Systems science perspectives

Systems science perspectives have motivated the artistic and theoretical work of MUELLER-DIVJAK since their academic years, and so it was only a matter of time before the two of them would happen to meet the Managing Director of the BCSSS (Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science). Friendship and passion came together and together they developed an interdisciplinary project. As the arts can play an important role to make complex relationships and dynamics more accessible by engaging all our senses. For the BCSSS, this reason was an important part of enabling the public to experience the cultural heritage of the early 20th century, the trajectory of a worldview and its contemporary relevance.

Within the framework of MUELLER-DIVJAK’s artistic research, the artistic figure BERTA was created – using the comprehensive archive of the BCSSS, and in exchange with the staff and actors of the research center. She overcomes the classic legend of the “male genius”, who is accompanied by a woman in the role of muse and/or secretary. BERTA combines the thinking of Maria Magdalena and her husband Ludwig von Bertalanffy – and their contact intellectuality.

Through her research on the basic principles of life, BERTA came up with an organismic view of the world. This is the core of the “General Systems Theory”, which she founded. Systems science, however, was for a long time dominated by mechanistic views of the world and human beings, and was mainly known in its manifestation as first order cybernetics.

MUELLER-DIVJAK consider the knowledge and awareness that every living system is an open system to be essential for life and survival. Every cell, every living being, all of us, our societies and cultures, every family, all companies, factories, schools, countries, economies, a single tree, a forest, the planet earth … All these are not closed systems that can be controlled and function like machines.

We humans ourselves are open and therefore complex systems. And we can only live and survive in such living systems. Even if our ideas about ourselves and the world we live in are very often mechanistically shaped and thus simplified. But with this linearly trained, rather unlively thinking and acting we do not get ahead (in terms of evolution). Perhaps not even 7 generations more will be able to live on a fertile planet.

How can the General Systems Theory, the work of BERTA, contribute to a good future? How can we create conditions conducive to life as we are ourselves an essential part of life (Janine Benyus)? How can we enhance beauty? The ability to perceive in an interdependent way and to think in contexts, to understand different systems and their patterns/structures and, based on this, to act in a future-oriented and life-affirming way, to find individual and political decisions, needs to be strengthened and developed.

These questions and insights are reflected in the works of the exhibition “77.000 GENERATIONS – Berta says: We need to find a new conception of man” by MUELLER-DIVJAK, which is supported by BCSSS and has its premiere at Künstlerhaus Bregenz.


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