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Symposium « Forking Paths».

"Complexity in the Arts and Sciences" Colloquium

June 10 - 12, IRCAM will hold an international symposium (organized in collaboration with the Département du développement culturel du Centre Pompidou) that brings together ambitious aesthetic experiences and scientific eventualities on the idea of idea of complexity that can be found in a wide range of topics in humanities and science today.

Can we question the conditions surrounding the conception, the writing, the realization, the reception through the lens of complexity in cinema, literature, painting, or architecture? Scientific models seem to teach us that the systems that capture our attention are "on the edge of chaos". In effect, it is at the borderline between order and chaos that systems evolve toward higher levels of organization as there is a large enough number of attractors to incite a front of innovation while avoiding - for the observer - a cognitive exhaustion inherent to complete order or to disorder, and therefore favoring the possibilities of progressive appropriation that then diminish the intensity of the surprise. If we admit that these properties are sought out by artists, even at a purely intuitive level, we can ask ourselves if there is a bond that brings together the temporal strategies of the composer, the film director, the digital artist - strategies that orient the viewer's subjective time - and the strategies related to the structural complexity of a work or art.

In this encounter between artists and scientists, the relationship with time goes beyond conventional operating strategies. For Prigogine, the bifurcations crystallize the story of the system. At the heart of all forms and processes in material and living systems, points of bifurcation make up a chronology of their former interactions with the environment. For the artist this also raises the question of choice and delegation of choice in the hostory of the creative process.

To orient this broad network of questions that could be raised among participants from the sciences or the arts during these days, we have chosen to organize the encounters in three categories:

  • Languages will be dedicated to the notions of writing, mathematics, formal languages, logic, computer science, and algorithmic complexity.
  • Conceptions is designed around the systematic thinking of creation, generation, of structural complexity, of intentionality, and of (auto)-poetic systems.
  • Time, Space, and Perception will address physical and perceptive complexity, models for memory, anticipation, and surprise, narration, history, performance, large-scale networks and societies.

Within each of these general categories the important concepts found in the science of complexity, in particular auto-organization, autonomy, and emergence in systems far from equilibrium, as well as the major paradigms-domains (physics, biology, computer technology, etc.) will be clarified for the general public and tested through a comparison with artistic practices, and tested as tools for analysis as well as creation.

Scientific Symposium Argument


Epistemology, philosophy: Henri Atlan (recorded interview), Jean-Pierre Dupuy
Computer Science/Information Theory: Grégoire Carpentier, Arshia Cont, Shlomo Dubnov
Mathematics: Marc Chemillier, Paul Bourgine, John Casti, Andrée Ehresmann
Musicology-Performance: Philippe Albèra, Mario Caroli
Physics-Chemistry: Jean-Pierre Boon, Carl Djerassi, Wiebke Drenchkan, Lisa Randall, Richard Taylor, Denis Weaire
Architecture: Philippe Rahm
Composition-Theory: Geoffroy Drouin, Brian Ferneyhough, Jean-Luc Hervé, Fabien Lévy, Hèctor Parra, Dmitri Tymoczco
Film: Lars von Trier (via videoconference), Raoul Ruiz
Literature: Christophe Claro, Mark Danielewski, Renaud Camus

Symposium organized in collaboration with the Centre Pompidou, ISC-PIF (Institut des systèmes complexes de Paris Ile-de-France), le CREA (Centre de recherche en épistémologie appliquée - École polytechnique), l'Université libre de Bruxelles,  and IIASA (International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis). With the support of the MRT (Mission de la recherche et de la technologie du ministère de la Culture et de la Communication), the CNRS, Andrea von Braun Stiftung and CO-ME-DI-A project (EACEA - Projet Culture 2007-2013 de l'Union européenne).

9:30am-6pm / Centre Pompidou, petite salle