Evolution operates through morphological change. Morphological change affects the physical shape and construction of organisms, including animals and humans, but also their movements and interactions. Self-organization and emergence are aspects of complexity theory that refer to overlapping sets of chemical, biological, mathematical, spatial, and even social and technological phenomena. Complexity theory discusses the unique properties that arise in systems whose elements are in dynamic interaction. Self-organization can arise in inorganic and organic materials. It occurs in complex systems when the elements of those systems react to local conditions and build or arrange themselves in new ways. Emergence is said to occur in systems where the whole is greater than the parts.
This workshop explores evolution through the morphological behavior-changes found in animals who self-organize. At the same time, we will consider the ways in which scientific material can be used in the arts.
Convening at the Museum of Southwestern Biology, we will investigate its collections and discuss the potential uses of these materials for artistic research. In the course of our two days, each participant will make an initial effort towards the production of a work of art.
Day 1: We had the privilege to hear from Dr. Luis Bettencourt, theoretical physicist from the Santa Fe Institute, on "Complex Systems and Patterns":
...and from MSB collections manager Dr. Jon Dunnum in the mammal collection:
....and paleobiologist Dr. Felisa Smith (UNM) on using collections to study patterns in mammal teeth and body size:
Day 2: Brian Conley leads roundtable discussion on creative work from the collections and on self-organizing systems: