[NetBehaviour] Symposium on Dancing and Braiding - videos now available

Max Herman maxnmherman at hotmail.com
Mon Nov 18 17:02:36 CET 2019

Hi Alex,

These look very interesting.  The overall concept is, I think, correct and appropriate to how reality works and to the current transformation time of humanity on earth.

Fabrics, webs, weaving, and such concepts are much more accurate descriptions of real phenomena in time than the machine concept or the hierarchy concept (though the latter two may exist as elements or processes within the overall larger fabric).  For example, "systems chemistry" is about how you don't look at individual chemicals or 1:1 reactions to understand chemistry.  You look at the system, the environment, the big picture.  I only recently learned that this is a whole new theory for the origin of life via RNA/DNA, evolution itself starting as a braiding or a weaving process not a finished product as posited by the longstanding but now deemed incorrect "RNA world" model.  Only from a broadly productive, decentralized weaving environment with lots of experimentation can a system arrive at the creative solutions that have durability (like RNA and DNA).  I found the visuals of how the systems-chemistry model created life to be very illuminating.

Other examples are literally everywhere.  I think your event is very on target to include dance, the Greek chorus, and so on.  What was ancient Greece if not a fabric of many practices?  Architecture, song, ritual, dramaturgy, trade, myth, rhetoric, Hippocratic medicine, metallurgy, shipbuilding, all are interwoven threads of moving processes (like people with bodies moving the stones to build the temples to host the rites and the poetry, and so on).  Certainly neuroscience has moved fully to this network model.  In my opinion, this vast migration in concept for all spheres of knowledge and society, sometimes called "the relational revolution," does represent the new "art historical" as well as the new scientific era for the 21st century, and is a departure in many crucial ways from those of the 20th.  All TBD by peer review of course.  🙂

It will take some time for me to view the videos but will try to reply when I get the chance.

I did want to mention that I have recently had some thoughts about the Mona Lisa which might relate.  After visiting Florence and learning more about Leonardo's science and engineering work, including hydrology, I do believe that the painting is his magnum opus to articulate a network or relational theory of life, humanity, and the universe.  Paradoxically, it was the early phase of science and art, the dawn of modernity, that allowed him to integrate and interweave all the disciplines; an interweaving that has been progressively undone to a large extent as the the newly "reborn" arts and sciences became administered by economic and disciplinary routinization, professional interest, turf orthodoxies, and simple reductionism over the intervening centuries.

All that aside, and to finally get to some sort of point, I think the Mona Lisa's garments are very important.  The painting shows the evolution of the earth, in full time, from its inception as mere rock and water to the immediate present moment of human awareness.  It is therefore a map, architecture, and narrative of narratives, or in a sense a cosmology inclusive of the human.  Where others of his time emphasized machines of the day and objects (like skulls, globes, telescopes, etc.) to glamorize science, the ML includes only a small vague bridge in the distant background.  The left side of the background shows only stone and water, the original elements of the weaving.  These existed before RNA and DNA, but were their own fabric that made chemistry possible.  The flowing of water in "threads" and "media" made intermixing possible, and the intermixing of the products of intermixing, a progressively developing fabric of complexity.

Eventually this led to bacteria, plants, animals, etc.  However, ML shows none of these, not one iota, even though other paintings of the time did so in profusion.  I am certain he did this with intention, for very stark and imperative reasons.  On the right side of the background, we finally see some sign of life, but it is not plants or animals.  It is a bridge crossing a river.  The meaning of this is enormous.  There is no artistic virtuosity in the bridge; a child could easily copy it in crayon.  Hence the entire background is vague and non-virtuosic.  I read in a book about the Codex Leicester that Leonardo studied a lot of how water flows and creates braids or vortices in time, which take action on soil and hence on cities like Florence.  From basic knowledge of Leonardo's science of water and erosion we can perceive how the background illustrates time on earth.  Then we see the bridge, the only act of creation, life, or technology in the background.  (The foreground, aside from ML herself, includes only a fragment of a pillar's base, a wall, and part of a chair's arm.)

But here's the kicker, the bridge flows directly into the garment and forms a vortex that flows across the sitter's left shoulder, blending into her left sleeve where "turbulence waves" as drawn in the Codex result.  The bridge is a "woof" to the flowing of the river, and we know that very literally cities are fed and driven by their rivers, most concretely.  (There might be a building on the right too, not sure, or some kind of red domed entity like a terraced hillside perhaps?)

The above fabrics are of course the frame for the face, heart, and hands which are huge and virtuosic in contrast to the vague simple background; they almost overpower the virtuosic but very understated garments.  Do they deny or overpower or reject the garment and the cosmos?  No, I think Leonardo is proving they too are part of the fabric and creators as well as observers within it; culminations if you will of the vast fabric of evolution and complexity we see in the background.

How are the face, heart, and hands fabrics?  Well clearly, the hands are what create paintings.  They are very important, but I would argue that Leonardo is proving that the hands are only part of a fabric.  The greater fabric is something like the soul or consciousness, cognitive agency, lived experience, whatever the terminology, illustrated by the face.  The face and expression are extremely active, not passive.  We are examined by the face in a literal way.  Hence the process that it illustrates become inner to our own "fabric," the life and interconnected processes of the perceiver.  The face is a process that we actually live through.  It is asking us a simple question: do you get the fabric here?  Do you realize you are part of it?  Do you realize your role as a creator and observer?  This is an internal, meditative network of inputs, outputs, and processes (i.e. a cycle or braiding of active and resting cognitive states), similar to what Calvino discusses in Six Memos, and not a machine or hierarchy.  Each of us as individual living humans interacts with the painting at the most profound possible level, is at least my understanding and hypothesis of my own experience and Leonardo's intent.

This could all be wrong of course, but even if total fiction I can give myself permission to weave my understanding of the Mona Lisa, Da Vinci, art, science, humanity, consciousness, and the universe in this manner, at least for a brief episode, as an experiment or hypothesis if you will.

Best regards and thanks for the good event links,


From: NetBehaviour <netbehaviour-bounces at lists.netbehaviour.org> on behalf of Alex McLean <alex at slab.org>
Sent: Monday, November 18, 2019 4:18 AM
To: netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org <netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org>
Subject: [NetBehaviour] Symposium on Dancing and Braiding - videos now available

Dear netbehaviour,

I thought you might enjoy the videos from the AlgoMech symposium on
Dancing and Braiding. It includes perspectives on technology from the
point of view of textiles.

Here is the link to the videos, more info below.


Launching the third edition of AlgoMech Festival, this was an
interdisciplinary symposium bringing together perspectives from
digital media, choreography & dance technology, traditional Andean and
Ancient Greek textiles, e-textiles, philology, live coding and
architecture. Through talks, discussion and performance, contributors
to the symposium will consider their work in the context of
interlacing within and between textiles, e-textiles, pattern,
structure and movement, including dance. Interfaces between materials,
craft technologies, digital engineering, responsive systems, embodied
communications, threads, inter-weaving, intertwining, braiding and
building will provide a rich vein of dialogue, experimentation and
recent practice-led outcomes.

Sesssion 1 - Textile as interface (Chair: Victoria Mitchell)
Kate Sicchio - "Making movement pattern through language"
Berit Greinke - "Crafting holes in space with textiles"

Session 2 - In and Out of Weaving (Chair: Thea Pitman)
Sandra de Berduccy - Deep weave: Complex structures inside a soft
thinking machine
Toni Buckby - Interlace project: Open source weaving in Derby Silk
Mill Museum of Making

Intermission - music box performance by David Littler

Session 3 - Textile as interface (Chair: Becky Stewart)
Victoria Mitchell - Braiding & dancing
Rosamaria Kostic Cisernos - Weaving in Flamenco

Session 4 - Threads and technologies on the move (Chair: Emma Cocker)
Dave Griffiths - Penelopean technology - woven robots
Giovanni Fanfani - Interlacing chorality - plaiting, braiding, and
weaving in ancient Greek choral performances

Best wishes,

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