Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Morrison House Photography Talk

I am delighted to announce an upcoming slide presentation in Alexandria, VA, 6:00 to 8:00 pm on August 2 (Tuesday). The talk will be given at Alexandria's historic Morrison House (116 South Alfred Street, Alexandria, VA 22314) and is sponsored by the Torpedo Factory's Art Center.

From the press release:

Photography, Physics, and Complexity: Strange Bedfellows or a New Aesthetic?

Morrison House Presents: Andy Ilachinski, Photographer and Physicist

Physics and photography have always been inextricably linked: by chemistry, light, diffraction, refraction, reflection, polarization, etc. But these are only the most obvious and superficial of connections. This talk uses complexity theory – which describes the fundamental relationships between parts and wholes – to point to a vastly deeper, resonant level on which physics and photography – any creative art – are linked, and offer a possible glimpse of a new fundamental aesthetic grammar. In the end, it is argued, the outwardly-directed journey toward objective realities, and the inner passage toward subjective truths are revealed as but two interrelated aspects of a single creative thread of self-discovery.

Born in 1960 on Long Island, NY, and the only son of an architect and artist, Andy's life has always straddled left– (analytical, logical) and right– (creative, artistic) brained worlds.

On the left-brained side, he earned a Ph.D. in theoretical physics (specializing in complex systems) in 1988 and has over 20 years experience as a research analyst and project director at the Center for Naval Analyses (CNA) – a federally funded research and development center headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia – where Andy has pioneered the application of complex adaptive systems theory to military operations research problems. He has authored two graduate-level mathematical physics texts on nonlinear dynamics and agent-based modeling, co-authored a book on artificial-life models and contributed to Springer-Verlag's 10-volume Encyclopedia of Complexity and Systems Science, and is on the editorial board of two physics journals.

On the right-brained side, and both by temperament and inner muse, Andy is a fine-art black-and-white photographer, and has been one for far longer than his Ph.D. gives him any right to claim an ownership by physics. He has delighted in taking pictures ever since his parents surprised him on his 10th birthday with a Polaroid camera. Andy has won numerous awards (in both print and on-line juried contests), has exhibited in many juried solo and group shows, appeared in Lenswork (a preeminent fine-art journal of black and white photography), Focus magazine, both U.S. and U.K. Black & White magazines, and won a photo-magazine sponsored book contest. He has received multiple awards at the prestigious Black and White Spider Awards, and was one of the founding juried members of Lorton Art's Photography Workshop (in Lorton, VA). In 2010, Andy's work was featured (alongside two other artists) in a four month exhibit at the American Center for Physics (in College Park, MD).

More About the Series

This series of monthly talks is sponsored by the Torpedo Factory Artists’ Association, the Alexandria Archaeological Commission, and the Morrison House Hotel. The talks take place on the first Tuesday of each month. Cocktails will be available for purchase through The Grille at Morrison House Hotel, and dinner reservations can be made for guests who would like to continue their experience following the event.

About Morrison House

The Morrison House, a Kimpton Hotel, is an elegant boutique hotel located in the heart of Old Town, Alexandria. Named an outstanding hotel on Condé Nast Traveler’s 2008 Gold List, the hotel exhibits the romance of Europe and the charm of Early America through its decorative federalist-style reproductions. The architecture blends into the historic surrounding of Alexandria, while its warmly lit rooms, soft music, and outstanding cuisine define an experience that is graceful and effortless. The AAA Four Diamond property also features The Grille, an intimate restaurant that serves a menu of relaxed American fine dining. The hotel is located at 116 South Alfred Street, Alexandria, VA 22314, (703) 838-8000.


Anonymous said...

Good luck with your talk on Tuesday Andy. My copy of "On Reading" arrived in the mail Saturday. What a wonderful book. The cover photo is so inviting. I've been through the book at least a dozen times already. Thanks for the recommendation.

Unknown said...

How did your talk go? Would be interested in hearing about it.

Peace, John

Andy Ilachinski said...

John, as soon as my (day-job-defined) schedule permits, i plan on posting some follow-up comments. The short story is that it went extremely well, with about 30 more people showing up than i had expected (which was about 10 or so in a relatively small room at the hotel). As also typically happens to me (despite having many years if practice) i got through about half of what i wanted to say in a time that ran over the alloted slot! However, nearly everyone stayed to the end, and i got many kind comments from people who came afterwards to chat some more. I'll write about some of the more interesting encounters in the coming weeks. In the meantime, if you're interested, you can download a pdf version of the whole talk (including parts i never got a chance to discuss;-) by following a link you'll find to the "morrison house talk" that appears on the right hand side of this blog (you'll need to scroll down a bit but it should be easy to find). It'll be somewhat cryptic without the accompanying "explanatory" words; but then again, perhaps my "explanatory" words only made it more - not less - confusing ;-)

doctor rob said...

Hello. Just found your blog and have not had time to rummage around much much less digest the layers of implications contained within the words. Was struck by your statement:

"the outwardly-directed journey toward objective realities, and the inner passage toward subjective truths are revealed as but two interrelated aspects of a single creative thread of self-discovery."

Is or will there be an opportunity to hear/learn more....and/or can you provide an accessible reference for complexity theory? My training is theology and psych of religion.

Thanks and I will be back. Hard to find blogs like your's. Hell, hard to find anything that combines photography and spirituality....so I gotta ask: What? No quotes from Minor White?


Andy Ilachinski said...

Doctor rob, welcome; hope you enjoy your stay at my humble little blog. As for minor white - do a search, and you'll likely find so many quotes by minor white scattered throughout that the blog rightfully belongs more to him than me! ;-) if you do a search on "spirituality" (on my blog) i suspect you'll find a few past posts of mine you'd enjoy perusing. Thanks again for stopping by!

lela said...

Just wanted to let you know how relevant your talk has been to my own work! I was the gal who brought her whole family reunion and did slides for you at this event.

Now I'm back in school studying indigenous food systems. Just wrote a paper on why an ecosystem can be considered a complex system, and why fuzzy logic works better to describe them than trying to reduce everything to independent variables.

I'd be curious to hear about how complexity relates to neuroscience. Any books that you know of address this?

Thanks again for that badass presentaion. Inspiring!

Andy Ilachinski said...


Thanks for the note, and thanks again for "turning" the slides; much appreciated! As for complexity and neuroscience, there are many connections (and references), mostly nowadays centering on network science. A nice recent overview (with additional references) is by Hava Seigelmann (Front. Comput. Neurosci.): http://www.frontiersin.org/computational_neuroscience/10.3389/fncom.2010.00007/full

General discussions appear in an older Santa Fe pub edited by Morowitz and Singer (The mind, the brain, and complex adaptive systems): http://books.google.com/books/about/The_mind_the_brain_and_complex_adaptive.html?id=XJERwCCsLk8C

and a book by Scott Kelso (Dynamic Patterns): http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0262611317/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_1?pf_rd_p=486539851&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=0201409887&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=03EJY89NY6SPNT8XJZTE

Thanks again for the visit (both to my talk and my blog), and kind words.