Regina Valluzzi – Soft Condensed Matter

3 minute read


My background is in Physical Chemistry and Chemical Physics/Condensed Matter Physics, specifically Soft Condensed matter.  In Soft Condensed Matter, a lot of very complex structures with layers of order and inter-relation build up from combinations of simple laws and interactions – synchronicity sweet spots would be a non-technical way to describe it, driven by entropy.

I try to capture aspects of this science in much of my work, especially my ink-based works on paper.  I’ve included several pieces where the collision of ideas, and often artistic approaches and techniques/media has resulted in synchronicity.  Seemingly random elements come together on the paper and do their little dance.

Can you attempt to briefly describe your understanding of the link between creativity and synchronicity?

I think it is helpful here to take a step back and think about how our Society talks about “creativity”. I’ve found that most people use the term to describe acquired skill in artistic fields. If they have only a passing interest in creating, an effort is creative if it creates something (“I made this! I am a creator!”). As people who delve deeper into the Arts and creation, the ideal of creativity evolves along with our approach and our creative work. Creativity becomes the quality that allows us to find our own voices. It is expressed as we create not just works, but our own unique idioms. We yearn for ideas that are creative and truly new, yet relevant to and not disjoint from our cultures. We seek to create the next expressions of our cultures.

It is in this sense that I see Creativity and Synchronicity related to one another. Synchronicity in a profoundly creative endeavor takes the seeming randomness of the very novel and melds it with order and culture. These magical synchronicities of ideas are what allow us to understand and appreciate very new and creative Art. They provide patterns of touchpoints that allow people to intellectually and emotionally navigate new art.

In my own work I combine random elements with purposeful responses to randomness. In the case of drawings, the unpredictable elements of each piece are created by the Chemistry of ink, paint, and paper. My drawings are built around regular geometries, but there is all this wiggly stuff at the edges of the lines and forms, or where the inks and tolls didn’t quite behave. These features inspire fine line details. The way the entirety of a drawing comes together and declares itself “finished” is a synchronicity of ideas, scales, accidents and design.

Are you saying that we, as soft condensed matter, are convening points for synchronicity? We are synchronicity?

We are made primarily of the “Stuff” of Soft Condensed Matter. I spent years studying how very simple molecules and geometric ideas could build up into structures with complexity reminiscent of Biology. I often wonder what we would be if just a few Chemistries, a few geometric rules were swapped out. So in a sense you can see Synchronicity in the way living stuff manages to hold itself together and do the things that living things do. The alternative would seem to be mush.

So you are working where art and science meet, do I understand correctly that both art and science have equal amounts to say about synchronicity? Perhaps attempting it to explain it from different viewpoints with some overlaps?

We use different more precisely defined terms in Science. This allows scientists to be very specific about what they mean and very sure that complex information will be understood. However very precise language can also limit how far a group of people can think beyond what is currently known. This is especially true when words are selected very early in a Technical Field’s development. The terminology chosen early on can “lock down” how people think about a field, and how knowledge is prioritized.

There are many ways where Art parallels Science – creativity, a sort of moral courage to pursue new and unpopular ideas, the way work is framed around melding creativity with skill, the deep historical and cultural contexts and potential relevance. However the use of language is very different, and the way language works to support and frame creativity and context is also very different between Art and Science. Artists would use a word like “synchronicity” to describe a broad range of processes, qualities and concepts, with the meaning mutating as the context changes. And Artists can effectively communicate within that envelope of meaning.

Scientists would tend to define different precise terms for each context in that envelope, framing communication around different defined types of entropy, complexity and chaotic systems, cooperativity etc. In fields that touch on my own perhaps the same general envelop of concepts would be framed in terms of coherence, entanglement, uncertainty, and entropy.

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