Edge-Serpentine Map Marathon

By Sean Carroll | October 14, 2010 1:01 pm

Edge is collaborating with the Serpentine Gallery in London on projects at the art/science interface. Last year they looked at equations; this year they’re looking at maps. It’s a playful and broad conception of what constitutes a “map”; you will see a few astrophysical examples in there.

Here’s an excerpt from a map of the emotions by Emanuel Derman, based on Spinoza’s Ethics. I zoomed in on the cluster centered around pain, because that’s what people will be drawn to first anyway.

Map of Emotions, according to Spinoza

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Arts, Science and the Media
  • spyder

    I would have like to seen a Buddhist perspective on this map.

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  • Nex

    Pain -> Reality

    It proves reality really is real.

  • http://fermaton.over-blog.com clovis simard

    Vous trouverez ci joint l’adresse de mon Blog ( fermaton.over-blog.com).

    C’est une théorie mathématique de la conscience reliant très bien Art-Sciences-Mathématique.


    Dr Clovis Simard

  • http://lablemminglounge.blogspot.com Lab Lemming

    How is this a map? The spatial location of the information is totally arbitrary.

  • Yoda

    Derision… interesting…

  • Roberts

    Life is pain. Anyone who says otherwise is trying to sell something.

  • ChH

    Lab Lemming,

    This is a map in the same way an org-chart or a network topology diagram is a map – it shows how things are inter-related without addressing their positions in space.

  • bittergradstudent


    But you can have illusory pain–I’ve been hit on the head in a dream, and amputees will hurt in their “fingers”. I guess you could say that the ‘pain’ is real, but the meaning ascribed to it is not, but you’re stuck in a circular regress if you go down this chain of reasoning.

  • bob

    For more cool and artistic science maps, see the recently published book from MIT Press: Atlas of science: visualizing what we know http://mitpress.mit.edu/catalog/item/default.asp?ttype=2&tid=12344

  • Gammaburst

    Pain is Nature’s way of educating fools.

  • http://vacua.blogspot.com Jim Harrison

    More grandly: pain is the foreplay of death.

  • psmith

    No one ever learns from success, they only learn from failure. And failure is a form of pain.
    I love the explanatory power of maps. And I am always impressed by how the process of making a map interacts with the thinking process to generate better quality outcomes.

  • Jeff

    Sheesh, some of the artists sure couldn’t be bothered to exert themselves with their maps (I’m looking at you, Marina Abramovic, and you, John Baldessari). Or perhaps I am too unsophisticated to appreciate the Duchampian sublimity of their art.


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About Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. His research interests include theoretical aspects of cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. His most recent book is The Particle at the End of the Universe, about the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs boson. Here are some of his favorite blog posts, home page, and email: carroll [at] cosmicvariance.com .


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