IIWII – It Is What It Is

logSpiral450.jpg One difficulty with displaying (mainly) conceptional works is that a lot of these works have no full and immediate sensory output – especially those with not many interactive and performative ingredients. In other words: it is hard to see an idea/imagination/thought if it is represented only in a few images/ sound/ narratives/ descriptions etc.

And: if the immediate sensory connection is not or not fully present (such a connection was e.g. an aim of Concrete Art ) then it is also hard to find means for communicating a concept/ idea/ experience/ imagination etc.

(One should remark: the problem of communicating information with no immediate sensory output applies to some extend to almost any (mostly visual) artwork, since there is usually always an idea/imagination which is not fully graspable behind an artwork)

/*The above is similar to the problem of communicating mathematics. There is not much immediate sensory output in math. But in contrast to e.g. concept (ual) art, mathematics tries to eliminate unasked context.

Means: Mathematics looks only at concepts, which can be “defined” and where (almost) no cultural/individual/perceptional etc. -context “blurs” the concept. An advantage of this approach is that one can “teach” mathematical concepts, i.e. make the pure idea accessible to everyone who is willing to put the time into learning. Another advantage is that one can set the concepts into a logical relationship and e.g. can check them for consistency.

And most important: since everything is defined, there is no ambiguity about the meaning and that is why mathematics is a powerful way to express and communicate also very abstract ideas. Means also: there is no need to care about the possible interpretations or poetic breakings of a math work. i.e. It is what it is (IIWII).

Disadvantage of that approach is that the concepts have to be “definable”. Concepts/ideas/experiences/imaginations which are not definable fall (more or less) through the cracks. An interesting reading in this context: ->Max Bill */

I am asking myself: how does one “recreate” the “imaginative sujet” of an artwork? As I understand in art and design this is often done by assuming that there is a context/knowledge which – based on the given e.g. audiovisuals – recreates the artistic imagination in the head of the observer of the art/design work. But how do you know that it is that what it should be? You don’t. But it still seems to work – at least to a certain degree. It works better if you have some knowledge of the given (e.g.cultural) context.


Words have usually a very concrete meaning (i.e. you can look them up in a dictionary)(lets assume that they are not homonyms). Of course one can start now to muse about meanings and their understanding, but this is a blog and I need to simplify. I.e. I assume that everybody understands the same thing if the meaning is clear.

If you read a (e.g. natural-) scientific journal then usually all words are IIWII words. Means: a hyperbolic space is a hyperbolic space and not a poetic description of your last rollercoaster trip. If you read a poem then usually no word is IIWII, means: every word should rather connect to different and new contexts/meanings in order to create a rich experience or it should not link to any such meaning at all.

So may be one can say that (natural-) scientific papers and poems are the two extremes in this comparision and that there are a lot of texts in between.

Is it a weird proposal to declare words and sentences as IIWII if they are clearly meant as IIWII in order to speed up understanding in a IIWII-non-IIWII-mixed text? An IIWII declared word/sentence/paragraph is what it is – and there would be no need to break your head. Should we define an IIWII tag in our DTDs ? (style freely designable). Could one define multiple meanings? Something like IIWII-1, IIWII-2, IIWII-3 etc?

What about computer art? If just the code is your concept, then this is basically math. If the code has also another meaning then this may be more than math. If the audiovisual output of a code creates rich imaginations in the observers head then this could be more than math. If the output is just intended for explaining math/code then this has to be declared as IIWII?

An image of conrete art – is it IIWII? (in the art sense) and the Max Bills fifteen variations then IIWII-1 to IIWII-15?

Remark 1: MATH COMMENT: Tim and me we couldnt resist to investigate Max Bills construction of nested polygons, which can easily be understood by looking at this image. After making some arguments about the (discrete) curvature, we thought that it should be something like a discrete version of a logarithmic spiral and hence plugged it into Mathematica (red curve in aboves image) and experimentally (means no rigorous estimate) nestled a real logarithmic spiral (black curve) into it, so I at least our guess LOOKS convincing. It is no proof.

The outer circle shape in Max Bills construction comes from the circle arcs of different radius, which you can paste together since they share the same tangent at the pasting point (see here). However the spiral you obtain in this way is – in contrast to the logarithmic spiral – only C^1 (one time differentiable) – means: not as smooth as the log Spiral, but still: its a beautiful construction and comparison.

Remark 2:
I try to understand, experience and learn. This is it. And this is just a blog. You don’t have to read it.

One Response to “IIWII – It Is What It Is”

  1. Delfino Says:

    Do you now want to change the HTML standard because of this IIWII ? Just curious.

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