System Theory and Art: Micro-Diversity and Self-Organisation
journal contributionposted on 07.04.2020, 15:12 by Christian Morgner
This paper makes a renewed contribution to system theoretical thinking within the context of Niklas Luhmann's theory. The paper suggests that in Luhmann's late writings, he made a range of interesting and stimulating remarks about more recent developments on self-organising processes that are inspired by evolutionary economics. He proposes that these ideas can provide an understanding of meaning-making in the arts that overcomes older approaches that relied on a very mechanical understanding of self-organisation. The paper will show that the idea of micro- diversity and self-organisation provides a new framework that enables us to understand the emergence of singular and unique artworks and the differentiation of self-defined arts in the 18th and 19th centuries. Furthermore, the paper will show, that the distinction between micro-diversity and selforganisation provides a framework integrating a range of empirical phenomena, for instance, the rise of emotions, intentions, expression and practices, but also the development of art events (festivals, fairs, exhibitions), art capitals (from 19th century Paris to contemporary Berlin) and art networks (movements, narratives and art about art). Finally, these theoretical considerations enable us to overcome the problematic distinction of micro- versus macro structures by accepting the circular process of meaning-making based on micro-diversity and self-organisation.