritual aspect of light and asks ‘Does physical reality and the reality of the mind share common ground in light?’

Further explorations of ‘visionary’ approaches to light in art and science are provided by blogs on Tarkovsky’s Polaroids; Optogenetics; the double-slit experiment and Frederic Bonpapa’s film ‘Light Motif’.

Plus there’s a video of the greatest cinematographers and ‘Light Talks’ by Olafur Eliasson, Harald Haas, Ed Boyden, Ramesh Raskar and Rogier van der Heide.

“Light is a powerful substance. We have a primal connection to it.” James Turrell

Also this month, we’re excited to announce Wigner’s friends, a new project by artist, Diemut Strebe in collaboration with ESA and the Italian astronaut, Samantha Cristoforetti. Wigner’s friends will be creating a universal show of all possible works of art. The Interalia Magazine will be following the project with great interest and will be featuring articles on its future progress.

Contemplating Inner and Outer Space

“Outside and inside form a dialectic of division, the obvious geometry of which binds us as soon as we bring it into play in metaphorical domains. It has the sharpness of the dialectics of yes and no, which decides everything.”

The Poetics of Space, Gaston Bachelard

According to the French philosopher Gaston Bachelard, inside and outside form a dialectics of division; hostile in their opposition and polarized in their attributes.  Yet, despite their mutual resistance, Bachelard argues that both inside and outside depend upon one another for the sake of preserving their identities and that an aesthetic experience and “escapades of imagination” prompts a revision of the boundaries of inside and outside.

From our own consciousness to the environment we inhabit, what is the relationship between the inner and outer world? This issue begins an exploration of the blurred line between the inner and outer.

As an artist and pioneer of computer visualisations of four-dimensional geometry, Tony Robbin‘s work has provided a useful insight into four-dimensional and quasi-crystal space. Together with ‘visual articles’ by Julian Voss-Andreae, Greg Dunn and Marc Yankus, they explore the interaction of art and science in revealing insights between inner and outer space. Michael Benson discusses images of space through time in an article about his new book Cosmigraphics.

B Alan Wallace, Marianne Rankin and Michael Falzoni explore the personal, spiritual aspect of space and consciousness.

In Inner Space Outer Space, artist Liliane Lijn speaks with 12 scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and at the Space Sciences Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley, where she was Artist in Residence in 2005 as part of an ACE, NASA, Leonardo Network International Fellowship.

Further explorations are provided by blogs on Andy Warhol’s landmark film ‘Inner and Outer Space’, the Dance Theatre Out Innerspace‘s performance of ‘Vessel’, Joseph Campbell’s book ‘The Inner Reaches of Outer Space’ and Edia, a cosmology of digital space by Willy Le Maitre

Ecocide: Arts, Resistance and Social Change

If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted, paleoclimate evidence and ongoing climate change suggest that CO2 will need to be reduced… to at most 350 ppm.” – Dr. James Hansen, NASA climate scientist

Today CO2 registers at 400 parts per million in our atmosphere, and industrial civilisation contributes another 2 ppm annually – dangerously high levels that risk triggering irreversible climate change impacts. (http://350.org/about/science/ ) Simultaneously, ecocide is endemic across our planet; the UN Environment Programme estimates 150-200 species go extinct every year.  And scientists suggest we have 10 years to secure a viable future for biodiversity and our children.

This issue highlights a variety of artistic responses.  Internationally acclaimed artists Ackroyd & Harvey explain how their work often evolves through collaborations with scientists. Melissa Tuckey discusses socially engaged poetry in the US; plus I explore David Cooper’s surrealist painting; ecologically engaged British theatre; and through my poem ‘Earth Justice’, the mock ecocide trial held at London’s Supreme Court in 2011, initiated by Polly Higgins (http://eradicatingecocide.com/ ).

Ineffective government action and the unchecked power of corporations to continue their devastating search for fossil fuels and minerals inevitably add a political dimension.  This issue features art activism responding to a range of environmental issues; and I review ‘Disobedient Objects’, an exhibition of ‘tools of social change’ at London’s V&A.

“Whatever you love, it is under assault.  But love is a verb.  We have to let that love call us to action. That isn’t what love demands; that is what love is.”  Lierre Keith

Liberal environmentalists traditionally rely on education to initiate social change, but radical thinkers such as Lierre Keith challenge this approach.  So what are the alternatives?  How have other movements been successful in the past?

In addition, Maddy Harland, editor of Permaculture Magazine, uncovers contemporary heresies that require transformation; and Dr. Jamie Vishwam Heckert talks about the inner freedom he’s discovering to tackle structures of domination.

Transformation. Transmutation

Transformation

Noun: A marked change in form, nature, or appearance.

Transmutation

Noun: the action of changing or the state of being changed into another form.

The changing of Bodies into Light, and Light into Bodies, is very conformable to the Course of Nature, which seems delighted with Transmutations.

Sir Isaac Newton – Opticks, 2nd edition (1718), Book 3

Only by discovering alchemy have I clearly understood that the Unconscious is a process and that ego’s rapports with the unconscious and his contents initiate an evolution, more precisely a real metamorphoses of the psyche.

Carl Gustav Jung – Memories, Dreams, Reflections.

The fact is that given the challenges we face, education doesn’t need to be reformed — it needs to be transformed. The key to this transformation is not to standardize education, but to personalize it, to build achievement on discovering the individual talents of each child, to put students in an environment where they want to learn and where they can naturally discover their true passions.”

Ken Robinson – The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything

 

How does the ‘alchemic’ process relate to the theory of consciousness? What is the relevance of alchemy as a metaphor in the modern world? How can creativity be encouraged? This issue looks at the idea of transformation in many ways – from the relationship between the mind and body, to structure and variation in pattern, as well as the relationship between time and space in quantum theory.

Featuring artists exploring the work of physicists, physicists studying the artistic process, this issue explores ideas that cross the boundary between art and science.

Plus, with Sir Ken Robinson, an internationally recognized leader in the development of creativity, innovation and human resources in education and in business, we explore the need for creative transformation in education and how to discover our ‘Element’.

Poised at the Edge

“Beyond the edge of the world there’s a space where emptiness and substance neatly overlap, where past and future form a continuous, endless loop. And, hovering about, there are signs no one has ever read, chords no one has ever heard.”

Haruki Murakami: Kafka on the Shore

“All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man’s life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom.”

Albert Einstein: Out of My Later Years – The Scientist, Philosopher, and Man Portrayed Through His Own Words [Moral Decay (first published 1937)]

Science, art, and religion can be seen as having in common humanity’s need to explore, describe, and attempt to explain its place in the world and the universe.

This issue explores pioneering ideas and their implications and engagements within the context of future art, science and religion.

Is there a ‘Poised Realm’ between the Quantum and Classical Worlds? How is this realm related to consciousness? Is the universe a gigantic quantum computer? Are we at an important point in our history in terms of how we understand complexity and information in terms of theology? Can there be a dialogue between opposites? How can we promote new ways of perceiving the land and our relationship to it in the 21st century?

And, what can these questions tell us about the future relationship between art, science and consciousness?

Convergent Territories

A Clash of Culture is not a Disaster, it is an Opportunity (Alfred North Whitehead)

Dialogue can be considered as a free flow of meaning between people in communication, in the sense of a stream that flows between banks. It may turn out that such a form of free exchange of ideas and information is of fundamental relevance for transforming culture and freeing it of destructive misinformation, so that creativity can be liberated. (David Bohm, 1990)

I think it’s very strange that ‘knowledge’ has been divided up in to disciplines where there’s really a continuum between things, and people have diverse ways of understanding (Anna Dumitriu, 2014)

Art/Science collaborations abound. The emergence of Sci/Art initiatives is growing, becoming common-place. Dialogue and collaboration between the arts and sciences has provided the potential to create new knowledge, ideas and processes beneficial to both fields. Artists and scientists approach creativity, exploration and research in different ways and from different perspectives, but when working together there is the opportunity to open up new ways of seeing, experiencing and interpreting the world around us.

How and why do artists engage with science? Why are scientists interested in collaborating with artists? What are the mutual benefits? What new forms of public access are created when scientists open their laboratories to artists? What can a designer learn from consulting a biologist? The more you look, the more you realize that the lines between disciplines have blurred.

A recent white paper emanating from MIT argues that the intersections of arrays of scientists (from many disciplinary areas) will be the next Kuhnian scientific revolution, a revolution broadly known as Convergence. Nobel Laureate Phillip Sharp, one of the authors of the MIT white paper, has noted: “Convergence is a broad rethinking of how all scientific research can be conducted, so that we capitalize on a range of knowledge bases, from microbiology to computer science to engineering design. It entails collaboration among research groups but, more deeply, the integration of disciplinary approaches that were originally viewed as separate and distinct. This merging of technologies, processes, and devices into a unified whole will create new pathways and opportunities for scientific and technological advancement.”

Are we in the beginning of a  ‘Convergence Revolution’? And how does this apply to both the Arts and Sciences. 

In this issue, we begin the first of a what will be a continuing exploration of the connections, both theoretical and practical, between disciplines, and its implications and engagements within the context of art, science, philosophy, culture and cultures.

 

Complexity, Emergence and Information

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” – Confucius

“Life emerged, I suggest, not simple, but complex and whole, and has remained complex and whole ever since” – Stuart Kauffman: At Home in the Universe.

“If our brains were simple enough for us to understand them, we’d be so simple that we couldn’t.” – Ian Stewart: The Collapse of Chaos: Discovering Simplicity in a Complex World

Is the world simple or complex? Ask particle physicists and they will probably try to persuade you that the world is simple and governed by the Laws of Nature or by a single Theory of Everything. Ask a biologist, an economist a social scientist or an artist and they will tell you quite the opposite: the world is a collection of complexity and chaos. So who is right? Or is that the wrong question? Is it actually more complicated than that?

New scientific perspectives on complex systems, emergence and information have taken on wider philosophical and ‘religious’ implications. This issue explores these implications and engagements within the context of science, art and theology.

What is complexity and how does it emerge? Is there a hierarchy of complexity? Is information more fundamental than particles and can it be given objective meaning? How are artists engaging with the complex? Are we at an important point in our history in terms of how we understand complexity and information? What do these answers tell us about the nature of art, science and consciousness?

Celebrating the Imagination

The French philosopher, Gaston Bachelard wrote ‘Man is an Imagining Being’, but what do we imagine we are talking about when we speak of the imagination? Or, to put it another way, can we imagine the imagination? Where do our ideas about the imagination come from? How do brains imagine? How are consciousness and imagination related? How many ‘types’ of imagination are there? And can the imagination be ‘educated?

These are just some of the questions that are explored in the Interalia Magazine’s first issue, ‘Celebrating the Imagination’.

Modern ideas about the imagination were powerfully shaped during the Romantic Era in 19th century Europe. Romantic poets, scientists and philosophers conceived of the imagination as a primary force behind the production of knowledge of all kinds, fiercely debating about the nature of the imagination, how it worked, and why its prodigious creative potential might endanger the rationality and precision of the scientific method. Have those ideas changed and what does the future hold for the imagination?

As the author, Lindsay Clarke, has stated –

‘The imagination is an instrument of liberation, one to which we all have access and which serves to celebrate and enlarge our common humanity.’

This issue is only the beginning of the exploration, we can imagine there will be many more.