Topology III: Spaces of Transformation. Edges of the World @ Tate Modern, London (January 21, 2012)

Ernesto Neto
Topologic fluency on a structural camp for a high density point, yeah!  1992

Topology Spaces of Transformation Edges of the World 

Artist Ernesto Neto in conversation with physicist Luiz Alberto Oliveira, science writer and curator Margaret Wertheim and philosopher Éric Alliez. 

The participants in this panel experiment with intensive forces of philosophy, art, physics and cosmology, opening affirmative spaces of becoming porous to the outside. These experiments express different topological modes that can be understood as immersion in multiple, complex processes of transformation and flux. ‘Culture separates, bodies unify. How can we on a fragmented cultural planet, topolo-build a level of conviviality and habitability, beyond institutional skins, under a gravitational field?’ Ernesto Neto, Conviviality and Habitability at the Edges of the World ‘In recent years the application of topological concepts and methods to the study of dynamic systems has led to important advancements in our understanding of some basic aspects of the behaviour of complex phenomena appearing in different domains – material structures, living organisations and cognitive processes. Beside their intrinsic scientific importance, the new universality patterns emerging in such phenomena have significant implications for philosophy such as the venerable problem of morphogenesis, or generation of forms. Artistic endeavours, such as Ernesto Neto’s works, are pushing these formal almost abstract questions far beyond the purely intellectual realm, into a novel horizon of powerful aesthetic resources.’ Luiz Alberto Oliveira, Topology and Complexity: an Endeavour This paper focuses on Ernesto Neto’s installation at the Panthéon in Paris, Leviathan Toth (2006), which invests the Panthéon with a confrontation between the image of power (in its modern Hobbesian form) and the power of the image. Neto brings us into a semiotics of intensities that does not belong to the ‘aesthetic regime’, as described by Jacques Rancière, but rather to a diagrammatic agency addressed to site-specific art. The latter will be (re)constructed after Deleuze and Guattari – from a biopolitics of the Body without Organs to a Body without Image. This Body confers on signs a new material power of decoding, which destratifies the space (physical, symbolic, discursive, institutional) anchored around the oscillations of Foucault's Pendulum, in an energetics of forces. It thereby offers a diagrammatic alternative to the metaphor-image of aesthetics. Éric Alliez, Diagrammatic Agency versus Aesthetic Regime: Ernesto Neto's Anti-Leviathan ‘What does it mean to ‘know’? Topologically diverse and geometrically perverse, nature embraces throughout its evolutionary history structures of being that appal the most advanced mathematical minds. Knotted eels, crenellated corals and undulating sea slugs realize in their architectures spatial configurations that ‘educated’ humans long deemed impossible. Topology and geometry – the dual mathematical disciplines of form – have cascaded over the past two centuries into a series of intellectual revelations that had been physically understood in the organic realm since the Silurian age. Through an exploration of embodied knowledge in humble, sessile and brainless beings at the edges of human consciousness, this paper aims towards a rehabilitation of material wisdom, suggesting a radical, transformative alternative to modern symbolic modes.’ Margaret Wertheim, The Hyperbolic Imaginary: Topology and Geometry as Bodily Being.

This keynote conversation will be followed by a seminar led by Bernard Burgoyne on 28 January 2012. ‘The Edges of the World are constituted around pathways and contours, which grasp the spatial neighbourhoods involved in everyday life. These spaces embody the pathways or disconnections with which people are intimately engaged. They constitute the way in which spatial realities are at play in the determination of people’s lives: alternative pathways can often be found through such an enveloping space.’ Bernard Burgoyne 

Ernesto Neto is a contemporary visual artist. He lives and works in Rio de Janeiro and has established over the past 20 years an international reputation for his work. In 2001 Neto represented Brazil in the Venice Biennale. In 2010, he had three major exhibitions, The Edges of the World at the Hayward Gallery, London; a survey exhibition, Intimacy, at Astrup Fearnley Museet for Moderne Kunst, Oslo and Dengo at the Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo, Brazil. He was commissioned for his largest installation to date at the Park Avenue Armory, New York, in 2009. Other notable shows include Leviathan Thot, Panthéon, 35th Festival d'Automne, Paris, 2006 (solo); Ernesto Neto -The Malmö Experience, Malmö Konsthall, Malmo, Sweden, 2006 (solo). In 2007, he spent six months in Atelier Calder Foundation, Saché, France on an artist residency. In 2003, Ernesto along with two other artists, Marcio Botner and Laura Lima, founded a contemporary art gallery, called A Gentil Carioca which is located in downtown Rio. He is preparing a retrospective exhibition at MARCO, México, which opens on December 8th 2011. 

Dr Luiz Alberto Oliveira is Researcher at the Institute of Cosmology, Relativity and Astrophysics (ICRA-BR), Brazilian Center for Physical Research (CBPF/MCTI), Rio de Janeiro; Lecturer in History and Philosophy of Science, CBPF; Associate Researcher, Transdisciplinary Program of Advanced Studies (IDEA), School of Communication, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro; Invited Lecturer, Oscar Niemeyer Office of Architecture; Scientist in residence, Dynamical Encounters International Art Workshops; and Curator, Museum of Tomorrow of Rio de Janeiro City (in development). 

Éric Alliez, is Professor of Contemporary French Philosophy at the CRMEP, Kingston University, London and Professor of Philosophie et Créations Contemporaines en Art at the University of Paris 8. His works in English translation include: Capital Times (preface by G. Deleuze), 1997; The Signature of the World. Or What is the Philosophy of Deleuze and Guattari?, 2005; Capitalism and Schizophrenia and Consensus. Of Relational Aesthetics, 2010; The Guattari Effect (edited with A. Goffey), 2011. His recent works are focused on a problematisation of aesthetics: La Pensée-Matisse, 2005; L’Œil-Cerveau. Nouvelles Histoires de la peinture moderne, 2007. Forthcoming: Défaire l’image. De l’art contemporain. 

Margaret Wertheim is a writer and curator whose work focuses on the intersection of science and the wider cultural landscape. She is the author of The Pearly Gates of Cyberspace: A History of Space from Dante to the Internet. Margaret and her sister Christine co-founded the Los Angeles-based Institute For Figuring, an organisation dedicated to the poetic and aesthetic dimensions of science and mathematics. The IFF’s Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef is the largest participatory science/art project in the world.

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