2001 Conference (May 27-29)

Vancouver, B.C. Canada

Louis H. Kauffman

PLAYSHOP: Sign and Space




In this playshop we will work together in constructing a point of view in which space and signs are seen to be the same (or two sided of the same coin). Space is neccessary for the production of signs and signs are neccessary for the articulation of space. This fundamental issue is at the basis of much of cybernetics in the second order mode (such as Heinz von Foerster's Objects as Tokens for Eigenbehaviours), in the study of social and biological space and in topology, quantum physics and relativity as well. In order to experience the fall of the boundary between sign and space it is useful to cross that boundary back and forth.

For this purpose this playshop will use the experimental devices of ropes, knot tying and knot illusions, soap films that span knots in beautiful singular surfaces, and the interactive graphics of the blackboard, pencil and paper that wraps upward into space as the paper is folded, bent and stapled or otherwise fastened to itself. In the course of traversing these boundaries nearly all the fundamental issues in Spencer-Brown's Laws of Form come forth in a geometric mode. In the last part of the playshop we will work with this aspect and in tandem with Christina Weiss we will play with the philosophy and the iconics of logical notation from Boole to Venn to Frege to Russell to Peirce to Spencer-Brown to Pask and to the present day. The theme is how meaning arises in the interaction of the spatial and the symbolic.


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