Re: [-empyre-] making a meta-living

Thanks Paul for such a comprehensive train of thought, qualifying your earlier comments.
It helps me understand your stance a little more, particularly with regard to your attitude towards history and the, 'patterns' you are recognising there.

For my part, such patterns sometimes momentarily emerge, but it seems that things shift more and blur more from where I'm sitting.

best wishes,


Thomson & Craighead /
Currently & until Nov 2005: Algorithmic Revolution, ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany
Currently: Database Imaginary, Walter Philips Gallery, Banff, Canada
Currently: Pass the Time of Day, Gasworks, London

One of the problems arising out of the dialogue that Mitchell has
engendered on this list is I believe (another personal opinion) the
confusion between containers and contents.

A bottle is a class of things (I hope I'm not getting too Platonic) that
contains stuff. That stuff can be nutritious drinks, medicines, illicit
stimulants, alcohol, poison, cleaning fluid, petrochemical fuel, or it
can be empty, and the list goes on...

In the world of literature (or better writing) the relationship between
the container and content was well explored in the 19/20th century by many
key figures - Peirce, Wittgenstein, Shannon, Lyotard, Resnais, etc...

In the visual arts I don't think we are anywhere near the understanding
that semiotics and semiology have given us of language. I think this is
because visual communication is both pre-linguistic (ref. my earlier
posts) and also much more complex than the serial linguistic model.
One of Russell's students - Spencer-Brown is a key figure for me - his
boundary grammar can be used to build the whole of logic and thence
mathematics. AND it's also essentially a visual (indexical as well as
symbolic to use Peirce's terms) language.

It's my belief that it's only now, with the computational tools we have
only recently developed, that we have the means to really explore these
concepts - the relationship between art as a container and art as a
means of communicating ideas.  And this is what I think is important,
this is what compels me to do what I do.  And this is my answer to your
question "What lies on the extension of that line?".

There's another concept here that's useful - the distinction between a
pure activity and an applied one.  Pure mathematics is introspective -
mathematics analysing itself, applied maths looks elsewhere for its

I see what I'm doing as "pure" art - art that explores itself - and I'm
not interested in content apart from what may emerge spontaneously from
the process itself. A key part of my aesthetic philosophy is my
commitment to a belief in that emergent potential - that purely
random symbolic manipulation when subject to appropriate attractors
can produce structure and "meaning". The universe itself is proof of
this potential. 16 billion years from a hot plasma to humans beings (and
no gods driving the bus).

I'm also very suspicious of "content motivated" art - just as I'm also
suspicious of applied art (which is driven more by marketing than utility).
A very good friend, the late John Lansdown, once told me he considered
designers to be the "slaves of the yuppie culture". As I would suggest
are many, if not most of the artists associated with BritArt. Your
good self, of course, excluded!

But I should get off my soapbox and stand aside and look forward to
hearing what Ken Rinaldo and Mauro Annunziato have to say.
empyre forum

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