At first glance, the natural world may seem chaotic and full of random events. Similarly, creative works by humans may seem to have no logic or basis in the world as we have experienced it. But as we investigate beyond the surface of things and observe, measure and describe phenomena carefully, order emerges.

We may first perceive that order as spatial, such as in growth rings of a tree or the spiral of a galaxy, but we also learn to read such patterns as dynamic events or structure in time. We may recognize expressions of this natural order in visual art, media art, sound composition or in literature.

In this program we will study order and disorder as it occurs both in natural phenomena and the creative works of people. We will see what we can learn about how order emerges over time and how humans perceive and express that order. We will approach this inquiry as artists, scientists and scholars, engaging in both creative expression and quantitative reasoning.

We will work on writing, drawing and math skills as we develop techniques of observation, measurement, documentation, analysis and description. We will practice animation, time-lapse, and motion analysis techniques to study and represent phenomena we have observed. We will use a variety of art media to explore shape and spatial relationships and audio recording and editing technology to capture, analyze and compose sounds. We will learn to describe patterns and change both in written and quantitative form and create mathematical and computer models based on the physical laws that shape them.

Part of our inquiry will focus on the differences between creative and quantitative representations. We will explore the limitations inherent in each approach and we will investigate the roles that abstraction and metaphor in science and art play in our understanding of reality. To that end, students will experiment with ways to apply the scientific principles they learn to creative projects, investigating the uses of metaphor, developing an understanding of realism, and exploring how repetition of simple patterns or motifs can build complex works. In the fall students will undertake a series of short assignments that explore these themes. In winter there will be time for longer research projects to investigate a particular question in more depth.

Many of our lectures, readings and seminar discussions will be about the history and theory of knowledge, as it relates to our subject. The diverse ways humans employ and recognize order and patterns are culturally and historically determined. We will therefore also explore the perception, interpretation and use of patterns in different cultures, both ancient and modern.