Cosmolalia by Christophe Bruno
This article introduces the future project It was comissioned by the software art factory Readme 100 in Dortmund 2005 and is included into the resulting publication: Readme 100 Temporary Software Art Factory, Books on Demand GmbH, Norderstedt, Germany, 2005.
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Christophe Bruno's paper is a description of an artistic project. It is itself an artistic work performed by an ex-physicist and ex-mathematician who developed quite a few well-received art projects very soon after he left his scientific career. Bruno also has a strong interest in language, one of the most mysterious of human's capacities (products?), and in culture as it is fused with markets. The ideas Bruno puts forward in the present piece of writing have been bothering many and have been researched by well-known philosophers, political theorists or economists; however, he suggests his own way of interpreting and struggling with the reality of today.

The “present day” might be remembered in the future as a time when science and “unscience” - religion, myth, language, and the otherwise unquantifiable - both pushed forward with intense fervor, often made to work awkwardly in tandem despite their inherent contradictions. Religions, disguised as countries, continued to go to war with one another as they’d done for thousands of years - possibly millions, depending on whether one subscribed to a scientific or unscientific viewpoint. And a particularly controversial yet powerful group of unscientists argued that while it was impossible to scientifically determine that the temperature of the earth was increasing, it was on the other hand possible to use a scientific mapping of market trends to predict when their enemies would attack. Markets, it seemed, held a special, elevated status, one that was somehow outside of and immune to the limitations of both science and unscience, yet in harmony with both.

Christophe Bruno’s “Cosmolalia” begins at this complicated place, where science, maps, and markets collide with the the unscientific, the unmappable, the unsellable - and tries to create a place where the latter group can be safe. He does so by proposing a strategy for creating maps only an individual human could create – maps of connections between religion, myth, language, and the otherwise unquantifiable. Bruno is considering eventually developing Cosmolalia into a software-based system. Given that science already claims to have unlocked many of the mysteries of human perception in “unscientific” domains like art and language, as well as the secrets to human mapmaking (Pescovitz.), one wonders whether Cosmolalia could, despite Bruno’s best efforts, wind up a marketable product after all? The answer may lie not in the lack of tangibility of some of the data Bruno maps (myths, memory, etc.) but in the individuality of the human thought “algorithm.” Whether individuality is truly a product of nature, nurture, or both doesn’t really matter here. What is important is that it can’t be replicated in a lab and can’t be mass-produced in a factory. As such, it remains useless to both science and markets. Perhaps the key to survival of the “present day” is, in the end, creative uselessness.

Pescovitz, David. “Visualizing Better Human-Computer Interaction.” Lab Notes: Research from the College of Engineering, University of California, Berkeley. Volume 5, Issue 9, Oct/Nov 2005.

Amy Alexander, Olga Goriunova

by admin, posted 12 Feb 2006

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