[ISEA2011] Paper: Sara Franceschelli – Dynamic Landscapes


In every day language the term “landscape” has several acceptations. The most obvious are perhaps the ones referring to landscape as an expanse of scenery that can be seen in a single view: a desert landscape, for example, or a picture, or an artistic representation depicting this expanse of scenery. In this paper, however, I’m using another acceptation of landscape – I will not consider a material landscape or its image, but an abstract one, emerging from contemporary scientific research. Nevertheless it also concerns vision: it is a mental picture offering a theoretical view on systems of interacting agents in an environment.

From the theory of evolution to embryology and statistical physics, the ”landscape” metaphor – qualified as “adaptive”, “epigenetic”, or “energetic”, depending on the domains under consideration – presents a characteristic shape defined by peaks, pits, and cols, and synthetically captures several essential questions for the modelling of complex systems :

What are the nature and the evolution of equilibria that characterise the landscape? How is their stability characterised? And their robustness? What is the effect on a landscape of different kinds of disturbances or interactions with the environment? At what spatiotemporal scales is it suitable to situate such analyses and investigations? What are the variables that are represented by the landscape? In what space do they live?

In this paper I will illustrate how, on the basis of a  structural (albeit dynamical) interpretation of the figure of landscape, this set of questions can be taken as an agenda for a performative design research program, DynLan, lead at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs, Paris.

  • Dr. Sara Franceschelli, Ecole Normale Superieure de Lyon & Ecole Nationale Superieure des Arts Decoratifs, Paris, France. I’m a researcher working on the epistemology of dynamic and complex systems (associated professor at the Ecole Normale Superiere de Lyon). I also run a performative design research program, Dynlan, on the figure of landscape in contemporary science (ENSAD, Paris).

Full text (PDF) p.  840-845