At a time when scientists finally have large enough computers to study these complex systems, these artists, working here with simple materials, have created works that model these same systems in ways that not only capture the physical essence of this phenomena, but also their essential beauty. Be it the filagree of an a-cellular slime mold, the sensual flow of water over eroding terrain, or the organic nature of a video feedback system, it is the beauty of these phenomena that lead to questions and deeper observations, observations that have led to significant learning experiences for those working in this field, for ourselves and for our visitors.
The quote above is Peter Richards describing the Exploratorium exhibit in San Francisco, and he comments on the beauty of systems in nature that are self-organizing and can produce amazing results. The idea of nonlinear systems and how it connects the arts and sciences is a bridge that is very strong and intriguing. To me, the system that is the most interesting is Peter Richards and George Gonzales’ Wave Organ.
The Wave Organ is an acoustically set up concrete jetty constructed with old material taken from a demolished cemetery and twenty-five organ pipes made of PVC. The sound is created by the impact of the waves against the pipe ends and water flushing in and out of the pipes. The sounds are very subtle during low tides. According to Wilson in Information Arts, the intensity and complexity of the wave music is directly related to the tides and weather (239).
The idea of natural phenomena influencing very fleeting but mysteriously beautiful pieces of art is a wonder of this world. How is it that structures can take input from just water to create sounds that our ears translate to musical blurbs of symphonies? I would argue that creative design that leads to an orderly result such as music is evidence for a designer of the world. In Nathan Busenitz’s book titled Reasons We Believe he says, “If there is a God, and if the Bible describes Him accurately, then we would expect to find that the world operates according to fixed laws, exhibiting signs of both purpose and design.” Even the laws of Thermodynamics point back to God. Creation scientist Henry Morris explains, “Now, since [the universe has not yet died, it must not be infinitely old, and therefore it must have had a beginning. As time goes on, the available power [in the universe] decreases (by the Second Law) even though the total power in the universe remains constant (by the First Law). Therefore the source of the tremendous power manifest throughout the universe must be outside and above the universe. It cannot be temporal power; it must be eternal power. The basic laws of the universe thus witness with great power to the fact of God” (Many Infallible Proofs, 107-108). Just like the laws of thermodynamics, the exists of orderly sound waves in physics is also one way of describing a world that acts on laws that cannot be changed. In all the exhibitions of all science museums, intelligent design is present. One can argue that the world somehow evolved to have these systems come about, but the probability that order and life came from something so chaotic such as the Big Bang is so infinitesimally small and the complexity of life is so infinitely large that it is hard to say that some higher being did not create the world.