Kick-off ideas for 2012 by Louis Bec
Following the 2007 event, the situation in the world has changed considerably.
MutaMorphosis II should therefore be contextualised in a world undergoing a complete mutation, jolting at all its points of articulation, whether political, economic, diplomatic, geographic, ecological, technological or communicative.
It is also a world whose hierarchies are being shaken, whose disparate social organisations are being disrupted, a multicultural, hybrid, young, active and communicative world representing 7 billion human beings.
It is also a world of handicaps, misery, hunger, and endemic diseases, a world fraught with merciless migrations of people pushed toward more favourable environments.
In this state of imbalance, of “deconstruction” and crisis, the most serious risks lie both in the choice of methods and analytical tools and in a misunderstanding of the origins of the crises, their causes, their consequences and their long-term effects.
MutaMorphosis II thus proposes to “play the role” of a probe furnished with a panoply of configurable tools.
It thus proposes not only to carry out observations, exchanges and analyses in connection with contemporary developments, but also to produce and present concrete experiments, to provide support for innovative collaborations and co-productions, associating groups of researchers from various disciplines so as to be in a better position to capture certain forms of the hybridisation of “cultures, knowledge and different forms of expression” and to understand present-day mutations.
It also aims to play the role of an explorer, that of a promoter and that of a producer of innovative experiences. Experiences making new leads emerge, they open up unexplored territories, use the most advanced means of technological expression in order to overrun obsolete barriers or redundant artistic practises.
It aims to show that projects which link certain domains of scientific, artistic and technological research are absolutely necessary as indispensable tools for exploring a world which is increasingly fuzzy, unstable and chaotic, inscribed in a fascinating complexity where modelling and simulation have become the real tools of knowledge and expression.
That is why MutaMorphosis II presents itself not only as a tool for observation and ascertainment, for recording and analysing, but even more so as an effective strategic tool, an exploratory module of concepts and projects which roams the fields of knowledge, revealing and constituting the “interactive” territories of tomorrow, bearing forms of potential expression.
In order to better understand and analyse these mutations, MutaMorphosis II should therefore be a polymorphous tool-witness, able to analyse crises and all other phenomena as important stakes or as triggers, able to accompany the deep movements running through and rattling contemporary societies.
It should also be on the lookout for unusual and perhaps unmannerly bifurcations, for “mutamorphous”, artistic and technological hybridisations.
Most of all, it should be able to analyse the role of “attractors” that modulate and influence the cultural and social landscape, that enrich the most advanced forms of scientific and technological expression and knowledge.
Crisis results from a subjection to “critique”. All crises generate degrees of opposition and economic, political and cultural instability. They aim to question the validity of imposed norms, creating a climate of moral, conceptual, artistic and political contention. They also possess the insidious capability of masking the transformations that profoundly modify fragmented or even dissipated societies. Their capacities for destabilisation also lie in their aptitude for creating states of tension, which, if allowed to accumulate, can benefit explosive forms of action and demands.
Disapproval and contention are also motors of crisis.
The act of refuting every “imposed” system provokes contentious forms of expression. This substrate, which might be “destabilising”, engenders individual and collective creativity, a questioning of concepts, artistic, epistemological and political positions. It can also bring about the advent of unexpected, contentious, impertinent and inventive forms of individual and collective expression.
The example of the use of means of communication by social networks within the framework of the liberation certain Arab countries are a convincing example. Thus, every crisis can be considered as a substrate carrying the potential for creativity and modification. It can express itself by means of contentious, deviant or deferred forms, establish new communication strategies that overrun any latent interdictions and reveal new spaces for expression.
UNCERTAINTY AND FUZZINESS
In his book La fin des certitudes [The End of Certainty], Ilya Prigogine asserted that we are undergoing a radical change. Nature, in the thrall of deterministic laws, is giving way to a probabilistic nature. This uncertainty results from processes of fragmentation and recomposition, from contradictory logical systems as well as the failure of progress and the illusions of change they entailed.
On the other hand, the boundaries that limit domains are artificial. A part of the world based on separability is dissolving into permanence. The limits are particular cases that are a state between two states they separate.
Examples abound on fuzzy boundaries, between apparently well-defined limits. The exploration of fuzzy boundaries makes it possible to rethink the contents themselves of different states and their interactions or intra-actions. Instrumental and conceptual forms of progress are constantly pushing back the limits of the observable universe.
The frontiers are elusive: those separating the parts of the solar system, inert or living viruses, obsolete distinctions between animals and plants, species between stability and evolution, man and ape, different degrees of consciousness, classical and quantum physics, unstable forms of matter, nanoworlds and neural networks.
The fuzzy boundaries therefore force us to renounce the classical principles according to which a proposition is said to be true or false. These fuzzy environments are rich in information and tend toward paradoxes. The principle of bivalence must be abandoned in favour of degrees of truth. Vagueness is not due to the imprecision of our concepts but rather to our ignorance as regards their extent – certain states are neither totally solid nor totally liquid and certain artistic works have already been blurring classification schemes for a long time.
The emergence of the concept of “complexity” is probably one of the essential consequences of the great mutations we have seen over the last fifty years. The fact that we can understand the mechanisms underlying a certain number of phenomena is becoming essential for the understanding of mutations and for the exploration of future forms of cultural evolution.
Complex systems have become the real operators in an alternative world which is emerging and providing tools for configurable predictability. The sciences of complexity, considered “the science of the 21st century”, are revealing that complex systems are omnipresent, that they articulate themselves around laws which can be applied practically in all domains of everyday life and, notably, those which characterise contemporary periods. They are becoming highly urgent deciphering tools and are required at all levels of knowledge, prediction, decision-making and action, necessary for the management of the planet and its inhabitants.
In addition, by displacing the prediction paradigm toward a prediction of the evolution of its probability, by predicting what might come about instead of imposing the deterministic certainty of a foreordained future, the sciences of complexity have opened up an effective new path for close, essential collaboration with experimental artistic activities which have themselves also plunged into the instability of exploring and constructing possible worlds.
Every approach in which combinatory modelling, simulation and optimisation constitute the predominant scientific instruments is also becoming an instrument for finding correspondences with experimental artistic and technological activities that are already engaged in a transdisciplinary multiplicity.
The relationships between Art and Cognition also represent important stakes in the comprehension of man’s creative capabilities. The passage from the state of an “inspired creator” to the functional study of a “brain” decoded by state-of-the-art images and technologies is opening up a new era in which scientific advances are coming face to face with the symbolic forms produced by a materialised brain inscribed in the physiology of a living body.
This pilot study also remains open to other important fields such as Ecology, Biodiversity, Handicap, Critical Artistic Pedagogy, etc.
“The present crisis is proof that the post-Cold-War period is over. Now a new order must be built to go beyond the multipolar framework”.
With this thought, the great Japanese thinker Jitsuro Terashdima gives a historical and future-oriented dimension to the present crises and invokes Ilya Prigogine’s principle of uncertainty, the theories of complexity, Art and the concepts of fuzziness, Interactivity and exploration of the body, “Brain Art”, etc.
About Louis Bec
Born 1936, lives and works in Sorgues (France). For several decades, Bec’s artistic work has revolved around the interlocking of art and science. He became known through his efforts related to extending biological evolution and simulating new life forms, emphasizing in particular how these ‹could› bring forth evolution. His search for new zoomorphic types and forms of communication between artificial and natural species led to his founding the Research Institute of Paranaturalistics in 1972. Bec was first introduced to artistic research on artificial life through his collaborating with the philosopher Vilém Flusser, who wrote about Bec’s Vampyroteuthis infernalis in his book of the same name. As a zoosystemician and researcher Bec describes artificial life from the angle of epistemology appealing to the methodological side of modeling, bioinformatics and technozoosemiotics. He conducted AL research in collaboration with the French National Science Centre (CNRS), the Laboratory of Photon Researches at the Strasbourg University (ENSPS/ARTCAPI), the Biology Laboratory at the University of Grenoble and others.
Publications: “Vampyroteuthis Infernalis” (with V.Flusser, Göttingen, 1988), “Elements D’Epistemologie Fabulatoire” (ed. by C.Langton, Santa Fe: 1990), “Elements D’Hypozoologie” (G.Pompidou Centre, Paris, 1993), “Esthetique Du Renfloue” (ed. by P.Weibel, Munich-Vienna, 1993), “La Vie Artificielle Comme Machination” (Ars Electronica, Linz, 1993), “Des Systemes Technozoologiques Comme Fabulation” (French Institute, Bilbao, 1996). Chief curator of “Le Vivant Et L’Artificiel” (Avignon 1984), Art/Cognition” (Aix en Provence 1992), “Emaitre” (Moscow-Genoa 1996-99) and “AVIGNONumeriqie / Les Mutalogues” (Avignon – the Cultural Capital of Europe, 2000).