Category Archives: –biosemiotics

PopMatters: Sean Miller interviews VN Alexander

popmattersArtificial intelligence is all the rage these days. Case in point: while I was watching football this past weekend, there were two television commercials in heavy circulation during the games that featured AI avatars—Siri and Watson—having life-like conversations with actors.

As you may know, I have a few opinions about the prospects and limitations of AI. Recently, I had an email chat with novelist and philosopher of science Victoria Alexander about AI, art, and chance. Alexander’s work focuses on the uses of chance in nature and in fiction and the changing conceptions of chance in science, religion, and art. What follows has been lightly edited for clarity. Continue reading

How can art and science interact meaningfully?

Based on a talk at the Leonardo Art and Science Rendezvous (LASER) meeting in NYC on April 12, 2014, Victoria N Alexander, PhD discusses how art can benefit science through a biosemiotic perspective. This is the second video in the “Science, Art and Biosemiotics” series, produced and directed by Lucian Rex

 

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Victoria N Alexander speaking at NY LASER 4/12/14

laserNY LASER, a Leonardo Education and Art Forum (LEAF) Rendezvous Event
What: Wine + discussion
Where: LevyArts: RSVP for info   info@dactyl.org
When: Saturday, April 12th from 4:00 – 7:00 pm

NYC LASER is a series of lectures and presentations on art and science projects, organized on behalf of Leonardo/ISAST’s LEAF initiative (Leonardo Education and Art Forum).  Former LEAF Chairs Ellen Levy and Patricia Olynyk co-organize these presentations, and Ellen Levy hosts them on behalf of the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts.  There will be three feature presentations by Victoria N. Alexander, Lillian Ball, and Norman Ballard.
 
Victoria N. Alexander is director and co-founder of Dactyl Foundation, whose mission is to “bring the arts into the sciences and the sciences into the arts.”  She earned her Ph.D. in English at CUNY Grad and her dissertation research focused on teleology, evolutionary theory, and complexity science at the Santa Fe Institute.  She is a novelist (Smoking Hopes, Naked Singularity, Trixie and Locus Amœnus) and is on the editorial boards of Biosemiotics journal (Springer Press) and Meaning Systems book series (Fordham UP). Alexander’s talk will address the creative process from a biosemiotic perspective and is based on her 2011 book The Biologist’s Mistress: Rethinking Self-Organization in Art, Literature and Nature.
Lillian Ball Lillian Ball is an ecological artist and environmental activist working primarily on water issues. A multidisciplinary background in anthropology, ethnographic film, and sculpture informs her work. She has exhibited internationally and her awards include a John-Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship and a National Endowment for the Arts Grant.  Her recent WATERWASH® public art project series combines stormwater remediation, wetland restoration, and educational outreach in a creative concept that can be adapted to coastal situations worldwide. Lillian will discuss transforming scientific data collected on WATERWASH by Drexel University Environmental Engineering Department into a reflective artwork.
Norman Ballard is an award winning innovator in the use of Laser technology and motion control ‘rayography’ as an artistic medium in the visual and performing arts.   His presentation  ‘Laser: The Ecology of a New Medium’, will reflect on his exploration of the emergent path of this technology and its ongoing cultural assimilation.  He will discuss his breakthrough work over the past 3 decades driving the ascendancy of the laser medium into galleries and collections of fine art museums worldwide, as well as its extension to his current position as Development Coordinator for Production Automation at the Metropolitan Opera supporting its current Production Department Renovation and Technology Upgrade initiative.

The Science of Making Choices

What happens in your body when you choose to go right or left?  What makes your choices? your Self? What does the word “choice” really mean?

VN Alexander, PhD discusses the science of making choices from a complexity science-biosemiotics perspective. From “Science, Art and Biosemiotics” series, produced and directed by Lucian Rex.

To read more about this topic see The Biologist’s Mistress: Rethinking Self-Organization in Art, Literature and Nature. 

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The Biologist’s Mistress

My new non-fiction title, The Biologist’s Mistress: Rethinking Self-Organization in Literature, Art, and Nature, has been released by Emergent Publications. Last year, I tried to distinguish myself from popular Harlequin Romance writer Victoria Alexander by changing my novel-writing pen name to Tori Alexander.  But I kept Victoria N. Alexander for my philosophy of science work, assuming that I ran no risk of being confused with Victoria Alexander on that front. A couple of months ago, I wrote to a colleague in Denmark telling him that my new book, Biologist’s Mistress, would be released soon.  He wrote back quickly saying that he had ordered my book from Amazon, but strangely the title (by Victoria Alexander) in Denmark had been translated into the “Perfect Mistress.”

I suppose there’s no avoiding one’s Doppelgänger.

My title, by the way, references a quote attributed to 20th C geneticist J. B. S. Haldane, “Teleology is like a mistress to the biologist; he dare not be seen with her in public but cannot live without her.”

Please take a look at the book’s website www.biologistsmistress.com, and get a copy too!

Biosemiotics: Discussion with Don Favareau

Philosopher Don Favareau explains “biosemiotics,” the new paradigm for  scientists and philosophers grappling with the concepts of “meaning,” “signaling,” and “coding” in biological processes–and in culture. Click here to listen to BBC radio broadcast featuring Don.

Biosemiotics is an area of science that informs my work in philosophy, as described in my forthcoming non-fiction work, The Biologist’s Mistress: Rethinking Self-Organization in Art, Literature, and Nature. But it also informs my creative writing, especially the short story collection I’m currently writing, The Narrative: and Other Stories, which focuses on how things become signs through poetic and chance associations. Continue reading

Teleology revisited

Teleology is the study of the purposes of action, development and existence. Its practitioners believe nature is purposeful. An ancient and enduring form of inquiry that has been out-of-fashion among educated people for centuries, teleology’s slow, steady decline as a scientific discipline began in the 17th century with the birth of modern empiricism and continued to plummet apace with the rise of the Enlightenment, Darwinism, and quantum mechanics. Nature is not purposeful, it was said, and those who continued to think it was were primarily spiritualists, artists, or madmen, who credited the guidance of gods, muses, or fate. Continue reading