Complexism and the Role of Evolutionary Art

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Galanter, Philip: Complexism and the Role of Evolutionary Art. In: Romero, Juan; Machado, Penousal: The Art of Artificial Evolution. Springer, Berlin, 2007, S. 311-332.



Artists have always learned from nature. A new generation of artists is adapting the very processes of life to create exciting new works. But art is more than the creation of objects. It is also a progression of ideas with a history and a correspondence to the larger culture.

The goal of this chapter is to take a step back from the details of the technology and the consideration of specific works, and to view evolutionary art in the broader context of all art. This kind of multidisciplinary discussion requires one to be multilingual, and this chapter will use the language of scientists, humanists, artists, and philosophers. While doing so we will quickly visit complexity science, postmodernism in the arts, and the conflict between the cultures of the humanities and the sciences.

With this as a backdrop, I will introduce a new approach I call complexism. Complexism is the application of a scientific understanding of complex systems to the subject matter of the arts and humanities. We will see that the significance of evolutionary art is that it takes complexism as both its method and content. Evolutionary art is a new kind of dynamic iconography: the iconography of complexism. And complexism offers nothing less than the reconciliation of the sciences and the humanities through a higher synthesis of the modern and the postmodern.

To a certain extent this chapter participates in the modernist tradition of the art manifesto. The art manifesto is a form of speculative writing where the artist-author posits a new revolutionary creative direction for a group of artists who share a set of common interests, as well as a new worldview that offers a radical break with the past. Writers of such manifestos have included Marinetti, Kandinsky, Schwitters, Moholy-Nagy, Gropius, Breton, and others[1].

Like other manifestos, this chapter includes forward-looking assertions about work not yet started let alone completed. I have tried to identify the more speculative parts of this chapter as being part of this complexist manifesto.

Extended Abstract


booktitle={The Art of Artificial Evolution},
series={Natural Computing Series},
editor={Romero, Juan and Machado, Penousal},
title={Complexism and the Role of Evolutionary Art},
url={ },
publisher={Springer Berlin Heidelberg},
author={Galanter, Philip},

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