A “Work of Art”

August 27, 2010

Ive been an artist and designer all my life dabbling in drawing, paint, sculpture, animation, interaction, music, etc.., more recently turning to more traditional opposites of art, but have always found it interesting that I haven’t run into many other artists or designers who are really well read or care too much about complexity science or anything of the sort… normally the space tends to be filled with “scientists” and “engineers” of many sorts.

I think the idea of what art is, and what it means to be an artist may have something to do with this, so I found some good pages on Wikipedia covering some of these. I think it may come down to a simple notion that an artist (painter, sculptor, musician, actor, storyteller etc…) must become chaos and complexity while at the same time respecting and honoring complication and order, while scientists and engineers and managers I don’t think I have ever really heard them use language that they feel they must become the change, in order to no longer experience change… but moreso focus on employing principles from complexity or even art at a distance to achieve, to accomplish, to get somewhere, etc… But I may be a little too biased and over exaggerating or generalizing.


Art is the product or process of deliberately arranging symbolic elements in a way that influences and affects the senses, emotions, and/or intellect. It encompasses a diverse range of human activities, creations, and modes of expression, including music, literature, film, photography, sculpture, and paintings. The meaning of art is explored in a branch of philosophy known as aesthetics.

Point being that art comes from an individuals mind, and of an individuals mind, in an attempt to externalize some expression using sign patterns hoping to affect another individuals mind in a grand attempt to “bring them to movement”. While all along, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder…” (self-signification).

A “Work of Art”:

A little more subjective, but focused on what makes a “fine” art piece, which I may collapse down to simply whether it brought someone to movement, whether it moves people… even the artist himself.

The “Elements of Art”:

Texture, form, line, shape, value, color, etc… are what makes up a work of art. It is how they are patterned by an artist that create a piece which may bring others to movement upon viewing it and experiencing it.

The “Principles of Art”:

Unity, variety, balance, contrast, proportion, pattern, rhythm, etc… are the methods employed by the artist while arranging the elements in a particular fashion. These I believe would be most relevant to similar notions found in complexity science, particularly self-signification and pattern and rhythm.

So found throughout the ideas of art, there is an appreciation for the past and the future, as reflected in the work of art produced by any said artist, but there is a focus on bringing people to movement upon experience and reflection… a focus on instilling a desire, a passion, from the inside out… so that what may have previously seemed so chaotic or complex due to unshared states of mind, may now be reconciled and rallied into organization… like sending an electric current through the individuals, an energy, which works to align them… but not from the outside in but from the unknowable inside out.

“Sense-making” becomes less about trying to make sense of the outside world in any objective manner, and moreso about instilling a state of mind so that particular outside worlds can emerge in certian ways as perceived by yourself and others. Group sense-making becomes more about shared states of mind, rather than shared knowledge of a system… because when there is a shared state of mind, the necessary and relevant elements of a system will emerge allowing the group to move in unison… not because of external initiatives being employed, but because of an intrinsic shared state of signification.

How does this relate to companies, or data models, or countries, or simple friendships and other relationships?

We have spent so much time trying to externalize what the company is in the form of rules and policies and contracts and communication packages and roles and titles and such, that there isn’t much left inside of the individuals… under the assumption that this leads to greater security and such… but there needs to be a reclamation on the part of the individuals… looking to startup companies, and cultures that do not have a written language and cannot read or write may aid us in this process.

Constructs should work like art. They should bring us to movement… and then we should accept its demise down the top 40 charts as we have moved on, and so has it.

The minute you feel something needs to be clarified or written down or agreed upon, you should already be aware you are entering dangerous waters… where more energy will be spent on maintenance and support of structure, thinking that it is the structure that gives you significance rather than your providing the structure with significance.

We need to be creating works of art, movements.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Posts

About the Cynefin Company

The Cynefin Company (formerly known as Cognitive Edge) was founded in 2005 by Dave Snowden. We believe in praxis and focus on building methods, tools and capability that apply the wisdom from Complex Adaptive Systems theory and other scientific disciplines in social systems. We are the world leader in developing management approaches (in society, government and industry) that empower organisations to absorb uncertainty, detect weak signals to enable sense-making in complex systems, act on the rich data, create resilience and, ultimately, thrive in a complex world.

Cognitive Edge Ltd. & Cognitive Edge Pte. trading as The Cynefin Company and The Cynefin Centre.


< Prev
Next >


- No Comments

Hello, it's a pleasure to be Guest Blogger here on the Cognitive Edge site! To ...

More posts

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram