The Art of Dynamical Modeling

Implications of a New Scientific World View

The Basics of a Radical Paradigm Shift in Our Understanding

Our modern mechanistic, materialistic view of cause and effect has been undermined by the same scientific method that created it.  Even scientists have just barely begun to appreciate the stunning ways their research challenges our shared assumptions about reality.  But there are a few who are facing the new facts about dynamical reality. In brief, we have been taught to think in logically progressive sequences of cause and effect. Thus to model all events in a mechanical manner. That is the "standard story of science." But now there is a new story. In that version of "how things happen," most of the order we are and perceive arises from circular feedback loops of un-differentiable, simultaneous interactivity--which means from significantly disorderly conditions.

There is indeed much mechanically consistent ordering in the world, but the complex, self-adapting systems of the biosphere and human societies derive their relative continuities from radically interdependent, thus turbulent and partly chaotic, dynamics.

Thus most events arise from unpredictably interactive relationships, from moment to moment, out of which the self-ordering operations of complex systems continually emerge.

The complexity of life is continually being created and maintained by these turbulent yet self-regulating dynamics.

The relative wholes of events, systems, and persons are continually arising from the simultaneous interactions of parts. It is not the particular qualities of the parts themselves that give rise to complex wholes, but aspects of their mutually modifying interdependent interactions--which science cannot fully specify.

Thus the world, and all that is in it, does not in fact operate the way we tend to 'see' it--as specifiable sequences of cause and effect.

We exist as and among systems that are not centralized structures but de-centered networks of ever fluctuating interdependent relationships. It is the interactive dynamics of these "operational networks" that generate their emergent wholeness and its self-ordering capacities.

When these relationships are "mapped", to the degree that is feasible, the dynamical networks that actually generate these systems do not look at all like our ordinary perception of them. Indeed, such networks can only be illustrated scientifically as mathematical or schematic abstractions.

Abstract as these representations are, they are actually more 'like' how our selves, our relationships, and the actual systems of society and Nature around us, actually manifest than the ordinary appearances we perceive. What makes us who we are is an ultimately undefinable and unpredictable, yet measurably self-generating and self-adapting network of interacting relationships.

This new world view of dynamical science shows how we have fundamentally misunderstood reality--and thus how we have dangerously debilitated the capacity of Natural systems to generate and maintain themselves. We desperately need to re-orient our cultural world view if we are to survive.

We have to find ways to overtly think, or at least appreciate, not only the orderly processes associated with linear dynamics, but also the strangely disorderly ordering arising from complexity and its nonlinear dynamics -- if we are to become scientifically realistic.

Art Models These Complex Dynamics

The new science demonstrates that we cannot completely analyze, describe, and explain these elusive, world creating dynamics. But its insights into hidden relational networks that unpredictably generate order out of conflicted interdependency also provide a new empirical basis for understanding the epistemological function of metaphoric symbolism. The seemingly unrealistic ways art often represents things and events can now be seen as a "correction" of our ordinary, mechanistic assumptions about cause and effect. By shifting our awareness away from our literalistic sensing of things and events, symbolism can move it toward the strange activities of complex dynamics. The irreducibly interdependent relationships of symbolic representations suggest dynamical associations that act as metaphors for real world systems. 

By creating images, actions, and events that simulate the interdependent relationships that make 'wholes that are greater than' the parts from which these arise, the art of dynamical metaphor provides us with symbolic experiences of such dynamics. Understood thusly, these aesthetic experiences can shift our awareness, and so our behaviors, in profound ways.

Artistic intuition perceives the invisible dynamical networks that actually 'make' us and the world around us, generating images and actions that disrupt our ordinary perceptions, thus out understanding of 'how things are what they are.' The 'distortions' of artistic metaphor are crucial to our engaging the hidden dynamics of 'how things actually happen.'

With such overly unrealistic representations, art can shift our experience of things and events toward what is normally marginal in our awareness, thus from obsession with linear dynamics toward the more nonlinear, from what is familiarly structured to what is more chaotic and complex, thus seemingly un- or anti-structural. These shfits are characteristic of symbolic mentality 'taking precedence' over our literalsitic pragmatism.

We now have a scientific basis for understanding that art has long been the means by which humans engaged this mysteriously self-organizing, transformative aspect of 'how things actually are and happen.' If we use this scientific evidence to validate this essential mode of perceiving the dynamical complexity of our selves and the world around us, art can play a primary role in re-orienting society toward a more realistic, thus a more sustainable world view.

We can shift from manipulative egoic behavior, to more interdependent, thus ecologically participatory behavior:

A New Scientific World View and Its Logically Un-Representable Dynamics

It has taken over 50 years for the wider implications of scientific research into nonlinear dynamics, chaos, complex systems, and their self-organizing, self-adapting operational networks to become evident.  Study in many different areas, from meteorology to ecology, biology, neurology, economics, and computer modeling, have begun to converge in recent summary accounts by leading researchers.  In short, the actual dynamical processes that order and regulate the world around us have been shown to arise from disorderly, radically interdependent conditions that produce unpredictably creativity and even willfully self-determining networks of feedback-driven relationships.   These dynamical conditions involve simultaneously synergistic activity--"everything is happening all at once." They are not fully describable nor explainable by the standard Laws of Physics. They cannot be represented nor understood in consistently logical terms. We are confronted by scientific evidence, supported by testable theory, that there is indeed fundamental mystery to the reality of "how the world actually works."

Making Visible Hidden Dynamics Through Metaphoric Modeling

In so far as science can represent these strangely creative and self-determining dynamics, the concepts and graphics used to illustrate them reveal how their radical interdependence has an aspect that is "hidden" from detailed, sequential analysis. It cannot be "taken apart" and understood in a mechanical manner. These same concepts and illustrations depict a kind of inter-relational character similar to that of works of art.  The way artistic representation associates  various elements and generates a holistic sense of experience or meaning effectively models the complex dynamics described by the science. Art works can thus be understood as dynamical metaphors for these "hidden" dynamics that actually generate most of the order in and around us.

The Dynamical Simultaneity of Image and Object

Images and objects, indeed even events, whether experienced as literal external things or imagined, manifest as wholes, arising from networks of simultaneously interdependent relationships. Relationally, they are dynamical phenomena that cannot be reduced to any single progressive sequence, though we reflexively tend to attempt this mode of interpretation. Art works emphasize our experience of this interdependent whole that is "more than the sum of its parts" by removing them from ordinary, practical contexts. It is in this manner that art directs out attention and experience toward the interactive dynamical relationships of things and events.

The Factual Symbolism of A Greater Reality

It is now possible to understand art as the "factual symbolism" of a reality that is much "greater than" what we moderns have previously conceived.  This new perspective not only enhances the role of art in understanding reality, thus providing a more profound sense the importance it plays in culture or society. It also poses a new basis for considering the aesthetic value of art works. The more intense their effect is in re-orienting our experience of "how things actually happen," the more effective they can be considered as dynamical metaphors that expand our awareness of Nature's "hidden" dynamical processes.'

Network Science and The Spiritual Reality of Art

Complex adaptive systems, from ecologies to species, societies, and individual humans, have been shown to manifest operational networks that not only self-organize their systems but willfully direct and adapt them through self-induced transformations. This autonomous network behavior amounts to self-animation, thus is a factual version of spiritual agency in Nature. These self-organizing, self-creating dynamics are represented in art works in both subtle and more overt ways. The interdependency of elements, both material and stylistic, models the "whole creating interactive feedback" of operational system networks. When the subject involves a recognizable depiction of a complex system, such as a landscape or some "creature-like" entity, the suggestion of a self-creating, thus self-animating dynamical network becomes more overt. In addition to how perceiving such representation stimulates an experience of network agency through dynamical metaphors, the process of creating them can produce a sense in the artist of "assisting" the self-animating character of a network system to "manifest itself."  Perhaps the most over version of is the enactments of a dancer, singer, or actor. Thus thus there a variety of ways in which art can engage or express the normally obscure but now scientifically actual "spiritual agency" of network dynamics.

Art is the Mirror of Dynamical Mystery