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Strange attractor

Art+ research project

Posted January 11, 2023

To give shape and purpose to my art and research activities in the year ahead, I have devised a project that will draw together ideas identified during and beyond postgraduate study and discoveries made through explorations with mediums and materials. The matrix from which it will emerge is characterised by the challenging and complicated times through which we are living.

To convey why the term 'strange attractor' seems appropriate in this moment, a good first step is to try and explain it. It comes from chaos theory, an area of science that coalesced from various lines of enquiry in the 1970s, and refers to the unusual kind of order found within chaotic systems. While a truly disordered system has many variables that conspire to randomness, a chaotic one has a deeply encoded structure, or attractor. This is referred to as  ‘strange’ because such systems seem oddly drawn to a particular kind of behaviour that manifests as a distinctive pattern in a multidimensional space (known as ‘phase space’). What I find interesting, then, is that the word chaotic does not describe disorder but, instead, a previously misunderstood, complex type of order.

My hope for the project is that it will create an opportunity to probe my interests and tendencies while gaining insights into non-linear dynamical systems that may underlie social, political and cultural activity. There is much to discover, think about and learn, helped along by regular blog and artwork posts, and culminating in an exhibition. 


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