Microbes in The Desert of The Real – The Simple and The Complex

Screenshot 2024-06-12 at 13.00.47 copy

Microbes offer an interesting way into complexity. Their small size and the fact that they are everywhere connects them to other complex systems and their influence cannot be understated. Without microbes there would be no life on this planet, and small changes can have profound consequences for other interconnected complex systems.

The world is full of unknown unknowns and to help us sort all of this out and extend our knowledge increasingly complex computer programs are being used.  But there is a problem with this. As computer models or simulations become increasingly complex they also become harder to understand. This is referred to as Bonini’s paradox.

French poet Paul Valéry wrote: “If it’s simple, it’s always false. If it’s not, it’s unusable.” It is important to be able to simplify ideas without losing the complexities underpinning them, but how do we do that?

A group of artists (from dance, music and visual art) and researchers from multiple disciplines are investigating these questions together. They organise workshops and public event around Europe since 2023 and participate in other Vision Forum projects like Perplexity: Meetings in Art and Science. The public presentation include both artistic performances that takes its inspiration from microbes and their complexity and scientific talks that relate to the subject matter.

Recent meetings have taken place in Sweden and Belgium and more are planned for the near future. The project is supported by Kulturbryggan in Stockholm and Helge Ax:son Johnsons stiftelse.