[ISEA2013] Paper: Joanna Hoffman-Dietrich – Hidden Topology of Being: Life and Space


Key words: art & science, space, life, spatial thinking, multidimensionality, biomolecules,

The phenomenon of life has many definitions. Today it is usually identified with the processes of preserving and transferring information/knowledge. However life can be also interpreted, paraphrasing S. Semotiuk’s words, as the way in which space exists, and vice versa; space might be treated as the way in which life exists. This definition implies the comprehension of “an individual existence” as an integral fragment of its micro & macro environment as well as of the time-space continuum. Thus it locates its parameters at heart of the rich history of the human culture, grounded on the diversity and changes in the spatio-temporal apprehension of our reality.

I would like to ground my reflection on the series of artworks inspired by the structure and dynamics of protein molecules. My interest in this organic compound started already during the art&science residency at the KHOJ/ International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology in New Delhi in 2007 (followed by the residency at CEMA/National Centre for Biological Sciences in Bangalore and other collaborations). This “basic brick of life” contains lots of secrets which we still cannot fully understand; from tetrahedron shape of covalent bonds characteristic for the organic matter (and reminding us about Pythagorean roots of the geometrisation of the Western Knowledge) till the folding topology of protein chains resembling “Calabi-Yau manifolds”( geometrical forms in which, according to the superstring theory, successive dimensions “curled up” on a subatomic scale). In the culture, as McLuhan asserted, the medium is the message, in nature the structure is the message. However we need various media and methods to discover it.
In my talk I would like to reflex on how science, humanities and cultural imageries influence each other in shaping our understanding and knowledge and how technology modulates these relations.

  • Joanna Hoffman-Dietrich, University of Arts, Poznan, Poland

Full text (PDF) p. 457-460