ECOLOGICAL = HOLISTIC PATTERN PROCESSING

IN ART AND SCIENCE

(Selection and examples) 

 

 

The extraordinary explosion of knowledge in the last decades in terms of what occurs in the brain when we see, and how we then understand the world around us, has automatically led to a new understanding of perception, both of the world and of the images we make of it.

Seeing and understanding are not two different processes, but one and the same. In order to make the world intelligible, the brain attempts to recognize reasonably consistent patterns within the confusion of signals it receives. These patterns give us the impulse to act. The fundamental ability to simultaneously classify diverse visual and acoustic, spatial and temporal, statistical and dynamic patterns is the basis for conceptualization, abstraction and inductive thinking, and thus, ultimately, for intelligence.

 

The psychologist James Jerome Gibson in "Perception and Environment" (1979) described "AMBIENT VISION " – ecological awareness, perception of an environment – as flowing natural vision in contrast to rigid pictorial vision. He proved that visual perception is essentially a form of thinking which is blind without the raw material of sensory information. Both perception and its constant adaptation to changing stimuli in the environment takes place not by imaging, but through constructive processing.

While the central perspective, developed during the Renaissance, laid the grounds for visual objectivity, it was to influence not only how we see, but our whole occidental consciousness. When the Renaissance man realized the wide possibilities of appropriating the world by means of the methodology of perspective, his planned dressage of nature began...

One-dimensional vision can become the trap of perception. The central perspective is even a prime example of visual narrowing. Especially at a time when our attention is focused on quadratic screens with powerful technologies. The sense of millions of years of evolution In the end, it can not be possible to see the world through a hole. Technically mediated images make us passive. They force the nervous system to have internal rhythms and clocks.There is no room for a continuing imagination. Thus the concept of the central perspective is to be understood not only in an art historical, but in a much wider sense.

 

PERCEPTION OF PATTERNS  

 

 

We live in a time of deep fragmentation of all areas of life and have to develop strategies to recognize the overall picture in order to make it a usable whole. In nature, the ability to interpret and visualize patterns depends on the survival of all living things, without exception. In evolution, not the strongest survived, but the one who best mastered that ability. This shows how necessary it is today to develop a way of seeing that unlocks our sensitivity to ecological = holistic processes.

In the real world, patterns spontaneously arise as a result of chemical and physical reactions that never repeat themselves. It is the dance of the molecules. This self-organization of patterns in nature is the language of nature. They combine to form a comprehensive network structure. Small patterns organize themselves to the great landscape. The limestone already contains the optical structure of the limestone lime. One speaks of self-similarity. The difference is only in the differential ratio of circumstances. Atmosphere of an environment arise because structured patterns behave in a certain relationship to each other.

 

 

An example: a pile of stones that comes from a collapsed wall. Whether it has collapsed from old age, whether it has been overturned by human hands, whether it has exploded, or has been swept away by a tidal wave - only the specific pattern of the arrangement of the remnants in a specific structured environment provides us with the exact optical information , in a split second. From the ability to see the structure of a pattern and its dynamics as a whole, our orientation in the world has always been dependent,

 

 

The beginning of last century saw a paradigm shift in the perception of the world, which was reflected in the ARTS. The best-known example of this was in painting. In the early analytical phase of Cubism, Picasso and Braque were deeply concerned with the question of how shapes can be depicted such that distance, angle and lighting conditions no longer have relevance.

Cezanne had taught them: "only in their sum, their relationship and interaction do the objects reveal themselves to the viewer".

Thus, in nature, patterns of nature become visible through aperspectival representation in a new dimension. Cubism, for example: "With the grip on immediate, total comprehension, cubism suddenly proclaimed that the medium is the message," McLuhan wrote in his main work "Understanding Media." (2) If Marshall McLuhan were to do so, it would be a central perspective as we know it since the Renaissance, not only in question, but to sort out completely.

 

At the end of the sixties, McLuhan experimented with some of his key ideas in terms of design, in order to convey the contents of the medium - a credo that has flowed into his programmatic dictum "The Medium is the Message" and made famous. The media theorist advocates overcoming the distanced viewer's position, which in his understanding primarily determines the central perspective, and to find oneself in a "world of simultaneous relationships". This idea influenced painting, physics, poetry, communication and educational theory to this day.

 

 

 

 

From these artists, it is not far to what is known as decentered consciousness in PHILOSOPHY. That is, the form of consciousness in which the ‘I’ dissociates itself from its strategic counterpart in favor of a center-less state of belonging. The psychological one-point perspective dissolves into a flowing perspective of signification.

Any form of MEDITATION also has the aim of dissolving the illusion of psychological one-point perspective with its subject-object dualism in favor of a holistic perception of the environment.

Philosophy has begun to take nature seriously again and to take an interest in the world rather than just thinking about the world's view of mankind. "The avant-garde and futuristic contempt of nature is far behind us" writes Gernot Böhme in Naturally Nature (4)

 

 

In 2014, The Nobel Prize for Medicine was awarded to the NEURO SCIENTISTS John O'Keefe, May-Britt and Edvard Moser with the statement "the researchers have solved a problem that has occupied philosophers and scientists for centuries – how does the brain create a map of the space surrounding us and how can we navigate our way through a complex environment? This is a prize for the fundamental discovery of how our perception works."

The researchers demonstrated that the brain acquires information from countless situations and saves it as clusters in place and grid cells. The brain uses this activity pattern to create an internal map of the environment, or rather, many internal maps of many environments.  

Any known area is stored as a unique place and grid cell activity cluster in the hippocampus. Every pattern is thereby assigned to a specific feature of the determined environment, a so-called landmark.They are thus of great importance not only for spatial orientation, but also for the understanding of memory and the imagination. The internal map in the brain is formed based on specific environmental characteristics which are accessed when we recognize a particular space. Patterns are the key components for orientation in the real world, providing impulses for our actions

In MEDICINE, the distinction between endogenous and alien cells is of vital importance. Evolution has formed molecular patterns recognized by IMMUNCELLS via Pattern Recognition Receptors (PRPs) as an effective means of combating many pathogens.

 

In MATHEMATICS algorithms do exactly the same.They browse large amounts of data in order to detect therein relationships between individual characteristics - patterns. These are then compared with other already known patterns. 

Alfred North Whitehead says in "Principia Mathematica" (5) that mathematics is essentially the study of patterns in the abstraction of individual elements.

 

As a natural philosopher, Whitehead describes the real nature in space and time as an event in which the notion of the parts makes the notion of the whole possible. "An event is the incorporation of a pattern of aspects into a unity, and the efficacy of an event beyond itself arises from the abstract of itself, which together form the recorded units of other events." (6)

 

 

The mathematician Steven Wolfram in "A new Kind of  science"(7) has shown with numerous visual examples that the cellular automata control systems he developed correspond exactly to those we see in nature: patterns of mussels, fluid turbulence, or "non-equilibrium phase transitions" as explored in synergetic science .(7)

 

COMPUTER SCIENCE is also analyzing methods to automatically classify signals into categories. The key is the identification of common patterns and characteristics in any one category that differ from the patterns and characteristics of other categories. Pattern-recognition programs enable computers, robots and other machines to process not only precise, but also less precise information about an environment. But the technically mediated information has its limits. Basic aesthetic experience as the perception of atmospheres, the sense of beauty and moods will remain still for a long time a purely human speciality.

 

In ARCHITECTURE the system theoretician, philosopher and architect Christopher Alexander introduces the term pattern language. In the trilogy "A Pattern Language"(8) different complex architectural aspects and structures are logically combined. Structures are subdivided and linked into patterns, facilitating the communication of shared ideas in complex contexts, as well as the easier combination of theoretical research and practical application.

According to his conviction, the universe is not made of "things," but of patterns -- of complex, interactive geometries. This way of understanding the world can unlock marvelous secrets of nature, and perhaps even make possible a renaissance of human-scale design and technology. 

 

The principles developed by Alexander, in particular the concept of the pattern language, have been taken up and further developed in many areas outside of architecture. Also in computer science, the term pattern language is used with reference to Alexander.

 Alexander's late work "The Nature of Order" (9) has a philosophical character and develops a comprehensive theory of living systems and an overview of their central concepts such as wholeness, life characteristics, structure and process,

 

Lucius Burckhard introduced promenadology (walk science) as a scientific discipline. He examined the holistic perception and conception of environment as a prerequisite for architecture and design. With his formula: "Good design is invisible" (1970) he expanded the design concept.

  

 

  

 

 

 MUSIK inspired by nature uses sound patterns. This is particularly well known in relation to romanticism, but there are also many examples in contemporary music. The individual sound patterns per se are only insignificant noises, but in a coherent compositional context they take on musical form and become impressive music

One special genre in contemporary music, the so-called SOUNDSCAPES, is dedicated to the acoustic representation of landscape. The concept of different landscapes serve as an analogy fixed, Things change, but not their patterns. 

for the exploration of musical fields and their tonal relationships.

AMBIENT MUSIK is a genre of electronic music that  puts an emphasis on tone and atmosphere over traditional musical structure or rhythm and focuses on sound patterns more than melodic form. It is used to create a certain atmosphere or state of mind.According to Brian Eno, one of its pioneers, "Ambient music must be able to accommodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular

 

 VISUAL PATTERNS which are related to each other, yield aperspectival spaces: in image complexes, images or image series. Here is my painterly approach: depicting landscapes as TERRAIN. The central perspective view, however, allows only a limited number of specified sections of the whole. In the representation of a terrain, the viewer can visually walk and observe himself while seeing. Any form of visual perception can be linked to images from previous experiences stored in the brain. Repetition and recognition is important for the appearance of things in the imagination of the beholder. Things change in their appearance, but not their patterns. As in the real world, a shape changes when the location is displaced, but the invariant features remain unchanged, and the relationship to the whole becomes even clearer.

 

The GAPS as interfaces also play a role in the perception of the whole. The word "intelligence" comes from the Latin "inter legitur", meaning "read in between", where remembered visual experiences are combined with the patterns depicted. 

 At the beginning of last century, the great art historian Aby Warburg established that on contemplating a series of images, an overriding understanding is gained from the spaces in between the images, from the gaps ,see "Mnemosyne, iconology of the gap" (10)

 

 

 

Gilles Deleuze in Logic of Meaning: "Complex series circulate common characteristics that guarantee communication with each other. They constantly shift in relation to others, in addition they change their own similarity, paradoxically they thereby stabilize the typical structure. Inner coherence and convergence towards a target allows a chain reaction of the metamorphoses. The surplus richness of forms in nature as well as in art makes it possible to repeat itself by disentangling itself. "(11)

 

 

The ARTS AND SCIENCES are not separate domains, but multifaceted dimensions in a common cultural space. This can be seen in the examples above from disciplines dedicated to the study of perception and pattern processing. Their contributions add to our perception of the world. 

1)     James Jerome Gibson: The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception. 1979. Dt.:       Wahrnehmung und Umwelt. Urban & Schwarzenberg, München 1982.

2)    Marshall McLuhan: Understanding Media. The Extensions of Man., McGrawHill, New York 1964 

3)    Peter Sloterdijk: Der ästhetische Imperativ, Suhrkamp 2014, S. 479

4)    Gernot Böhme:  Atmosphäre, Suhrkamp 1995, S.178

 5)    Alfred North Whitehead: Principia mathematica (mit Bertrand Russel), Cambridge University  Press. 2. Aufl. 1925 (Bd. 1), 1927 (Bde. 2, 3).

6)  Alfred North Whitehead: Wissenschaft und moderne Welt, Suhrkamp 1988,  s. 144

7)  A New Kind of Science. Wolfram Media Inc., Champaign Ill 2002

8)  A Pattern Language ,1978 ,Oxford University Press

9) The Nature of Order (Band 1- 4), 2002, University of California, Berkeley.

10) Philippe-Alain Michaud: Zwischenreich. Mnemosyne, ou l´expressivité sans sujet.

11)  Gilles Deleuze: Logik des Sinns, Suhrkamp 1993, S.60 ff