The Neo Fourth Dimension Concept. A new perspective

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Overview The long-awaited new edition of a groundbreaking work on the impact of alternative concepts of space on modern art. Show More. Average Review. Write a Review. Related Searches. Dimensionism: Modern Art in the Age of Einstein. The first book to document how artists of the early twentieth century responded to new The first book to document how artists of the early twentieth century responded to new scientific conceptions of reality.

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Knowledge Representation. Growing interest in symbolic representation and reasoning has pushed this backstage activity into the spotlight This could even be seen in everyday life in a single train, in which passengers of the first and third classes clashed. The depiction of this social problem can be easily be found when we compare some paintings that refer to different wagon classes.

In their portrayal of social antagonisms on a train, the artists subtly differentiate between various facets of the impact of speed on social life in modern industrial society during the age of railway. For this reason we find in their artistic stances both approval and criticism. Additionally, the difference between slowness in the age of mail coach and speed in the age of railway became a frequent artistic subject.

At times, the technical progress in connection with social changes was welcomed, as we can see in works by Paul Meyerheim [13] fig. In Messerschmidt's works, the mail coach became the symbol of a nostalgic yearning, and an idyllic ideal of the slow speed in the mobility of pre-industrial times. Albert Einstein's development of the special and the general theory of relativity brought about the crisis of the idea of space from the fact that now space and time became a unity so that space now no longer inhabited an objective dimension.

In the light of this, architecture, the art of space, was in a critical condition because its former absolute parameters, such as statics and aesthetics, appeared to be fundamentally questioned.


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Instead, speed and light replaced Newton's system of time and space, [15] and modern architects were attracted by those ideas. For this reason, the depiction of the moment of speed and mobility became one of the favourite motifs for avant-garde architects in order to be able to reflect on mobility emphasizing the relativity of their structure's location.

For instance, Taut's designs attempted to liberate his buildings from the traditional idea of representation in the era of emperor Wilhelm II. Instead, the architect created the crystal house, the glass industry's exhibition pavilion at the Werkbund -exhibition of at Cologne. The principal theme as well as the element responsible for the setting-of-scene was light.

Taut's building was a major contribution to light-kinetic experiments and his pavilion became a template for later buildings. This element of design reached its emotional peak in Albert Speer's temporary installation Light-domes fig. Here even time and space were visually melted with the help of light-kinetic principles. Erich Mendelssohn's astrophysical observatory, the Einstein tower in Potsdam, [17] with its metaphorical form, also served to show the aspects of the theory of relativity in an experimental way. For this reason he tried to visualize the idea that "mass is only a kind of concentrated energy," [18] thus developing the neo-technical style.

Its "functional dynamic" was influenced by his knowledge of machines and superior technology, and Mendelssohn used this kinetic principle as a model of mobility in transforming it into architecture. In this way, he could display kinetic energy or "the violence of speed" within the building itself. Through the formal adaptation of the submarine shape, a very special means of transport, he aimed at "the building's mobility," and by means of its streamlined, aerodynamic shape he aimed at an experiential moment of mobility.

This is a symbolic reference to the architectural function as an office for shipping companies in the seaport of Hamburg, where the ocean liner building is anchored. Meanwhile, new means of transport were becoming common and so mobility was constantly accelerating. The employment of cars, [21] luxury steam liners, [22] aircraft, [23] zeppelins, [24] subways, [25] suburban lines [26] and trams [27] gradually transformed daily life.

In comparison with a statement by John Stuart Mill in in his book Outlines of Political Economy , "Production has the same meaning, as movement," through the revolution in transport the meaning of this sentence was finally reversed, because movement or mobility became more and more a part of production itself. It is not surprising that reflections of this development can also be found in the arts. Thus the age of railway experienced its historical peak, but in order to show up the benefits of this traffic system in comparison with others, there was also a need for a publicity campaign, because the railway had to prove all its advantages under the condition of a permanent competition with other means of traffic.

Intensive publicity campaigns with posters were launched where the pleasures of mobility, the thrill of speed and the comfort of travelling held pride of place.

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This can be seen, for instance, in a series of posters by Adolphe Mouron-Cassandre b. The age of railway came gradually to an end after the German fascists developed their utopian project of constructing a broad-gauge railway [20] in order to connect the European continent in a way that would link mobility with comfort. This cosiness and luxury in travelling suggests a settled mode of existence. It propagated a homelike ambience during the journey that emulated in its interior the immobile luxury that top hotels aspire to, despite the streamlined design of the broad-gauge train's exterior.

We find such a luxury of immobility also incorporated in the interior decoration of ocean liners [31] and in the gondolas of zeppelins [32] in order to provide the passenger with the feeling not that the passenger is moving but that the world is passing on the other side of the window.

The Fourth Dimension in Painting: Cubism and Futurism

The sensation of space and time became relative not only in the cosmos but also on the earth, the sea and in the air. Thus the depiction of movement, which in its expressions goes far beyond the common associations of symbolism, became an increasingly urgent task for avant-garde artists. Marcel Duchamp, for instance, caused a scandal at the Armory-Show in New York in with his painting A Nude Descending a Staircase by revolutionizing traditional modes of perception.

He started off with kinematic experiments derived from the still-novel cinema and in a cubist or futuristic manner used its special capability for showing successive sequences in the course of motion. The Italian Futurists had similar ambitions. They show the rhythm of a dynamics that is dominated by technical processes where an analytic deconstruction of shape is effected by vibrations of power lines.

The Futurists used this kind of expression in order to develop an art for the future that is able to display the current experience of life in an increasingly mobile society. Umberto Boccioni's sculpture Unique Forms of Continuity and his painting Dynamic of a Soccer Player , for instance, clearly show the power lines and areas of daily life motions in contrast to the flight painting "aeropittura" [34] in the second phase of futurism, which opened up a new perspective of space and time. Gerardo Dottori with his triptych Speed or Tullio Crali and others were among those artists who created examples of alarming vividness, taking their inspiration from experiences of aerial battles as well as from the thrill of speed in motor sports.

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Against this background it is no wonder that, in the area of architecture, utopias came into being in those years after World War I. Architects tried to satisfy the social need for permanently changeable locations with the idea of mobile cities or flying buildings, even though there were no technical or social prerequisites at hand for their realization. Wenzel Hablik was one of the pioneers with his dream of a colony in the air fig. This idea was re-used by Bodo Rasch in when he registered a patent for "a portable house made from tents filled with air.

But this trend to create mobile buildings was not just the fantasy of visionary architect-freaks whose science fiction utopias blossomed unrestrained. It was more of a reaction to the "phenomenon of de-urbanity," [37] those social and political crises of the city, which lost its geographical fixed location through the absolute mobility of its inhabitants in their permanent movement to and fro between place of residence, place of work and place of leisure. Vincenzo Fani Ciotti, called Volt, supplied the theoretical base for the futuristic annulment of the city in his manifesto La casa futurista , published in , where he wrote about the nomadic lifestyle of modern man: "The people of the future will refuse to live in houses which are rooted to the ground.

Their accommodations which are equipped with splendid engines will walk, cross over water and fly. The attempts at creating an aesthetics of mobility also progressed in the area of the fine arts during the second decade of the twentieth century, and this entailed a development towards a convincing depiction of the fourth dimension. This had become necessary in order to adapt to the increasing requirement for mobility caused by technical progress and changes in social life. For this reason experiments became important in their work, where the visibility of the new dimension of time but also of the acoustics and visual-spatial changeability of objects took up a central position in order to create kinetic art.

Marcel Duchamp's "bicycle-wheel" of , the first ready-made work of modern art, could be manually rotated in order to visualize translation by means of rotation. At the same time it manifested the cubistic principles of poly-perspective and simultaneity of a single object where place and time were interwoven. It was not only the interest in the depiction of a concrete motion that was a subject of kinetic art: Alexander Calder's 'mobiles' balanced the elements of gravity in their multi-dimensional and simultaneously occurring motions within an organic system of mobility, while reacting to environmental influences, such as a gentle breeze.

But Robert Delaunay's paintings stress the momentum of colors by the fact that his pictures are based on revolving circles of similar shades. In this way his paintings provide an analogy to machines and technology.

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In addition, Naum Gabo's or Anton Pevsner's kinetic sculptures develop rhythms of motion and energies of space as vibrant and curved shapes that stride across space and time in order to lend shape to the fourth dimension. World and space became smaller with every rocket launch and every intercontinental flight. Now the process of globalization was connected with a revolution in telecommunication [41] that unrestrainedly charted its own course.

Finally, we have arrived at the global village where the difference between place and time seems to be so irrelevant so that production can be easily transferred to every place without taking into consideration the factor of time and is reduced to the ambition of making the utmost profit. Modernity was the expression of a highly developed industrial society in art and culture. If the translation in the intersection becomes recurrent, the interaction may increasingly develop systemic properties. Using a biological metaphor, one may think of sexual reproduction.

Society, however, has the option to develop systems of translation that exhibit recurrent systemness without directly observable stabilization. Emergence of systemness from interaction. For example, ongoing translations between national systems have developed measurable systemness at the European level in some dimensions, but not in others Leydesdorff Translation can only be achieved between sufficiently different systems. Sub-integration has in common with integration that it presupposes differentiation.

At the level of the complex social system, differentiation and translation are structurally coupled as a second j and third dimension k of the uncertainty. Adaptation of the stabilizing institutional arrangements can thus be considered as another sub-dynamic of the complex system. The institutional layer provides the retention mechanism of processes of social learning, while institutions remain the social dimension of function systems cf.

Luhmann In summary: distributed action by different observers generates uncertainty in a first dimension. If a translation is locally understood, the initial action is provisionally stabilized since the signal can be re-written. In a fourth dimension of the uncertainty some of these stabilizations are recursively selected for globalization. In this context, globalization means sub-integration of the system at a next level through a series of translations. Emergence as a systemic property. The order of this global hyper-cycle is continuously under construction, and therefore remains necessarily emergent.

The observer participates in the reconstruction by being reflexive. Note the difference between hyper-cyclic sub-integration and integration at the institutional level: the latter is historically embedded. Sub-integration, however, remains sub-symbolic since it fails to be. One is able to provide it with meaning from a locally reflexive context. All functionally differentiated sub-systems can recursively use their system of reference as a code for sub-integration.

In a regime of translations, integration no longer takes place at a center, as in a stratified society, but in a distributed mode cf. Gibbons et al. The social system is implied, but only its instantiations and trajectories can be observed. Thus, one should never reify the social system, e. In other words, social systems do not exist in the strong sense of the Latin verb esse. One is in need of a different ontology for understanding social systems as distributions of expectations: peaks in the distributions can be considered as identities from a reflexive perspective, and hypotheses concerning social systems can be formulated on this basis.

Hypotheses direct the observations, and thus function as heuristics in scientific research. However, the social system is then no longer empiristically available for observation in terms of action or at the institutional level, as in structural functionalism or neo-institutionalism. The consequences of this epistemological shift pervade the logic of reasoning. In second-order systems theory, statements using predicates can no longer be made without generating paradoxes Luhmann Yet, the context may be codified into one or another sociology; cf.

Leydesdorff a. They, too, remain expectations that can be deconstructed reflexively. However, before turning to this consequence, let me provide the reader with a metaphor for a system of translations. Imagine a system of translations among natural languages such as may occur at a meeting of a European organization in Brussels.

In each of the boxes for interpreters, two or more European languages are simultaneously translated. The system of translations at the level of society, however, is decreasingly based on national differentiation. National differentiation has been correlated to differences among national languages, while functional differentiation is associated with differences among codes in the communication.

Adjustments are made with hindsight and according to the functional logic of an emerging system. A Tower of Babel-like confusion of tongues becomes the normal state of this system, and reflexively all sub-systems have continuously to update their dictionaries. The system of translations has gained an independent function among the function systems as it sub-integrates the system.

Fragmentation and poly-contexturality are constitutive for this post-modern regime. The post-institutional perspective. The regime of translations is already an everyday experience in domains of society other than science. The European Union, for example, cannot be considered as a union like the United States; it is a system of translations which is gaining an autonomous momentum on the basis of interactions among the national systems on which it rests.

The progression may have been stronger in some areas of policy-making than in others. The example illustrates the capacity of the social system to develop new systemic layers internally on the basis of recurrent interactions as also illustrated in Figure Five above. The new layers can be expected to have different functions as they become increasingly codified.

The codification, however, is no longer unambiguous: it is an dynamic expectation in a variety of contexts. Therefore, codification can itself become distributed and poly-contextural. Each dimension is binary in the extremes, but it extends as a degree of freedom that may contain shades of grey. Let us now specify the model more fully. First, remember that selection is a negative feedback. If ten percent is selected, ninety percent is discarded. Thus, if the distribution is normal to begin with, we may obtain a skewed distribution after selection.

However, the result of two negative operations upon each other contains a positive term: some selections are selected for observable stabilization. In general, this positive result is at an order of magnitude smaller than the variation upon which it operates because there are two selections involved: translation is a form of communication, but it is a highly specific communication. The sign is expected to alternate between the even and the odd dimensions of the information because of the introduction of a minus-sign by each recursion of the selection. At first, selection is a negative feedback on the variation, as in the case of market clearing.

The positive feedforward in a next selection allows for stability and thus for observable trajectories. On the basis of a third layer of selections, the complex system incurs as a pending regime on its underlying sub-systems. The sub-dynamics inhibit one another as negative feedbacks: noise is continuously filtered out.

The stabilizations can be considered as the institutions on which the regime of translation builds new functions. The institutions have been selected socially because of their service in the reproduction of the communication. However, one can expect them to be changed, since they are entrained in the further developments like the trajectories of a regime. I follow Luhmann in defining the social system as the system of inter-human communication, while, in my opinion, other forms of irreflexive communication are also possible Latour Human communication is evolutionarily based on the possibility of distinguishing between meaningful information and uncertainty.

The social system provides us with codes that can be processed reflexively, so that an uncertainty can be reconstructed and then communicated while suppressing the noise. Precisely because we are able to communicate our reflections, we do no longer need to follow our instincts. Hitherto, human agency has been the sole source of variation at this level of reflexive discourse cf. Leydesdorff Code is selective at the network level: some actions are provided with meaning by the social system, while others are not. This may be different from various perspectives as the code becomes differentiated during cultural evolution.

Different meanings can be translated into each other by using reflexive agency at distributed nodes of the network. In summary: agency generates the variation; constructed and therefore uncertain codes at the network level select specific actions as communications; and the distribution adapts itself to interactions among codes in the institutional layer. Structural, operational, and loose coupling. Let me use the model of a standard social science design for formalizing the increase of complexity in terms of distinguishable forms of coupling between systems.

In a social science methodology, like in SPSS, the rows of the matrix are considered as actions attributed to the actors.

The Fourth Dimension

The columns represent the variables or communications among the actors. The two dimensions of this matrix e. However, the dynamics of each system, that is, the action system and the communication network, are different because they refer to the previous states of these systems in terms of the total of their respective variations. The total variation is by definition equal to the co-variation and the remaining variation. The two systems condition each other in the remaining variation.

Two dimensions in this case, action and communication coupled like the rows and columns of a matrix are said to be structurally coupled: operation in one dimension necessarily has an effect on the other which constitutes its environment. In terms of the matrix representation, a cell value is changed that affects a row and a column locally. As noted, communication between a sender and a receiver requires transmission of the signal by the network between them, and thus communicat ing systems i.

The recursive selections, however, operate in substantively different layers. Codification of the communication along the column vectors of the communications , self-organizes the system by adding another reflexive selection when grouping the communications. The distribution of previous reflections of interactive events is then reconstructed, yet hyper-reflexively. In a biological system this degree of freedom is functionally geared towards survival and reproduction Maturana However, a social system of inter-human communication contains one more degree of freedom, since the participants are able to reflect on what they observe and the reflections can also be communicated.


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  • Consequently, this system is only loosely coupled in principle: it has an internal degree of freedom for adjusting its own further development cf. Simon While human cognition is biologically constrained, social learning can develop itself as a cultural evolution on top of the biological evolution. In other words, a self-organizing system feeds back on its instantiations and their trajectories, and it is able to reorganize its past with hindsight and selectively in terms of new recombinations.

    However, there is no center of control, since the actions on which the system rests are distributed. Control emerges; the system can only sub-control with hindsight, that is, based on suppression by selection. The system has to select continuously because it is disturbed by a multitude of lower-level interactions. If the channels of communication were to become overburdened, integration might fail, and the system would experience crises in its reproduction.

    The hyper-cyclic social system, however, can increase its complexity without being delimited by biological constraints, since it couples only operationally and not structurally to the biological layer. This quote from Marx Communist Manifesto , illustrates that Marx as a philosopher had already grasped this evolutionary dynamics of modern society Berman While Ricardo and Malthus had a notion of naturally given limitations, Marx entertained a dialectic notion of the relation between nature and culture. In his opinion, the dynamics of society would dialectically be confined because this evolution would eventually self-generate its own crises.

    The ensuing tensions between Capital and Labour would have to be resolved in a single, global solution. Because society is not biological, it is not inherently limited in its extension, and it is not necessarily confined by its natural environment. Thus, society needs no resolution; on the contrary, it needs further differentiation in order to be able to operate in terms of recurrent communications.