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James P. Crutchfield

In the late 1970s, James P. Crutchfield was part of a group of rebels at the University of California, Santa Cruz, which played a major role in the development of chaos theory. He has published many articles, which can be found on the Santa Fe Institute web site by entering his name in the search engine. A physicist, professor and researcher, Crutchfield is a well-known intermediary between artistic and scientific circles, respected for his ability to establish links between the concepts of chaos theory and those found in the electronic avant-garde.

He is currently interested in the limitations posed by our vocabulary when we attempt to describe new fields of experience. According to Crutchfield, our perception of the world is limited by our vocabulary. How can we break free of these limitations? How can our vocabulary grow more dynamically? These questions have led him to what he calls the "discovery of recurrent patterns." He is interested in the organization of forms in natural systems and in the procedures that we use to discover them. All this has brought him into the company of artists, where he draws inspiration for some of his most rigorous investigations. In fact, he doesn't always see art and science as distinct because, he says, both fields of activity are concerned with patterns and our perception of them. His interest in the interface between art and science is clear from his role as scientific advisor for the exhibition Turbulent Landscapes: The Natural Forces that Shape our World at the Exploratorium, San Francisco, 1996-97.

Jacques Perron © 2000 FDL