Honors 1360 – Complexity and the Arts


This course explores the interplay between physical and biological systems and the realm of the arts. As with any human endeavor, art emerges from a social milieu that includes the creator’s and the observer’s education, belief systems, cultural immersion, political commitments, and so on. What a work of art “means” to the artist and what it “means” to the observer clearly depend to a considerable extent on social factors. But esthetic response is also very much a biophysical phenomenon—shaped by how sense organs detect energy and by how information is processed in the central nervous system and the brain. The biophysical mechanisms associated with esthetic response result from eons of evolution occurring on an ordinary planet orbiting an ordinary star in an otherwise vast, cold, dark universe. This course argues that a full appreciation of the role of art and music in human culture requires at least some recognition of the irreducible influence of the physical universe on the realm of esthetics. In Complexity and the Arts we will explore the physics and physiology of sound and light. We will think some about observation and reality. And we will look at how the tools of complexity science can be applied to making new art(s) and, perhaps, to how they can help us understand why we “dig rock and roll music.”




Links file


Power point files


Š          Slime and stuff

Š          Why do we do art?

Š          Which painting done by a robot?

Š          Color context

Š          Printed urn


net program