Polyphibianism: Evolving Transdisciplinarity into an Imaginary Organism of Living Knowledge
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Transdisciplinarity emerged from the urge to grasp the elusive knowledge in the most fertile zone in between and beyond disciplines that escapes even the most elaborate interdisciplinary operations. While interdisciplinary protocol enables experts to operate within foreign disciplines, in the extreme case as diverse as art and science (by inviting artists into scientific departments and vice versa), the production of knowledge remains confined to particular domains. To transcend these confinements and access the knowledge that evades institutionalisation Basarab Nicolescu’s Manifesto of Transdisciplinarity sets up conditions for an open structure to be grown outside the current compartmentalisation into a living knowledge. This thesis imagines a possible evolution of transdisciplinarity into knowledge to be lived internally rather than learnt externally in order to overcome the anxiety in transcending the established culture of disciplinary research. By entering the transdisciplinary zone, the identity of experts-specialists dissolves, even the crudest separation into artists and scientists becomes obsolete. From the illusion of losing control over knowledge arises the fear of a return to archaic, mystic or even shamanic ways of knowing. Far from proposing a return to shamanism in its ancient forms this thesis imagines the way of polyphibianism – an imaginary solution to navigate efficiently the protoplasmic state of knowledge that would be indigenous to culture of disciplinary researchers. With every significant discovery the disciplinary researchers already intuitively trespass into the very zone that the Manifesto of Transdisciplinarity invites them to enter intentionally. From examination of documented introspective inquiries into their act of discovery the thesis infers the necessary sensibilities and adaptabilities of the individuals to cross the borders of their disciplines. Their seemingly lost identity is temporarily restored with the term polyphibian (analogous to amphibian) designating their ability to survive and explore multiple environments. With each change of circumstances in research a polyphibian adapts by swiftly reinventing its instinctive instruments, mutating its organs of knowing, indifferently to conventional habits of thought. Through their introspective writings this thesis investigates the polyphibic aptitude of Henri Poincaré, Henri Bergson and Marcel Duchamp to scout at the periphery of physics, metaphysics and ‘pataphysics, to intuitively anticipate the role of chance, chaos and complexity in both arts and sciences. A threshold of complexity has to be surpassed in order to bring the current apparatus of knowledge to life. Bergson’s insight on laughter and dreams suggests how intellect could transcend itself. The thesis proposes to consider laughter as faculty that could induce self-awareness in the intellectual apparatus while dreams are considered to facilitate self-organisation of intellect on higher orders of awareness. In Deleuzian manner of mutating Bergson’s work into Bergsonism, polyphibianism is a mutation in transcribing the code of Creative Evolution where Bergson insisted on interdependency between the theory of knowledge and the theory of evolution. The scholarly dispute on Bergsonian and anti-Bergsonian tendencies present in Marcel Duchamp’s work is revisited in the thesis by interpreting the higher dimensional Bride as a polyphibic organism of living knowledge with access to higher orders of awareness, able to guide the Bachelor’s apparatus of mechanical production and preservation of knowledge out of its predicament. Informed by peculiar Duchampian experiments that challenged both the domain of art and science the research projects in this thesis consist of an intervention at CERN that tested the impenetrability of institutionalised art-science collaborations and installation of the Interval of Suspended Judgement with high mathematical precision at the threshold between physics and ‘pataphysics. With these projects the problems of categorising researchers into artists and scientists are revealed. As Deleuze suggested, to effectively formulate the problem, to realize it in multiplicity of contexts, a new concept must be invented, a new organism must be conceived. This thesis gave birth to an imaginary organism of living knowledge in order to relieve the unnecessary anxieties and to fully engage in transdisciplinary research.
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