Something in the Way

Arild Tveito

Arild Tveito (1976, NO) is a multidisciplinary artist working in a variety of media, such as installation, film, video and music. Tveito is also part of the artist group Institutt for Degenerert Kunst with Anders Nordby and Eirik Sæther.

Flora Semiotica

A living system is a multi-level self-organizing anarchic (chaotic) hierarchy of communicative systems or swarms. That is to say, there are many subsystems which can solve a conflict or contradiction if it arises, and they all function as semiotic systems. Reinrosa (Dryas octopetala) has a widespread occurrence throughout mountainous areas where it is generally restricted to limestone outcrops. These include the entire Arctic, as well as the mountains of Scandinavia, the Alps, Carpathian Mountains, Balkans, Caucasus and in isolated locations elsewhere. In Great Britain, it occurs in the Pennines (northern England), at two locations in Snowdonia (north Wales), and more widely in the Scottish Highlands; in Ireland it occurs on The Burren and a few other sites. In North America, it is found in Alaska most frequently on previously glaciated terrain and reaches as far south as Colorado in the Rocky Mountains. It is the official territorial flower of the Northwest Territories, and the national flower of Iceland.

Any simple semiotic function is a result of a quite complicated mechanism if described in mechanical terms. This means that simple explanations are possible for complex systems like life. This seems to be one of the most provocative aspects of biosemiotics, making it a candidate for a new theory of general biology – without losing anything except unnecessary details, it wants to provide a simple language for the description of phenomena which have been very complex and difficult for biophysics. The Dryas octopetalas stems are woody, tortuous, with short, horizontal rooting branches. The leaves are glabrous above, densely white-tomentose beneath. The flowers are produced on stalks 3–10 cm (1.2–3.9 in) long, and have eight creamy white petals. The style is persistent on the fruit with white feathery hairs, functioning as a wind-dispersal agent. The feathery hairs of the seed head first appear twisted together and glossy before spreading out to an expanded ball which the wind quickly disperses. It grows in dry localities where snow melts early, on gravel and rocky barrens, forming a distinct heath commu- nity on calcareous soils.

Biosemiotics, if it is a paradigm for biology, should mean a different approach in all branches of biology. It cannot restrict itself to the re-interpretation of existing knowledge (like a philosophy of biology), with the application of a new terminology. It is a way of thinking, experimenting and describing for both theoretical and empiri- cal biology. For Jakob Johann von Uexküll, Umweltforschung was, first of all, an experimental science, the detailed physiolo- gical description and analysis of functional circles, the investigation of sensors and effectors of organisms together with the codes which connect them both inside and outside the organism. The semiotic ap- proach has raised this problem and makes this work meaningful. However, the problem of what the semiotic approach should mean for experimental biology, is still almost uninvestigated in contemporary biosemiotics.

From the point of view of sociology of science, biosemiotics, according to the impact made by Professor Jesper Hoffmey- er, seems to be a child of the cultural movement, related somehow to the values of methodological anarchism and love of symbiosis, holism and critics of neo-Darwi- nism. However, my belief is that it should be combined with the results of theoretical biology, as we understand it at the end of the 20th century, with the understanding of complex systems, chaos, recursive mathe- matics etc. When combining all these tools, biosemiotics may indeed build the bridges it has started to build.

– Kalevi Kull & Arild Tveito 2011

Anders Nordby, Arild Tveito, LIAF 2011. Photo: NNKS/LIAF
Anders Nordby, Arild Tveito, LIAF 2011. Photo: NNKS/LIAF