6283 Art and Sustainability: Connecting Patterns for a Culture of Complexity

Friday, February 17, 2012: 9:00 AM
Room 214 (VCC West Building)
Sacha Kagan , Leuphana University, Lüneburg, Germany
Global unsustainability is confronting us with our fear of complexity. In our search for sustainability, we must learn, not to be afraid of complexity. However, modern science alone is incapable of understanding genuine complexity.

This challenge points at the requirement for transdisciplinarity and for the emergence of a culture of complexity. Following Edgar Morin's approach to complexity, away from both the simplification of reductionism and the simplification of systemic holism, a culture of complexity implies the possibility to think unity and diversity alongside each other, and to think about any pair of terms, with a combination of unity, complementarity, competition and antagonism, altogether forming a complex relationship and calling forward a dia-logical thinking process.

Transdisciplinarity is not just a fashionable synonym for applied interdisciplinary science. It requires a mode of knowing reality that combines dimensions traditionally split between art and science. We urgently need to develop 'artscience' methodologies fostering both embodied, transversal modes of knowing at the individual level, and a creatively evolutionary capability for resilience at the level of social systems.

Our sensibility to complexity can be raised by aesthetics of sustainability. The role of art in this process is crucial. This is not about art in the traditional modern sense, as a separate, specialized activity. This is about art as a transformative capability which is fostering subversive imaginations while embedding itself in living communities. Exemplary cases can be found in the work of a few transdisciplinary practitioners known as “ecological artists”.

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