Creation, Evolution, Religion

The Concepts Behind the Series


Creation

The initial inspiration for the series stemmed from my interest in science and philosophy, and specifically in my interest in questions concerning the underlying nature of physical reality and our perception of it.

The original motivation behind the work was a wish to devise a visual means of expressing the concept that our complex universe is generated from the interaction between extremely simple fundamental forces that underlie the cosmos.

Early experimentation resulted in the first work in the series, In the Beginning (2008). This work is described in greater depth here, along with the principles of philosophy and physics that apply to it.

By a fortuitous coincidence several of the works in the series hint at the appearance of the Large Hadron Collider (shown below) which is used to probe the very fundamental levels of reality that the work is concerned with. (By another piece of serendipity some of the pieces also bring to mind a children's optical toy - hinting at the idea of a Large Hadron Kaleidoscope).

lhc
The Large Hadron Collider

While the dynamic expressed in In the Beginning and other early works in the series was primarily concerned with the creation of complex forms at the most fundamental phenomenal level of the physical universe, the work can also be interpreted as a representation of the manner in which the complexity within the universe cascades outwards creating higher levels of reality.

Thus the universe becomes inevitably more complicated and phenomena rich. The fundamental forces underlying the universe lead to the creation of quarks, leading to the creation of atoms, leading to the creation of molecules, leading to the creation of stars, leading to the creation of planets leading to the creation of life leading to the creation of consciousness.

It can be interpreted that the work represents the concept that all phenomena in the universe emanate from the first simple forms that underlie the physical structure of the entire cosmos, and that the work expresses the manner in which complexities in the form of life and consciousness are emergent properties of simple processes.

Evolution

In some of the works the patterns that are generated within the rotating structures resemble plant forms such as flowers and leaves, while in others they resemble scurrying amoeba or similar protozoan life-forms. These resemblances, again unintentional and serendipitous, point to a feature of the underlying idea behind the work - the manifestation of life as an emergent phenomenon of the complex interactions created by the simple rules underlying the structure of the universe.

The manner in which the meaning of the work seems to have evolved beyond its original purpose of simply expressing the dynamic at the core of the universe is fitting, as the unplanned complexification of the meaning of the work thus mirrors the concept of the unplanned complexification of the universe to which it refers, and alludes to the concept that all interactions within the physical realm inevitably give rise to more complex forms as their consequences ripple outwards.

The same dynamic of complexification may be seen in action in the realm of human activity, in which seemingly simple actions splinter into a myriad consequences. This may apply in both the world of physical endeavour (where actions ranging from the invention of the stone age axe to the digital-age computer have had repercussions far beyond their original intent) and to the world of human psychology and thought, where attitudes and ideas emanating in one locality can reverberate and ricochet round the planet.

Religion

The fact that the images in the series generate patterns that we find immediately arresting is also a significant aspect of the work. Humans are pattern-seeking creatures, constantly attempting to find structure and form in things (even where it doesn't exist, such as in Rorschach tests or cumulus clouds). Notice the way that the eye darts from pattern to pattern within some of the images as one tries to pin down the form within the piece.

Several of the works, especially in their static form, bear a resemblance to religious symbols such as crosses, stars and roundels, or even to religious architectural structures such as stained glass rose windows. This resemblance is (yet again) unintended but fortuitous, in that it meshes with the fact that the works are at their core intended as symbols of the generation of structure (and meaning) within the universe, which is also a core concern of religion.

rose window islamic roundel
Christian and Islamic imagery

Another allusion to religion can be found in the way in which the symmetry of many of the patterns that are generated within the works suggests the idea of order within complexity, mirroring the manner in which religion seeks to find order in a seemingly chaotic universe. Here again the parallel with religion is unintentional. (Interestingly, religion can be seen as one of the ideas alluded to a few paragraphs ago, that start in one geographical location and ripple outwards throughout the world in the form of complex cultural matrices.)