Category Archives: Miscellanea

Gratuitous creation

Of course, there will always be those who look only at technique, who ask ‘how’, while others of a more curious nature will ask ‘why’. Personally, I have always preferred inspiration to information.

An original is a creation motivated by desire. Any reproduction of an original is motivated be necessity. It is marvelous that we are the only species that creates gratuitous forms. To create is divine, to reproduce is human.

Man Ray

I came across these quotes on a site by photographer Akif Hakan Celebi, here at, here at his own site. Man Ray I hope does need no introduction.

I love photography and have looked at a lot of it. For me, in recent memory, Hakan’s work stands out for the way he conveys a story, and creates a set. The way he uses color, deliberately, to tell the story, really shook me up. There is no shortage today of “beautiful” photos. Digital technology has made it happen. So we are surrounded by beautiful wallpaper photography with near perfect technique and little meaning. Digitally generated content, say using fractal generation software, is the most extreme example of this. Always stunning, never touching. Hakan’s photography, however, tells a story. This relates to the first quote, about “why”  – there is a why in Hakan, or rather, there seem to be many. And he uses color as a vital part of the story instead of just having it as a pleasing add-on. Many fine art pictures, including some of my own, “work” better in black and white. The story is already there without color, colors are a distraction. Hakan uses color as part of the story – without color there would be much less of a story.

The second quote is why I post this here at Organic Development. It never occurred to me that gratuitous creation is uniquely human. I may have thought of art as a human thing, but restated as “the creation  of gratuitous forms” this concept takes on a whole new meaning. I also wonder if in a deeper sense the agency for gratuitous creation may be human, but the undirected, natural creation of new forms in Nature could just as well be called gratuitous too. Think Ernst Haeckel’s “Art Forms of Nature” (in German actually more to the point, as “Spielformen” = “Play forms”) or D’Arcy Thompson’s “On Growth and Form” or Darwin’s timeless “endless forms most beautiful”. In an case, in terms of deliberate gratuitousness, I suppose humans are rather unique. It is agency, which is about being alive, but without purpose, which is really not in the line of the utilitarian shadow of Darwinian theory.

Avatar and biology

I finally saw the movie now. The one interesting idea of the movie that really stands out, is the idea of a real “wetware” avatar, to be inhabited by a human soul, to live in a wetware kind of Second Life. If you leave aside this basic idea, and the impressive CGI recreation of this world, I found the rest of the movie disappointing. The biology of it is once again unoriginal,  a lot of the plants and animals there are either direct copies of terrestrial organisms (trees), or easily recognizable transplants (some jungle plants looking and functioning as some well known brown algae). And never mind the plotline, which apparently marries the Captain Smith and Pocahontas love story with the leave-us-alone theme of Apocalypto (which I suppose also delivered the idea of blue colored humanoids). Coming back to the movie’s imagination of another world – in analogy to the last post on “natural” vs “artificial” architecture design it makes me wonder, can we at all imagine organic worlds that do not look like our known world? Must any organic-biological world have the same “design features” that we know from ours? That means, segmentation, axial and bilateral symmetry, tree-like growth, separation of neuronal and somatic networks, etc. Of course this movie actually copies known morphologies wholesale, as do most sci fi movies. But if it didn’t, would truly “other” morphologies still include features that we’d recognize as “organic” in origin?