Philip Franses and Mike Wride of Global Synapses work with images in a variety of settings. The dynamic nature of reality becomes evident as soon as we pay attention to the sequence in which things happen. The cards are not simple idle snapshots, following causal laws. We find there is meaning in the way stories tell themselves!
‘In The Experiment as Mediator Between Object and Subject, Goethe describes a “series of experiments that border on one another closely and touch each other directly; and which indeed, if one knows them all exactly and surveys them, constitute as it were a single experiment. . . .” He regarded this care to connect the “closest to the closest” as an experimental analog of mathematical deduction, which “on account of its deliberateness and purity reveals every leap into assertion.”’ ( Read more here)
“Was it Henri Bortoft who used the word mean as a verb [as in] it means. It arrives at coherence. Meaning is the apprehension, the meeting of coherence.” (Alex Blaines during Chaos and Complexity module MSc Holistic Science 2015-16).
In the card snapshots below we can use Goethe’s method to join the “closest to the closest” to find the assertion of the picture they paint together. How to bring what seems a random collection of images into a single sense?
The example of the Awesome Zoom game is from the book The Awesome Zoom We are in a story of different snapshots of an adventure and work out how they fit in a whole story. Try out our image sequencer below.
What meaning does it tell you? What do we find in sequencing these cards? If you have time, move cards with the mouse and see if you can sequence them into their natural order.Try to find the story of the rocket and the rooster yourself. Otherwise click button Deal in Order! to show them in their finished order!
“I feel like we’ve been in this classroom for weeks talking about meaning and wholeness and in a way this was putting our ability as a group to work on matter to make meaning out of it. We haven’t worked together on an actual material riddle and this was just that.” (Titiane Haton, MSc class comment 2015.)
Our students on the Complexity and Chaos course uncovered the sequence as a group. Each student had two cards, which they could not show the others but could only describe.
Read the process of the classroom arriving at the whole story here
Birthing a Story
The next example is from the world of biology. Again move the cards with the mouse and see if you can sequence them into their natural order.
Otherwise click button Deal in Order! to see the whole process!
The images are Zebrafish embryos showing stages in development that come from the paper: Kimmel et al Stages of embryonic development of the zebrafish Dev Dyn. 1995 Jul;203(3):253-310.
GLOBAL SYNAPSES works through stages of development bringing together pulses at the periphery of possibility towards a centre of identity. This cycle of renewal is present all the time in Nature, illustrating the organic form of our enterprise. Below is the example of the slime mould that forms out of individual amoebae.”
Although there is a general applicability of the slime mould example, there is a lack of understanding of how directed coherence arises from such a dramatic disturbance of dis-equilibrium from normal behaviour. Goethe’s method of Exploratory Experimentation (Exploratory Experimentation: Goethe, Land, and Color Theory) uncovers feats of organisation of cells and amoebae (which we humans can learn from and apply ) that seem as inventive as the pattern of thoughts coming together in an insight.
Texts and pictures from Brian Goodwin (1990) Slime mould from Biology, Form and Function; Open University.
Assert your story
Global Synapses can adapt these card sequences to find the meaning in your own personal, organisational or cultural story.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org! to learn how we can help!
For more background, read Philip Franses and Mike Wride Goethean Pedagogy