Purpose: To provide illumination of how systems tend to produce an output nobody expected. It is in these moments that observers may learn something about their own expectations. Design/methodology/approach – The paper discusses two cases in the history of art: faked Vermeer paintings and a test Heinz von Foerster did in the art department at the University of Illinois. Findings: McLuhan’s notion of the “collide-oscope” is applied to the way Heinz von Foerster (ab)uses images in his own texts; furthermore it is applied to the way the BCL was organized. The formal structure of the “collide-oscope” offers a model of perception. Originality/value – Provides a discussion of a fundamental message of cybernetics – that we cannot escape collisions and disturbances. They are its essence. Relevance: This paper relates to the second-order cybernetics of Heinz von Foerster.
Scholars have described the sculptures of Linda Stein, limbless, classicizing, thick-waisted female forms that are often wearable, in the context of gender performativity and/or embodied subjectivity, informed by the sumptuousness of her materials, which invite a haptic or touch-centered response. To encompass the performative nature of her wearable sculpture used as a component of her political activism and her developing concept of the interrelationship between individual, society and environment, I propose a reading through the lens of systems theory, particularly the concept of open systems. Associated with life, growth, and change, open systems took on political and social resonance for artists like Stein maturing in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Historically coincident with the American women’s movement, the theorization of open systems in relation to society, biology and the environment was deployed by women artists in the early 1970s as an alternative means of conceiving social and environmental relationships. Relevance: I discuss the artist’s work through the theory of Gregory Bateson. In 1972, the anthropologist and cyberneticist argued that individuals, societies and ecosystems must be conceived integrally, as a complex, interrelated system. The notion of a self-sufficient, independent self is a fallacy in this model. According to Bateson, Mind itself expands to become “immanent in the larger system [of] man plus environment.”
Problem: This paper argues for the inclusion of a cybernetic-constructivist approach to the art of painting and for an understanding of principles that coincide with constructivism that operate within the creation of paintings and other works of art. It argues that an understanding of cybernetic-constructivist principles improves creative practice rather than merely analyzes outcomes. Method: Written from the point of view of a longtime practitioner rather than from the point of view of an academic proponent of art theory or art history, the paper draws on insights of second-order cyberneticians whose principles help to understand what a painting is and to determine its status as an object among objects which communicates itself simultaneously as not-an-object. These principles form an outlook as they become enfolded in sensibility, and through this outlook, the problem of being a painter can be addressed, the range of invention can be apprehended and broadened, and creativity can be mindfully activated. It addresses how painting and explained and how painting can co-create meaning with a viewer. Results: It is proposed that inquiry into painting may be of value in teaching us more about constructivism, as paintings provide stable, manifest and accessible physical outcomes of constructivist praxis, and that an application of cybernetic and constructivist principles to painting can advance the understanding of painting. Implications: Understandings of painting as well as other art forms can be better understood through including a broad cybernetic perspective in examining painting as a process and as a medium through which conversation takes place between observers, These understandings may have value in improving creative effectiveness among viewers and producers of art works. These understandings may have value for practitioners of other creative enterprises, and have potential to expand understandings in art history and art theory by emancipating it from being in service as a cultural emblem.
Context: Current theories of art, particularly those developed from a neuroscientific perspective, fail to take adequate account of the role, methods or motivations of the artist. The problem is that the lack of the artist’s voice in interdisciplinary theoretical research undermines the basis of current theoretical models. Problem: How can artists purposefully engage with contemporary consciousness studies? The aim of the research was to develop new methodologies appropriate for cross-disciplinary research and to establish what value, if any, neuroaesthetic or phenomenological theories of art could hold for contemporary arts practice. Method: My approach to the topic was to explore the application of neuroaesthetic and phenomenological theory through practice-based research in contemporary art. Results: The paper maps out a proposed avenue of research, and some initial findings, rather than the results of an inquiry. Implications: This paper will be of interest to those who work in philosophy of art and visual perception and those who are exploring empirically-based research methodologies in philosophy. Insights will be beneficial to arts practitioners, philosophers and scientists researching aesthetic experience. Constructivist content: The paper explores Noë’s sensorimotor theory of perception and the extended temporal relation between visual elements of an artwork as its forms are created in consciousness.
I characterize my approach to creative photography from a constructivist or postmodern perspective as “making art” as contrasted to “taking a picture of something.” I subsume this dimension under the superordinate dimension of constructivism and postmodernism contrasted with foundationalism and modernism, viewing creative photography as an appropriation of impressions and concepts to create an image that depends for its meaning on the viewer’s response rather than representing reality or inherent meaning. I also consider subordinate construct dimensions related to the creative process of making artistic photographs and include examples of images that illustrate these dimensions.
Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to describe the various movements from abstraction to actuality in the context of design, with particular reference to architecture, first in terms of the design process and second in terms of the interpretation of architecture by observers. Design/methodology/approach – The paper focuses on the designers’ use of forms of representation, such as drawings, with reference to the cybernetic understanding of conversation. This account is then used to discuss the representational properties of architecture itself and to relate this back to the design process. Findings: It is argued that the forms of representation used by designers, such as drawings and physical models, have both abstract and actual properties and that this combination is important for their representational function. The ambiguity in the interpretation of drawings and models is not only useful in generating ideas but also appropriate given the ambiguity in the interpretation of the architecture they represent. Originality/value – The division between the abstract (understood in terms of representation) and the actual is challenged. A connection is proposed between architecture itself as a form of representation and the representation used in its design. Relevance: This article extends and reflects on the analogy between cybernetic conversation and design in relation by understanding our experience of architecture as also a form of conversational exploration.