[NetBehaviour] Very Large Works exhibition opening

Max Herman maxnmherman at hotmail.com
Sat Nov 2 02:23:21 CET 2019

I have no personal expertise in physics, for what it's worth, and Smolin might be totally wrong, but his argument is a fascinating one: i.e., that the focus of the last 20 years on quantum mechanics and finding smaller and smaller particles has come to a standstill precisely because it views time as not real.  Smolin has the strange hypothesis that time is the fundamental reality out of which all other reality, like quantum mechanics, emerges.  Time is the gluten that allows the loaf of bread that is universe to expand and accordingly for all its contents to exist and evolve.

Part of Smolin's reasoning goes that the set of possible relationships among things, sometimes called "the wave function ensemble," is actually the reality of the thing.  These ensembles are not really objects, nor are they entirely static, but more like flowing evolving structures akin to geology, which only look fixed due to our close enmeshment in present time.  Smolin argues that the laws of physics do in fact change over time, and it seems there is some reasonable evidence for this.  He says this could explain why the large hadron collider recently did not find what it was expected to find, to the surprise and intrigue of physicists everywhere (or, one might add, why the Hubble constant has of late not proven to be constant.)  Smolin wrote a partly philosophical book about this evolution of laws through time with Roberto Unger (who as a lawyer focused a bit more on legal or cultural law), noting how time and the structures of complexity it makes possible may be the more accurate way to understand structures in general, across disciplines, as opposed to the "catalog of the properties of things" approach which has characterized some trends in western science.  Eastern and indigenous models of knowledge and cosmology, as well as many aspects of western art, science, and philosophy, point to this flowing of networks in time.  It is relevant to note that this flow in time may be analog at a fundamental level, which in turn may have implications such as Jacob Lurie's work on "equivalence" rather than "equality" in math.

Of course, Smolin acknowledges that we may need a whole new physics and math (which Leibniz may have been alluding to his in Monadology) to understand the strange reality he indicates, so proof or disproof may be gradual.  (Leibniz's interest, as one inventor, along with Newton, of western calculus, in the I Ching and eastern math should also be noted here.)

Smolin's accuracy or inaccuracy aside, regardless of whether it is pure fiction or strict fact, what might result if we consider the "relational revolution" Smolin recommends for physics as it might apply to art and literature, to aesthetic expression and communication?  He mentions other phenomena that actually operate much more like networks than we previously thought, even things like genes, proteins, chemicals, and the like.  The network neuroscience model of consciousness is also being established at a rapid rate, and even if wrong in some portions does not seem to be completely incorrect or proper to be dismissed in toto.

What if all reality as we know it, all phenomena that occur in space and time, are more like flowing network processes centered in time than objects?  This could intimate a change to every kind of mapping or conceptualization, and might even represent a truly new kind of thinking which, like the new thought of the Renaissance, paradoxically achieved both innovation and a rebirth of many old yet worthwhile ideas.  By this type of logic, all art and literature, past, present, and future, could be more perceptively viewed as swirling and flowing networks in time than as a collection or store of objects in a gridlike and infinite container or mega-stasis.

All this may be nonsense talk, I admit.  Lord knows I have found a personal aptitude and affinity for such elaborate hoax, masking, play, mischance, and foolishness.  However it seems interesting to consider the networks-in-time perspective, if only as a sporting transposition, one easily allowed to dissolve, we might add, into a wholly or nearly so insubstantial fugue or fume, in something like the VLW context since that is what it actually is, in direct fact: a network of works on the network, all happening in time, with indeterminate and certainly at least partial invisibility of eventual form.

In Six Memos for the Next Millennium Italo Calvino spends a lot of time writing about the idea of the "very large" in numerous works from his perspective within western literature.  These are novels or epics which attempt to describe or include "everything," either everything out there, everything about something, everything that is possible, everything in a set, every detail in a picture, and so forth.

In "Multiplicity" Calvino states as his subject "the contemporary novel as an encyclopedia, as a method of knowledge, and above all as a network of connections between the events, the people, and the things of this world."  (Calvino suggests here and elsewhere that he invented or helped invent the term "hypernovel" as well as "hypertext," which formed a part of our own contemporary html and http, elements of the network on which the VLW and this email occurs to an extent.)  Calvino mentions the fiction of Musil, Proust, as well as Lucretius and Ovid as trying to include everything, or understand everything, but with the understanding that there is always "something missing," some necessary gap between the map and the reality (this gap could of course be time), something ever-changing or ever in flux.  Smolin, who often cites the need for physics to partake more of art and philosophy, echoes this concept of flux or change in the headnote of Time Reborn, quoting Anaximander's On Nature: "All things originate from one another, and vanish into one another from necessity... in conformity with the order of time."

Calvino writes of Goethe's plan to "write a novel about the universe;" of Mallarme's "Absolute Book," and Flaubert's Bouvard and Pecuchet, a "book about nothing" which also became the impossible "book that includes everything."  Other works "comprehensive of the all" which "Multiplicity" discusses include Dante's Divine Comedy, Balzac's Comedie Humaine, Perec's Life, Directions for Use, Borges' Labyrinths of course, and all of these are juxtaposed with Valery's declaration that "I have sought, I am searching, I will search for what I call the Total Phenomenon, that is, the Totality of conscience, relations, conditions, possibilities, and impossibilities."

Of Bouvard and Pecuchet Calvino writes "There is a question as to how we should interpret this unfinished novel."  I do believe that this is an allusion, conscious or unconscious, to what can only be called the reality of time (or, if we wish, the unavoidable and inescapable reality-effect of counsciousness's fundamental basis in the illusion of time and the networks which can occur therein).  If there is such a thing as time, then what is left after a work ends?  Certainly not nothing.  If something, then what?  Does a consciousness outside of time, or outside the universe in Smolin's argument, really make as much sense as a complex consciousness within time and within the universe?  I think this is one part of the Very Large Question of VLW and it has something to do with time, and with network, or some better word for what those terms are used to express.

Happy November and day after Halloween to all!


From: NetBehaviour <netbehaviour-bounces at lists.netbehaviour.org> on behalf of Bjørn Magnhildøen via NetBehaviour <netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org>
Sent: Friday, November 1, 2019 5:25 PM
To: NetBehaviour for networked distributed creativity <netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org>
Cc: Bjørn Magnhildøen <noemata at gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [NetBehaviour] Very Large Works exhibition opening

physical laws offer no temporal orientation, including the statistical, probabilistic laws of thermodynamics. so that not only is there an overwhelming probability that the entropy of a physical system will be higher in what we call the future, but also the same probability that it was higher in the past. So if a system doesn't have the maximum possible entropy now, it's extraordinarily likely that it will later have _and_ previously had more entropy. since laws are blind to time, you get these symmetries.
resistance might be futile, but that's all we got, the living now, even if non-existent. We're not at the bottom of this. Things can be non-existent but real, something QM teaches us - the so-called wave function. what it describes is potential and virtual, something that doesn't exist but is so real that we can build computers on it. the nature of this we have no idea. I'm not surprised that theorists, like Lee Smolin, tries to fuse qm into classical, relativistic physics in a way to build a time-sensitive phenomenology out of it.
i think art also can be open to the 'non-existent but real' (without sounding completely mindblown :) at the other end of the sausage.


On Fri, Nov 1, 2019 at 9:56 PM Alan Sondheim via NetBehaviour <netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org<mailto:netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org>> wrote:
They run backward but they run into entropy, issues around the big bang etc.
And if art really offered resistance, wouldn't we be living in a far more benign world?
Art offers what just about anything else offers, and even 'art' as a totality is problematic?
For me, it's not the present moment, but the moment just before, or whatever's left in the moment just afterward.

On Fri, Nov 1, 2019 at 4:44 PM Bjørn Magnhildøen via NetBehaviour <netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org<mailto:netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org>> wrote:
Thanks for your response Max!
I think the quote has a good point about the status of time in physics, afaik. The standard laws of physics run backwards as well as forward in time, which is obviously wrong phenomenologically. Time somehow doesn't exist in physics. Rudolf Carnap recounts a conversation he had with Einstein on this subject: "Einstein said that the problem of the now worried him seriously. He explained that the experience of the now means something special for man, something essentially different from the past and the future, but that this important difference does not and cannot occur within physics. That this experience cannot be grasped by science seemed to him a matter of painful but inevitable resignation."
It's an interesting point, we're experientally annihilated by the physical laws we have discovered by experience.
Art offers resistance, body inertia, witness. I don't think we've seen the end of this! (I mean knowledge of the world)


On Fri, Nov 1, 2019 at 8:39 PM Max Herman <maxnmherman at hotmail.com<mailto:maxnmherman at hotmail.com>> wrote:

Thanks for sending this Bjorn!  Looking forward to seeing how the event evolves.

I've been reflecting on the below quote from Lee Smolin about physics and quantum theory lately. I wonder if it might relate to art and other fields as well?

"The relational revolution is already far along.  At the same time, it is clearly in crisis.  On some fronts, it's stuck.  Wherever it is in crisis, we find three kinds of questions under hot debate.  What is an individual?  How do novel kinds of systems and entities emerge?  How are we to usefully understand the universe as a whole?
The key to these puzzles is that neither individuals, systems, nor the universe as a whole can be thought of as things that simply are.  They are all compounded by processes that take place in time.  The missing element, without which we cannot answer these questions, is to see them as processes developing in time.  I will argue that to succeed, the relational revolution must embrace the notion of time and the present moment as a fundamental aspect of reality."

Time Reborn, p. xxix

From: NetBehaviour <netbehaviour-bounces at lists.netbehaviour.org<mailto:netbehaviour-bounces at lists.netbehaviour.org>> on behalf of Bjørn Magnhildøen via NetBehaviour <netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org<mailto:netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org>>
Sent: Friday, November 1, 2019 6:13 AM
To: netbehaviour <netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org<mailto:netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org>>
Cc: Bjørn Magnhildøen <noemata at gmail.com<mailto:noemata at gmail.com>>
Subject: [NetBehaviour] Very Large Works exhibition opening

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VERY LARGE WORKS is an online show organised by http://noemata.net/, containing a pavilion of https://thewrong.org/ new digital art biennale (Nov 2019 - Mar 2020) curated by Bjørn Magnhildøen and Zsolt Mesterhazy, and The Burrow, a secondary space curated by Aad Björkro (see below).

URL: http://verylarge.works/ and https://h.aard.work/

The exhibition contains platforms for open and collaborative works, in addition to individual works.

This mail's highlights:
--- The Cyborg Matrix is a virtual 3D environement where works can be added to the space. Some works from Very Large Works are already displaying in the space. Do you want to add you art to the space, head to https://thecyborgmatrix.org or send an email to cyborgMatrix at cyarco.com<mailto:cyborgMatrix at cyarco.com>. See you in cyberspace!
--- The White Page Gallery is a decentralized network of people dedicating a page on their own website to someone else's work and exhibition. In that sense it's a peer review curatorial network. Read more and join in at http://www.whitepagegallery.network/
--- 100000000 transparent pixels - Dominik Podsiadly - thanks to this artwork you become a cyber rich man because you have one hundred million transparent pixels. http://kolo-x.net/VLW/100000000.html
--- Do something until something stops you doing - Novi Otten Erytryalsilani - [Planting a single grain in the pavement]. https://vimeo.com/354910282 *******************************************

76 artists participate, including The Burrow (and with 43 more taking part in the discussions):

THE ALPHABET (Platform), Bruce Barber, Domenico Barra, Peter Basma-Lord, Lavoslava Bencic, Lawrence Bird, Johannes Birringer, Aad Björkro, Brad Brace, The Burrow (Platform), Samuel Brzeski, Chris Byrne, Christian Bøen (Termodress), Joana Chicau, Ludovic Coutinho, Cyborg Art Collective, Cyborg Matrix (Platform), Antonela Debiasi, Y.Divya Sri, #DUMPHAUS (Platform), Dave Evans, Luca Forcucci, Benna Gaean Maris, Edoardo Gaudieri, Ben Grosser, Gottfried Haider, Max Herman, James A. Hutchinson, Hypercollective Autobiography (Platform), ca_jaeger__at__protonmail.com<http://ca_jaeger__at__protonmail.com>, Karl Heinz Jeron, Cyrus LK, Nicole Kouts, Erica Lapadat-Janzen, Joseph Moore, Rubén Möller, Novi Otten Erytryalsilani, Karina Palosi, Dominik Podsiadly, Julian Priest, Stefanie Reling, Anthony Robinson, João Rocha, Letta Shtohryn, Chan SomethingStar, Alan Sondheim, The Sunderland Pavilion (Time tunnel), Daniel Temkin, Pall Thayer, Elle Thorkveld, Jurgen Trautwein, A.P. Vague, Catalina Vallejos, Angelika Vardalou, Stephanie Vella, The VteX Files (Platform), Roland Wegerer, Neale Willis, White Page Gallery (Platform).

>From The Burrow: Isabelle Arvers, Basel Embassy (Tunnel), Aad Björkro, Yu Cai, DISNOVATION.ORG<http://DISNOVATION.ORG>, Ursula Endlicher, Antje Feger & Benjamin F. Stumpf, Sophie Fields, Benna Gaean Maris, Fabian Heller, Garrett Lynch irl, Amelia Marzec and Abe Morrison, MEGALITH (Tunnel), Luis Mercado, Zsolt Mesterhazy, Joseph Moore, NETARTFORSTORAGE (Tunnel), Stefanie Reling, ronnie s, Ausín Sáinz, Pall Thayer, Jurgen Trautwein, Angelika Vardalou, Almond Yeggs.

Dearly thanks to all involved for the time and effort creating and discussing Very Large Works!

More info

Closed open call, and background: http://verylarge.works/call.html
Working sheet pad: https://bblab.space/p/r.296258e67102944e88438d5e2209ad7d
Discussion list: http://lists.noemata.net/listinfo.cgi/very_large_works-noemata.net
Contact: mail__at__noemata.net<http://mail__at__noemata.net>

Very Large Works is part of https://thewrong.org new digital art biennale

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