Tag Archives: theory

Human vs. Animal (1)

Anthropogenic effects, processes or materials are those that are derived from human activities, as opposed to those occurring in biophysical environments without human influence.

The term is often used in the context of environmental externalities in the form of chemical or biological wastes that are produced as by-products of otherwise purposeful human activities.

The term anthropogenic designates an effect or object resulting from human activity. The term was first introduced as “anthropocene” in the mid-1970s by the atmospheric scientist Paul Crutzen.

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Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human characteristics to non-human creatures and beings, phenomena, material states and objects or abstract concepts. Examples include animals and plants depicted as creatures with human motivation able to reason and converse and forces of nature such as winds, rain or the sun. The term derives from the combination of the Greek ἄνθρωπος (ánthrōpos), “human” and μορφή (morphē), “shape” or “form”.

It is strongly associated with art and storytelling where it has ancient roots. Most cultures possess a long-standing fable tradition with anthropomorphised animals as characters that can stand as commonly recognised types of human behaviour.

Anthropomorphic animals are often used as mascots for sports teams or sporting events, often represented by humans in costumes.

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Anthropocentrism (from Greek: άνθρωπος, anthropos, “human being”; and κέντρον, kentron, “center”) or anthrocentrism is the belief that humans must be considered at the center of, and above any other aspect of, reality. This concept is sometimes known as humanocentrism or human supremacy. It is especially strong in certain religious cultures, such as the Old Testament stating that God gave man dominion over all other earthly creatures.

Anthropocentrism has been posited by some environmentalists,  in such books as Confessions of an Eco-Warrior by Dave Foreman and Green Rage by Christopher Manes, as the underlying (if unstated) reason why humanity dominates and sees the need to “develop” most of the Earth. Anthropocentrism has been identified by these writers and others as a root cause of the ecological crisis, human overpopulation, and the extinctions of many non-human species.

Anthropocentrism, or human-centredness, is believed by some to be the central problematic concept in environmental philosophy, where it is used to draw attention to a systematic bias in traditional Western attitudes to the non-human world. Val Plumwood has argued, that anthropocentrism plays an analogous role in green theory to androcentrism in feminist theory and ethnocentrism in anti-racist theory. Plumwood calls human-centredness “anthrocentrism” to emphasise this parallel.

In science-fiction, Humanocentrism is the idea that humans, as both beings and a species, are the superior sentients. Essentially the equivalent of race supremacy on a galactic scale, it entails intolerant discrimination against sentient non-humans, much like race supremacists discriminate against those not of their race. This idea is countered by Anti-Humanism. Such an ideology echoes a potential (but not certain) future for Neo-fascism (especially Neo-Nazism).

Humanocentrism is a central theme in the science-fiction comic book series Nemesis the Warlock in which humanity (here referred to as Terrans) have conquered much of the galaxy and seek to enslave all alien life. Humans are here depicted as antagonists, an unusual plot device in science-fiction.

In the Star Wars universe, the Galactic Empire is shown to be humanocentric, ruthlessly subjugating alien worlds, enslaving many of them, and only employing humans in its military. Grand Admiral Thrawn is a notable exception to this rule, likely because of both his immense talent and his partially human bloodline.

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Source: Wikipedia


Multiverse (M) Theory and a tower of tortoises…

Featured above is the first of five parts of the BBC documentary: “Parallel Universes”. So-called ‘M’ (Multiverse) Theory in physics has been circulating in the air for some time now. Being still a big gamble and a hypothesis per se – one can be actually surprised that is being served by the BBC as a sort of a new ‘Decalogue’ to believe in…

To state my point of view – I’m quite impressed (who wouldn’t be…) – the sheer visionary power, actual and theoretical potential and imaginative flair of this new-born piece of science is simply entrancing. Einstein’s biggest dream of constructing the Theory of Everything – at once beautiful and working, seems to live on and evolve in interesting, unforeseen directions.

At the same time I have in mind the funniest first few sentences of a great scientific book, I’ve ever read. Stephen Hawking in his “A Brief History of Time” starts his explanations from an anecdote:

After Bernard Russell finished his proud lecture on the spherical nature of the Universe, he had to face a point of view of a little old lady, who said: This is all rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on a back of a giant tortoise. Russell asked with a superior smile: But what is the tortoise standing on? And the little old lady replied: You are very clever, young man… But it’s the turtles all the way down!

And Hawking challenges us further in his uniquely reachable, crystal-like prose (actually, it’s so casually understated, that I remember double checking, if my book was an original “Hawking” and not the simplified version):

Most people would find the picture of our universe as an infinite tower of tortoises rather ridiculous, but why do we think we know better? What do we know about the universe, and how do we know it? (…) Some of the recent, breakthrough answers may seem as obvious as the earth orbiting the sun – or perhaps as ridiculous as a tower of tortoises…Only time (whenever it may be) will tell.

Is the enchanting ‘M’ Theory that tower of tortoises, or is it the Holy-Grail of science finally found? I can’t assess it scientifically, but from an artistic point of view this concept of physics alone dwarfs a big chunk of the conceptual and postmodern ‘philosophy’ as formed and portrayed by artists – actually, it makes it appear as intellectually ‘lazy’ or simply pretentious, lacking in the visionary impact and, recently, quite impotent to generate any sustainable, innovative ideas… A. Einstein defending fiercely his freedom of imagination, which is ‘more important than knowledge’ (as he stated), S. Hawking or Michio Kaku – the devil’s advocate of ‘M’ Theory – they all present themselves as being much more, in much profound way… artists than many professionals within the fine art field I can think about…

Around 4.26 minute of the video presented  Michio Kaku beautifully dances on ice  talking about his childhood dream to take part in Einstein’s quest to link and explain everything in the universe… what an evocative metaphor of both – an artist and scientist condition…  Being a visionary and a dreamer, yet a risk-taker and a skillful performer at the same time… Sliding on the thin ice, exposed and vulnerable, yet – pushing the laws of physics in order to find even greater sense, balance and beauty…

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The remaining parts of the documentary:  (2) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=atiLNT… , (3) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4UVYq… , (4) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73hkF1… , (5) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jW3OJO…

Thank you “kellyneill” from Youtube for making this available to all of us.



Chaos Theory, Fractals and the complexity of existence…

I’ve promised you few notes on “Fractal Ontology”. Well, here they go…

The term bridges philosophical notion of ‘ontology’ -(Greek meaning: ‘theory/science of being’) with the phenomenon of ‘fractals’ taken from the natural sciences and maths. Going deeper – ‘fractals’ originate from the Chaos Theory, and this is where one probably should start all the explanations.

Chaos Theory is a dark horse of contemporary science. Two hundred years ago  it would be unthinkable – Newtonian perfectly organized world-view, with its deliciously logical mechanics, was too strong to allow any serious benefit of a doubt.  A hundred years ago Einstein’s genius abolished the rule of determinism, reductionism and objective knowledge in science – his contribution was so revolutionary and complex that it hasn’t been fully digested yet; practically, one can easy predict, that our 21st century would be a completely different fairy-tale if it wasn’t for that one man and his theories…

The ‘scandal’ of Chaos in science had started to develop in maths (with regular experiments being conducted in 1920s onwards), then had been followed by physics, chemistry and biology  – where scientists observed irregularities, even randomness in the dynamics of systems considered as ‘ordered’ by the traditional views. From various chemical reactions in micro and macro-cosmos to weather and climate – universe has started to display itself as – in fact – infinite chaos, rather than the absolute order, as humankind was keen to believe for ages.

In natural world, there have always existed structures and phenomena, which proved to be impossible to describe by traditional Euclidean geometry or Newtonian dynamics… Mountains ranges, clouds, coastlines, crystals, lightning, blood vessels –  boundless, captivatingly beautiful, unpredictable in its evolution though fairly self-similar, they generate themselves forever expanding accordingly to the rules, which cannot be completely captured or explained, simply because they’re no definite rules… Epitomes of Life per se – the face of Nature in its most primordial, creative and self-sustaining structure… These are FRACTALS – children of the organized chaos of the Universe. Yet “chaos” here doesn’t simply mean ‘anarchy’ but ‘a higher order’ – out of confusion and complexity life emerges as a functioning organism, it may be unpredictable and extremely sensitive to any stimulants – yet – it displays that innate tendency to form into patterns and structures – it fosters and commands order despite of all forces that act against it.

Fragmented, ‘broken’, complex, inexhaustible – this is the ‘fractal’ theory of existence (transplanting scientific concepts on the philosophical field). One of those very few examples where the nature of the human thought and the nature of the physical world interweave so closely and creatively.

Focusing on the creativity- ‘fractal’ world-view belongs to the oldest, most pre-thought, deeply spiritual as the example from the ancient “Book of Kells” (above) shows. There are many symbols and primitive art images created by ancient civilizations, which show their intuitive reading of nature as fragmented, ‘fractured’.

Picasso’s portrait of A. Vollard (above), just like many cubists works from its analytical period picture the fractal vision of reality – looks like art preceded science in its practical applications of the Chaos and Fractal Theory (though calling it with different names)… In many abstract and abstract expressionist works, from P. Klee and J. Pollock to postmodern works (look above -work from the “Fractal Gallery”), often digitally generated one can easily noticed how that chaotic, ‘broken’, non-linear (as opposed to ‘classical’ ordered) representation of reality prevails presenting itself with innovative spirit, confidence and haunting beauty.

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Note: Due to the immense complexity of the issues presented and the brief nature of blogging, one cannot consider this article as ‘informative’ in a scientific sense (due to simplifications and the fragmented outlook). Its intent is mainly that of promoting science and its theories. Care will be taken in my further research to develop this, here introduced, art-science affinity concept. Extended information on fractals can be found online – here are some of the links: FractalOntologyWikipedia, Chaos Intro, EnchantedMind and many more…


Studying art (16) -Humility

It will sound like a pure didacticism, yet – this appears to be the new discovery of mine: art is one of the best teachers of humility one can find.

I’ve been going through stages of naive, dreamy escapism, of unconditional passion, of playing tricks and games; I’ve used artistic means to express how much I care about and adore human world and how deeply negative, even nihilistic  about it I may become… I’ve got mesmerizing and intimate moments of a discovery, metamorphosis and truly painful bits of going astray…

And I’ve experienced months passing like weeks and those weeks making me older like one would got in years; childlike and often purely vain self-importance has been interweaving with the periods of self-abuse and self-denial…I made great plans and watched them going to pieces in one small push of fate; I hoped and got disappointed; I gave hope and let others down… My entire worldview and personal identity has been challenged dozens of times and I’ve never felt so powerful and so meaningless in my whole life…

And that’s all because of one decision made over three years ago – to study/make art – decision being continuously and not without a struggle refreshed almost each day…

Yes, art can be and is a severe yet quite compelling mentor and a guide – it knows no masters, truths, rules or logic beyond its own ones; it crowns with immortality and it devours without a blink of an eye.

This period of my study – final months of going towards the first degree in fine art is the time of humility and humiliation – I’m being put down by my own work, simply because it reads me perfectly – that neither my head or my heart are in charge as they should have been… So I’m producing substitutes, broken cups – useless right from the beginning, still-born paintings which I desperately try to revive and the ‘display’ work – to convince myself (yet not my tutors) that I’m in a good shape… I’m not prepared for a defeat yet, I’m not prepared to paint bad paintings, to be rejected and to admit my impotency, the limits of my imagination and mental capability; I’m unable to accept any help and to give much more than is expected of me…

And that’s why I’m not ready to be an artist yet… I may become a graduate in art, I will not become a painter… Unless I will find a way to cease to be – me myself – the biggest obstacle and enemy of my own work.


Liminality in art (2)

The notions of boundaries, borders, limits, thresholds and so on may be as ancient as the human population itself. In Greek/Roman mythology they are expressed by names of different gods/goddesses, hybrids and monsters – Zeus cares for the Olympus, Poseidon is a guardian of waters, Hades rules in the Underground; forests, agriculture, arts and law – every human (divine and monstrous as well) activity and embodiment of the spirit has its own powerful protector/ rules maker and no interference is into each other territory is tolerated.

Religions exist due the numerous polarities, and the most popular story of creation (Book of Genesis) had started exactly from this – from a separation and making sharp divisions between elements and the mater. In order to survive the species would have to define and fight for the territories and the evolution of the human race is an ‘epoch’ of transcending the boundaries of nature, space and time…

The social, cultural and personal identity couldn’t be possible at all without the ongoing, often uncompromising process of the differentiation. And when philosophy tends to look for an unity and structure in the universe despite of all the intrinsic and imposed/created dichotomies, art in general would indulge in exploring the world as seen within the “frame” (think now about Derrida’s “The truth in painting” and his deconstruction attempt of all the ‘frames’ we tend to see the art through) and beyond it.

And so it goes – Christ would be a ‘worthy’ subject, but even some of his disciples not exactly; harmonious human body was only true representation – the ugly/mutilated one was worse than some of the animals; one ‘breed’ of art-view was ‘high’ (read: ‘true’), the others were ‘pseudo-‘; painting the landscape naturally excluded the sky-view and the figurative works were exorcised of all the abstract elements (and vice versa). The universe seen as in an atom of a very particular concept/meaning or a set of those (lets say: christian version of god, humanists’ vision of a man, romantic vision of a landscape, modernists’ subversion to the classical art) which had to be frozen, clearly and in a division to its possible and apparent opposites… This is basically what all the history of the Western Art is about. About Old Testament God’s job of making the world happen by creating borders between chaos and order, good and bad, light and dark, sky and earth, the animals and the human beings, the human beings and the Holy one.

Where the ‘liminal’ creeps into all of this? Well – right at the start, I guess and simply because the artistic activity in itself situates man on the existential threshold; a bit like a prayer or a sexual act – two different worlds meet and penetrate each other; the universe as it is (or appears to be) and the universe to be created… And the conscious artist is very likely to aim at or to be the ‘passeur’ -‘a boatman’, ‘smuggler’ – the man of passage, the guide who leads his audience beyond the status quo crossing social, cultural,  psychological, spiritual and sometimes very physical boundaries in order to show/explain/challenge…

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This article is a part of a series “Liminality in art” where I intend to define and explore the philosophical and aesthetic notion of the liminality. Please, refer to other articles from the series in order to get the fuller view.


Integrity and disintegration… (Whilt 18)

From time to time, and recently quite often, I catch myself as being innocently and profoundly ignorant as to the meaning of some concepts, ideas, words, phrases… It’s got something to do with the English as an adopted language; even if it’s used completely naturally and fluently – there is always that surreal quality of putting on a mask, a costume, going on stage each time I have to or choose to communicate in not-my-mother-tongue… What’s interesting, that after years of being cut of the sophisticated, literary and everyday usage of Polish I’ve lost that absolute ‘feeling’, that innate sense of my first language… So, I’m somewhere between; and even craving – I’m not able to create a decent fiction or poems in either of codes of expression… not yet, not without a considerable struggle, at least…

So, I’ve come across that concept of the artistic integrity – first I had to check in five different dictionaries (of three languages) extended definitions of the notion; each one had a slightly varying shade of meaning attached; so I felt like juggling between them composing the balanced outlook…

Then – the tougher bit came when I asked myself – But what exactly does it mean – to be an artist of integrity? Does it mean the same as being the man of integrity, or – can the professional integrity coexist with the personal disintegration and vice-versa? Is integrity ‘merely’ a virtue you possess or not like courage or modesty, or rather a fundamental component of any individual, without which a serious trouble creeps into your life?… And  how this noble talk relates to the contemporary postmodern ethics (or rather non-ethics) of making/dealing with art? Who has, who can afford now to keep his/hers artistic integrity over time, when sometimes one call from a hated curator or a critic you disregard may be a life changing event? And so on, and so on…

Quite recently I’ve unwillingly provoked one of my tutors (calling my new paintings ‘a mess’) to form and challenge me with ‘the tough question’: If you won’t have an integrity with your work – who else will? To have an integrity with one’s work – that means to be unified in terms of the intent, concepts and the general message; or does it? If I call my own work ‘a mess’ – publicly and honestly – isn’t that enough to prove my solidarity with it? My demanding, yet compassionate unity with a piece of art which happens to be as confused as its author? Does it always have to sound ‘assertive’ and ‘confident’; ‘positive’ and ‘grand’ – like in salesmen’ slimy talk where even obvious downsides are clothed in sweetish-easy ‘solutions’…

And why is ‘integrity’ such a sought feature in an artist after all? I bet it suits perfectly some particular ‘breeds’ of professions – lawyers, doctors, teachers, intellectuals – sure… I know men who are a book-like example of the whole phenomenon – they’re noble and loyal, creative and open-minded; yet there is something vital missing in them – a spark of imagination empowering to jump in the dark, to take bold risks and challenge barriers or even rules, if necessary; they’re the guardians of the gates – and no artist should aim at that domain (not only, not merely, not predominantly).

An artist is a man of integrity chiefly via the creative act – by doing what he was born for – in the best, most dedicated way he/she knows and can apply; what comes to the world from that act is another matter – yet so-called integrity has nothing, or little to do with that.

If my work’s integrity comes from its conscious and chosen disintegration and subversion who can prove it wrong, and on which grounds?

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The Art of Deception


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I’m strangely attached to those photos I’ve made few weeks ago in a one gorgeous day when traveling by a train from an island when I live to the ‘mainland’ (frankly speaking – what a silly idea, to connect an amazingly wild part of an island with the rest of the land by … the railway; you can see the steel construction cutting up the waters of the harbour in half…)

They display clearly what an art of deception may be – what you are most likely to spot immediately in those images is the reflection of a view from an opposite window (which is, obviously, not visible there), the actual view being seen and photographed is either too evident or too blurry (as in a case of the last photo) to catch our eye and attention.

My intuition for today is that the art of deception understood in the above-mentioned way is probably the Art per se. Because what the Art is suppose to ‘show’ is that ‘something’ and ‘everything’ that tends to remain invisible and unaccessible in an immediate contact. That art projects what is the most important onto that what is plain to see and undisguised, and more significantly – it makes that invisible so clear and attractive that we lose ourselves – our perception and feelings just for that. Why is it deceptive, why the art of the ‘deception’ ? I’m not that sure – maybe we are not able to accept some aspects of our humanity and the world around in their absolute pureness and strength, maybe they will ‘blind’ us once seen or endanger our sensible powers and the rational sense ? … Maybe we naturally adapt self-defensive psychological mechanisms to protect ourselves from going ‘too deep’ , to not to struggle too much? So we make our way through our life convincing ourselves and/or letting others to convince us that, once our existence is more or less ‘meaningful’ and comfortable we are not bound to look for anything more, we can just ‘enjoy’ being mothers, husbands, lawyers, artists, farmers (whomever)… All sort of condensed spirituality and throwing oneself into deep waters almost on a daily basis is the ‘job’ of monks, priests, mystics, madmen… Indeed, the entire existence of an average contemporary man is ‘the art’ of deception – but – but this skill conceals rather than reveals, simplifies instead of looking for a fuller view. There are deceptions that make invisible visible and those which shut up the entire worlds.


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