"Chaos might be the new world order"
James Marti, 1991

The desperate attempt to conceal the complexity of our conflict-plagued world with simplistic dualisms, such as the axes of "Bad" and of "Good", cannot prevent any reasonable human being from perceiving our social, political, cultural and economic universe as a chaotic one. As a matter of fact, strategists who strive to shape the nebulous and inauspicious future of humankind are acutely aware of this fact: acknowledging that most social phenomena in our world cannot be perceived as obeying to a more or less linear logic, they investigate alternative modeling methods based on a wide range of non-linear approaches, such as evolution and chaos theories. As Gottfried Mayer-Kress notes1, any attempt to understand the complex dynamics of our world through linear models "compare to the story of a person who looks for the lost car keys under a street lamp because it is too dark to see anything at the place where the keys were lost". This may very well imply that those who try forecast and, are eventually willing to shape several aspects of mankind's future, act as contemporary apprentice diviners who have less than limited knowledge of their "m?tier". I am sure that most of us have already met or sensed the consequences of this.

Based on these facts, it has become obvious to me that any attempt to perceive "Art as a scene of global conflicts" should take into consideration the complexity and chaotic structure of contemporary conflicts, where the famous question of Lorenz "Does the Flap of a Butterfly's Wings in Brazil set off a Tornado in Texas?" cannot be but true, as demonstrated by many examples both in history and in every day life's reality. Understanding this complexity requires us to realize that everything is connected and related to everything, forming a reality that cannot be easily modeled neither explicitly forecasted nor understood through traditional mainstream rational thinking.

KAOStrax is a conceptual attempt to let its viewers experience complexity and chaos within the context of global interdependence, where everything relates to everything, where the consequences of a "butterfly's fly" are neither predetermined nor random. In the microcosm of the visual environment of KAOStrax chaos reigns: whatever you see is created and evolves in real time, motioned by V-motion, a computer program - model developed especially for this project by John (Terra1) Dikaiakos, based on the concatenation2 of four instances of the logistic equation3 (also known as "Life equation") operating beyond their bifurcation point. As inputs to the V-motion mathematical engine are used:

Bifurcation diagram of the logistic equation

  • A series of selected images depicting various key actors, scenes and human beings from contemporary conflicts
  • An original music remix created by the Studio 19 team (Costas Bokos and Vassilis Kountouris)4
  • Viewer's intentional (through the use of a MIDI keyboard) and unintentional (her/his image captured by a camera) interaction

V-motion's chaotic mathematical/software engine transforms this already complex input to the final visual result, handling, in real time, image sequencing, transforms, mixing, and application of visual effects. Since the mathematic model used yields chaotic (but not random)5 results, each image displayed on the screen is unique and the probabilities of duplication are virtually inexistent.

So, within the KAOStrax multimedia environment, the viewer experiences the behavior of a complex chaotic system, fed by emotionally charged global conflict images and sound, while she/he becomes part of it, thus substantiating that everything is connected and related to everything within the work's microcosm. As far as its purpose is concerned, the KAOSTrax microcosm is meant neither to declare something nor to conceal anything, but to signify6. I hope that its audience will accept this as a sufficient intention from an artist.

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  1. Gottfried Mayer-Kress: Messy Futures and Global Brains, at http://www.santafe.edu/~gmk/MFGB?MFGB.html.

  2. This means that the output of the first equation is fed as input to the second one, etc.

  3. A very simple practical formula used to approximate the evolution of an animal population over time. Its form is f(x) = rx (1 - x). For values of r exceeding 3, it shows typical chaotic behavior. For an extensive analysis see at http://hypertextbook.com/chaos/42.shtml

  4. For the videotaped demo, I have used a remix of music by Matmos, Demetrio Stratos and a sample from Steve Reich's "It's gonna rain". In the final work, the music remix created by Studio 19 will be used.

  5. Gottfried Mayer-Kress in the above mentioned paper sets a clear methodology for discriminating chaos from randomness. In examining the predictability among chaotic and random systems, he states that chaos exhibits "finite, short term" predictability, while randomness exhibits no predictability.
    In V-motion, the "finite, short-term" predictability is confined within the ultra-fast mathematical engine cycles. So, conceptually, V-motion shows a capital conceptual difference with a randomly working system: if you could act fast enough you could make short-term finite predictions on what is to be displayed.

  6. From Heraclitus (Fragmenta 404 D): "The King whose oracle is in Delphi neither reveals nor conceals but signifies".

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