DISCRETENESS AND CONTINUITY IN LIVING SYSTEMS

Art & Biology (BIO*ART)

Convener Alan Rayner

Topics for discussions have included discreteness and continuity in living systems', pattern and scale in living systems', order, organisation and chaos', pattern and scale in the Universe', the difference between design and pattern' and water and evolution'. Each discussion has been led by two members of the group, one from a scientific and the other from an artistic background. The discussions have helped to improve the understanding of the relationship between the science and art of life and to evolve the new philosophy of Bio*Art.
Bio*Art is a form of art which expresses and draws inspiration from the dynamic boundaries of living systems. It aims to integrate aesthetic appreciation with scientific understanding of the dynamic qualities to be found in the diverse patterns generated by living systems. By so doing, it yields a truly compassionate view of life which reconciles our spiritual needs for individual freedom and universal belonging. It can take any form painting, sculpture, music, dance, horticulture, landscaping that engages with the dynamic boundaries of living systems.
The philosophy of Bio*Art recognises that the origin of living patterns lies in the transfer of energy across and within an interactive context delimited by dynamic boundaries that can open, close, expand and reconfigure according to circumstances.
These boundaries occur at all scales from molecular to social and consist of regions of relative order that can contain, transport and respond to sources of free energy. When these are plentiful, boundaries differentiate into competitive, relatively autonomous, dissipative structures; when supplies are restricted they integrate into coherent, energy-conserving organisations. The interplay between integration and differentiation is the basis of life cycles and the source of evolutionary diversity and it depends on feedback processes. The interplay is at the heart of the aesthetic and spiritual appeal of living systems which Bio*Art seeks to demonstrate.
Alan Rayner