Order of Nature or Matrix of Man? Academy of Fine Arts, Helsinki

Order of Nature or Matrix of Man?

An international symposium at the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts.
Friday, October 15th, 2010

Auditorium, Finnish Academy of Fine Arts
Kaikukatu 4, 00530 Helsinki
Organized by Markus Rissanen

Images and visualizations are essential not only for contemporary art but also for modern science. In spite of amazing technological achievements of last few decades our culture still seems to prefer structures that have their roots in forms and shapes used by humans already since prehistoric ages. Where do these structures come from? How are they used today? What is the role of visual arts in images related to science? This symposium aims to bring together artists and researchers to share their views about these themes.


10.00 Introduction, Markus Rissanen: Squaring Circles and Cultivating Rhizomes

How do we humans choose shapes and forms we use? How much freedom of choice do we have when selecting (or inventing) forms? How much of visualizations are produced only by cultural conventions or is there some universal shapes available independent of human culture?
How humans have comprehended and interpreted nature and its laws thru geometry? How science and ’Philosophy of nature’ have used geometry and its shapes as tools for visualizations?
Are emotional experiences and expressive forms exclusive from geometrical visualizations of nature or can they coexist in the fields of science or art? Can we consider (geometric) forms and shapes as ‘images’?

11.00 Hannah Higgins: The Plastic Fantastic: Scalar Grids in Contemporary Art

Grids take characteristic forms in the hands of contemporary artists; these are fractal, taxonomic, and space-time. Of particular interest is the changed association of the grid from a modernist box to its recent association with nature, as seen in its fractal aspects, its use in sorting and differentiating many kinds of information and its use as a space-time constant. While these three grid forms appear disparate, they share the feature of scaling, meaning each grid form relies on the production of a modular element that is infinitely expandable according to a program of statistical irregularity. Grid scaling, by this account, is a means of linking the regular and the irregular, order and chaos, the universal and the unique, and the known and the unknown with a view toward an ever expanding universe. In contrast to the regularizing grids of artistic modernism as normally conceived, this lecture theorizes the scalar space-time grid form of the contemporary as illustrative of both a paradigm shift associated with the emergence of information architectures and a world popularly imagined as a network as well as an emerging sense of how neural networks function.

12.00 Lunch

13.00 Tarja Knuuttila: Modeling and the problem of scientific representation

The recent discussion on scientific representation has focused on models and their relationship to the real world. It has been assumed that models give us knowledge because they represent their supposed real world targets. However, here agreement among philosophers of science has tended to end as they have presented widely different views on how representation should be understood. Another problem has concerned the representational nature of modeling. In contrast to many other types of scientific representation the relationship of models to real world targets is often indirect, which is perhaps most conspicuous in the case of mathematical modeling. Instead of directly aiming to represent some real objects, processes or systems, mathematical modeling proceeds through the detour of depicting hypothetical, imaginary or ideal systems. This indirect representational nature of models serves to highlight their artificial and opportunistic characteristics: mathematical models are often based on cross-disciplinary computational templates, which are applied to various problems in widely different kinds of domains.

14.00 Christoph Fink: A practice, some examples, a position. An introduction to the Atlas of Movements and the body of a work.

Christoph Fink calls his journeys by various means, by bicycle, train, airplane or by foot, ‘movements’. During his travels, Fink almost continuously makes short notations, which he later incorporates in drawings, diagrams, sculptures, and tables. His work consists precisely of documenting the intermediate stages between ‘here’ and ‘there’ and all the impulses received by the traveler on his way. When Fink combines the different notes and routes in diagrams, time lines and maps, he creates a certain perspective on the world of his experiences. He switches between observation and spontaneous reactions of the body and the mind. He touches on things we all experience on our travels, but usually dismiss as minor details or even fail to notice at all.

15.00 João Francisco Figueira: The Colour of Image

In order to make sense of art Aby Warburg privileged the research on a broad array of fields and documents – religion, divination and prophecy, astrology, illustrated pamphlets. Against single, sovereign, determinations, he put forward remarkable rhizomes of cultural references. In order to make sense of the work of art that presents scientific imagery as one main inspiration of activity, I will draw on a large array of problems, fields and objects, ranging from the social history of colour, to painting by Bosch, fauvism, abstract and pop art, early photography by Talbot, textile design, fashion and illustration. I will approach this art in terms of ”images”; amalgams of heterogeneous matters, free and resilient to the intentions of their authors.

16.00 Open discussion

Moderator Jan Svenungsson

Henri Wegelius
Amanuenssi / amanuensis
Kuvataideakatemia / Finnish Academy of Fine Arts
Jatkotutkinto-osasto / Postgraduate department
Kaikukatu 4, FI-00530 Helsinki
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