BACK TO THE FUTURE
"Behold, I am making all things new". And he saith
"write; because these words are faithful and true".
Book of Revelation 21:5
About Hortus Conclusus
Hortus Conclusus is an initiative of The Karoussos Archives, in partnership with the Botanic and the Terrestrial Zoology Laboratories of Goulandris Museum of Natural History, The Mediterranean Institute for Nature and Anthropos (MedINA), and The Ainos Cultural Society. These specialists include world-leading authorities on cultural and epistemological research and development. Based on their advice and scientific direction, the project’s team of transdisciplinary artists redraw, restore and regenerate key iconographic elements that have shaped bygone, yet exemplary, ecosystems and create the mixed reality of Hortus Conclusus garden. Building a strong dynamic of the ecological, anthropological, and cultural environment, Hortus Conclusus considers the aforementioned fields as integrated landscapes (rural, biological, sacred, and artistic) to generate the cultivation of three interactive gardens (noetic, virtual, physical). The aim of Hortus Conclusus is the reintegration of various forgotten entities (biotic and abiotic) towards the coherence of an integral eco-space in post-Anthropocene era.
On Art & Science
In recent decades there has been a growing interest in an interdisciplinary artistic approach to the art | science | technology relation, in fields such as biology, ecology, physics robotics, and artificial intelligence.
Drawing on scientific studies and evaluations, eco-art, as well as bio-art, aim to broaden ecological and biological consciousness, respectively. However, although science clearly distinguishes its evolutionary course, based on earlier references and results, art seems to have an intermittent course. Also, technologies, in artistic creation, often have an ancillary contribution, as an external media. But history has shown that art itself produces technology through a wide range of manifestations.
The artistic legend in regards to the formation of consciousness of the living environment begins as early as the cave art and therefore, there is a loaded repertoire at the disposal of artists, which, despite the broad contribution it may offer to integrated arts, is often considered obsolete and incompatible with the contemporary context.
However, the absence of references, derived from this legend, intensifies the allegations, which have already been formulated, and which state that these forms of syncretic art, function only as an alternative system for legitimating scientific results.
This artistic legend, however, is capable of justifying the existence of a holistic cognitive content of art, and therefore its reconsideration for analysis and artistic development of its content is considered necessary for the contemporary art context.
Aiming to restore this content, the project selects a byzantine theme, to be taken as a template, which, despite its rich, interdisciplinary cognitive content, has been reduced in the field of cultural heritage, thereby, determining its incompatibility with contemporary art.
Yet, the present project, addresses the imperative for its inclusion in the contemporary context, to reconstitute the value of cognitive content in art.
The result is considered to contribute to the art|science relation, with a positive impact on both the scientific asset of art and the artistic asset of science respectively.
The byzantine theme of the Garden of St. Anna has been expressed both in visual and textual form. In the text of the 14th century, Theodore Hytrakenos, the orator, describes an environment, with a special spatial condition, as an integrated system of physics that is combined inextricably with biology.
The outcome of this set is the realization of a metaphysical event – auto-poiesis -, which is expressed through an exceptional - visual and textual - description of an automatic system (automata), which was the cutting-edge technology of the time.
This holistic environment, creates a locus amonaeus, that, despite its later categorisation as an ideal, imaginary place, is capable of revealing, actual elements that can alter our perspective towards biodiversity and ecosystems in the post-Anthropocene era, while it, synchronously, disclosures an outstanding condition of the art|science convergence.
To operate Anna’s garden, the listener/viewer should absorb the text |image, rather than observe it. Similarly, the creator should manifest it, rather than represent it. All of the above elements reflect several features, which are parallel to these of integrated arts, such as immersive environments, telematics, interaction, and virtual reality.
Yet, in the byzantine prototype, these features have a different approach that essentially manifests the participatory function of biological, technological, physical, and metaphysical practices in a hybrid space of possibilities.
Thus, instead of a simple artistic representation of the prevailing intelligent model of science, this garden expresses its inherent syncretic nature, since, there, science is embedded or better absorbed, in the artistic process.
Hortus Conclusus advocates that art can reveal a special form of technology and that art objects can act as carriers for ensuring human consent in an ecosystem of intraspecific potentialities in which they are enmeshed.
The artistic expression of St. Anna’s garden exemplifies this technological form with efficacy that surpasses several modern approaches.
Many scholars claim that the artistic form of the garden is an imaginary description. However, the present proposal asserts that it is an exemplary analysis of Byzantine automata, through the technology of art. Modern technology is radically different in approach from Byzantine and thus it is unlikely for art to be contextualised within the current technological field.
Specifically, drawing on Classical antiquity, Byzantine technology referred to a unified field of knowledge field where astronomy, mechanics, theology, philosophy, logic, and metaphysics were bounded. Art, too, was a form of technology, operated for certain ends; notably to enmesh people in relations and interactions sought or prescribed by transcend agents.
The transcendental element of technology encouraged and sustained the creative factors required for social prosperity. This is because technology was not a vehicle for achieving effective automatic control, but for the manifestation of transcendental power and manners of submission (Nadarajan. G. 2007) inherent to those forces that provide the motive power of art.
The difference of intention in technological application, between submission and control is of great importance, as it implies a critical deviation in the production and operation of mechanisms.
Such mechanism, that uses manners of submission rather than methods of control, is the automaton of St. Anna's garden, which manifests itself as the fountain of the garden. In conclusion, the revision of the fountain in the garden of Hortus Conclusus, allows the reintegration of the technology of art in order to be used as an essential factor of the integrated ecosystem.
On Culture and Ecology
Hortus Conclusus considers that biodiversity loss should not be seen as an autonomous issue of human intervention, but also of human unilateralism. In particular, a successful strategy for sustainable use and restoration of nature requires a thorough study of intraspecific diversity, of human, which is able to maintain the the eco-space's interspecific component.
In the past, ecosystems were shaped by a chronology of sowing and harvesting rituals, in a unified landscape, where parallel levels, agricultural, sacred, commercial and cultural, organized an integrated system. Their organization was based on the intraspecific diversity of man who acted horizontally at all levels.
However, many of these communities have abandoned their ecosystems due to the modernization of the production chain, without taking into account the degradation of nature and culture.
In modern communities, a healthy ecological network requires, in addition to the above, a number of additional elements that go beyond the standard biotic and abiotic factors. In this spirit, an inclusive perspective should view such ecologies as an integrated system, with acknowledging that its development presupposes a historical process; this process takes place within a cultural context and demands the coherence of biomorphic, psychotropic, geomorphic, and metamorphic context, bonded in a morphogenetic field.
Seeking to enroot the historical process into the ecosystem, Hortus Conclusus appropriates a byzantine iconographic and literary prototype, known as The Garden of St. Anna, which depicts an exceptional module of an integrated ecosystem, to create the mixed reality garden.
In relation to the event (Annunciation) that occurred in Anna's garden, its description incorporates various morphological elements to create a metamorphic event (parthenogenesis). Collateral phenomena, related to the latter, such as morphic resonance and auto-poiesis are organically embedded in the garden, highlighting the imperative of intraspecific enhancement towards an interspecific behaviour in an ecosystem.
The recent pandemic crisis has leveraged UNESCO to stress the importance of valuing the knowledge of indigenous peoples and local communities, towards the establishment of a new pact among species of the living world. This assessment calls the historical path to be inextricably linked to the new pact, to halt the loss of biodiversity. Hortus Conclusus advocates this pact through a revised ecosystem, based on the historical framework, of the artistic and literary expression of the byzantine garden.
Plateaux of Reality
The work has three stages for the realisation of the mixed reality. The radical change proposed by the project concerns the virtual continuum and in particular its first entry. Specifically, in the serial structure of the continuum, the inputs A and B are at the poles of mixed reality.
The standard process of virtual reality is the entry of the physical world, as the input A and its simulation, as an enhanced reality, in B position, that is, the virtual layer.
However, in the present work, the virtual world becomes the first input, and the physical world simulates the virtual.
With this shift, one trusts the cognitive schema of the artwork (virtual), in the virtual continuum, while throughout the range of the latter, new vistas of ecological consciousness can arise, which are considered imperative for transhumanism. Alongside, this shift changes the architecture of the layers, and therefore the stratification from overlapped turns to parallel.
LAYER I : The Noetic Garden
The first layer of the work concerns the research that constitutes the topology, technology, ecology, and economy of Anna’s garden, aiming at the collection of data, the analysis of its inherent syncretic nature, expressing a new ecosystem resulting from the produced metadata of the byzantine artwork. The result of the research is the dynamic mapping of the garden, as the top(i)ography of its ecosystem, that serves as an open-access repository for the harvesting of metadata from the noetic garden. The second phase of this layer regards the dynamic mapping to Fuzzy cognitive mapping (FCM). The FCM top(i)ography, depicts algorithmically the visualization of the clusters of metadata and its associations. It creates an integrated model of the garden's ecology by processing a neuro-fuzzy system while rendering the relational organisation of the noetic garden.
LAYER II : The Virtual Garden
The virtual garden takes place in an immersive dome, which acts as a greenhouse for all the metadata collected (biological, technological, artistic, natural, and metaphysical), creating an interactive artwork and deploying the Schema of a hybrid ecosystem, that formulates the physical garden.
Based on the noetic garden and FCM top(i)iography, the virtual garden restores and redesigns the key iconographic and literary elements of the Byzantine prototype, creating an interactive, immersive environment. The artwork is created, following digitally, the whole process of Byzantine fresco painting. The Byzantine technique of stratification and the transformation of the fourth dimension from the perspective view to the transcendental one, transfer the essential contribution of the Byzantine prototype to its modern manifestation. Into the immersive dome, the virtual garden is shown with a prismatic (mirrored) projection, to apply the method of Apollonius conical sections, what we now call parables, eclipses, and hyperbola, and which was the Byzantine perception.
LAYER III : The Physical Garden
With the planting of hybrid biodiverse elements, agro-cultural, plant-metaphysical, and psycho- physic, the physical garden emerges a new ecosystem, which is based on the virtual garden. In this sensate garden, the living substance of plants, enhances hybridity, affecting the human condition on many levels, physical and metaphysical. There, the living substance of the iconographic flora and fauna together with the other natural elements, water, air, humidity, etc., the constructing materials and technology create an enhanced ecosystem. capable for metabolism and growth. Here, the vegetation creates an intensive interaction with the intangible nature of the garden, acquiring cultural, spiritual, and aesthetic coherence.
The Garden(s) in the mix
The physical and virtual gardens can interact, receiving and transmitting data selected by the users of each garden in real-time. The natural garden is in excellent balance with the virtual one, in a particularly favorable approach to the natural environment, since it contains elements, that otherwise, the garden could not metabolite. In this unique continuum between the virtual and the real, the flora of the natural garden can restore some of its properties, which have been overlooked and can be re-evaluated for the needs of an expanded ecosystem. At the same time, the fauna, resulting from visual and textual sources, can enrich the biodiversity of the natural garden. In the garden's mixed reality, both environments can be defined as autopoietic systems, that is, they can maintain themselves by creating their own parts and eventually further components. This is due to their prototype, the byzantine theme of St. Anna's garden.
This garden is an enclosed topological space that continuously generates and specifies its own eco-space, through its operation as a system of production of its own components, and does this in an endless turnover of components. Because of their autopoietic performance, their interaction causes their reconstruction based on maintaining their automation process. However, the changes caused by these interactions is an observers' interpretation, if the automated organisation remains transparent to them.
Hortus Conclusus Council
The work on the three levels of gardens is interdisciplinary. For this reason, a Council is established that will enter the data in the noetic garden and will contribute to their cultivation in the virtual and physical garden. The board consists of interdisciplinary artists and theorists who are committed to maintaining the levels of syncretism in each garden, that is, their auto-poetic organization, during their interaction, throughout the project.
Katerina Karoussos, GR
Dr. Karoussos is an artist specialised in hybrid and virtual frescoes. She holds a PhD from Planetary Collegium, Plymouth University. From 2012-2016 she was the Director of the I-Node of the Planetary Collegium, the Greek node for doctoral and postdoctoral studies (School of Arts and Media) of Plymouth University. From 2004 until 2015 she worked as a freelancer in the Athens School of Fine Arts. In 2020 she founded The Karoussos Archives. Dr. Karoussos has worked, next to Yiannis Karoussos at the two major monumental post-Byzantine artworks, the St. Panteleimon in Athens and St. Andrew in Patras in Greece.
Niki Tsironis, GR
Historian - Byzantinist
Dr. Niki Tsironis is a historian – Byzantinist. She is working at the Institute of Historical Research of the National Hellenic Research Foundation. She holds a Ph.D. form the University of London and she is an Associate in Byzantine Studies at the Centre for Hellenic Studies of Harvard University. She is also the founding member of AINOS Cultural Society. She is collaborating with Harvard University, the University of Oxford, the University of Winchester and other research centres.
Maria Mavroudi, US
Byzantine History Professor
Dr. Maria Mavroudi is a Professor of Byzantine History and Classics at the University of California, Berkeley. She formerly taught at Princeton University. She holds a PhD in Byzantine Studies from Harvard University and a bachelor degree in Philology from the University of Thessaloniki. With an extensive list of published papers in established Academic journals, her research focuses on the relation between Byzantium and the Arabs, the medieval reception of ancient Greek learning in the Byzantine and the Islamic worlds, the history of Byzantine science and survival and transformation of Byzantine culture after 1453.
Guto Nobrega, BR
Dr. Guto Nóbrega is Doctor of Philosophy by Planetary Collegium, School of Art and Media, University of Plymouth, UK. His doctoral thesis has been funded by CAPES - BRAZIL.He is artist and researcher with MA in Communication, Technology and Aesthetics by ECO-UFRJ - Brazil and is Bachelor in Engraving by the Escola de Belas Artes - UFRJ - Brazil. Since 1995 he lectures at the UFRJ-Brazil, where he currently holds a position as Adjunct Professor and coordinates the space NANO - Nucleous of Art and New Organisms, a research lab for exploring the intersection of art science and technology. His works have been presented widely in exhibitions and conferences.
Lila Moore, IS - GB
Dr. Lila Moore is a lecturer, theorist, film-maker and mixed reality artist specialising in the field of Technoetic Arts.
She holds a PhD from Middlesex University and a post-doc from the Planetary Collegium of Plymouth University. She is a lecturer at Zefat Academy College, Zefa (Safed) and at The Alef Trust, UK. Dr. Moore is the founder of The Cybernetic Futures Institute, an independent academy for the exploration of technoetic arts.
John Bardakos, FR-CN
Mathematician - Intermedia Artist
John Bardakos is an artist and researcher. He studied Mathematics, Digital, and Traditional Media focused in Applied and Fine Arts. He is developing his PhD between the Athens School of Fine Arts and the University Paris 8.
He set up and managed as a co-owner and artistic director three new media studios. He taught in a variety of seminars, workshops and departments in Athens, Paris, and Shanghai. Mr. Bardakos joined the Roy Ascott Technoetic Arts Studio in 2017 (DeTao Masters Academy & SIVA University) as the Course Coordinator and as a Senior Lecturer for the undergraduate program Technoetic Arts at the Shanghai Institute of visual arts and in 2019 cofounded the new media studio Rho in Shanghai.
Maria Dimaki, GR
Dr. Maria Dimaki is a doctor of Biological Sciences from the University of Athens. Her main scientific interests are herpetology and ornithology. She studied biology at the University of Patras and has been working at the Goulandris Natural History Museum in Athens since 1996. She is in charge of the Department of Terrestrial Zoology, and Museum’s Collections Manager.
She has participated in many research projects on biodiversity, fauna and protected areas management. Also she has a number of publications on museum collections (entomological and mammal collections). She is a founding member and member of the Board of the Hellenic Herpetological Society, as well as a member of the Hellenic Zoological Society and the Hellenic Entomological Society.
Dionysios Mermygkas, GR
Dionysios Mermygkas is an Environmentalist, graduate of the University of the Aegean. He is in charge of the Botanical Department of the Goulandris Museum, of which he has been a member since 2002. His interests and his scientific work are focused on Systematic Botany and Phytosociology. He has worked in many projects related to the study and protection of the Greek flora, the monitoring of the Natura network habitats, the Greek wetlands, specific environmental studies etc. In the framework of his work at the Museum, he curates the Herbarium of the Museum, manages its digital database and supports the Museum’s educational, exhibition and research work.
Hortus Conclusus Partners
The Mediterranean Institute for Nature and Anthropos (MedINA)
From its establishment in 2003, the Mediterranean Institute for Nature and Anthropos (MedINA) has been working at the crossroads of nature and culture. MedINA focuses on four priority targets–the cultural values of wetlands, landscapes, sacred natural sites and cultural practices– and is working on integrated approaches for the management and safeguarding of environmentally and culturally sensitive areas. Its interdisciplinary team consists of scientists from the fields of environment and sustainability, ecology, forestry, spatial planning, archaeology, anthropology, political sciences and psychology and its main geographical focus is the Mediterranean region.
Goulandris Museum of Natural History| GAIA Centre
Goulandris Museum of Natural History is a public welfare institution, devoted to study, conservation and protection of natural environment. Ever since its foundation it has mapped a pioneer route, a new rapprochement between man and natural environment. It has developed efficient scientific activities for the confrontation and inhibition of environmental threats against the planet and for the rehabilitation of natural resources for the preservation of life. In the meantime, it has formulated a new education of general interest for the re-integration of people into the functions and economy of Nature. The creations of GAIA Centre in 1999 marked the significant expansion of the Museum’s research interest in two sectors, with the creation of fully equipped laboratories of Soil Ecology, Biotechnology and Bioanalytical Chemistry.
Laboratories linked to Hortus Conclusus
ii. Terrestrial Zoology
The Ainos Cultural Society
The Ainos Cultural Society was founded in 1999 following the tradition of the Patristic and Byzantine Society of Oxford University (founded in 1993). Its aim is the promotion of Patristic and Byzantine Studies as well as the organization of seminars, conferences, exhibitions and projects on culture and research for the dissemination of knowledge and cultural heritage.
Verga - Messenian Mani
Peloponnese - Greece
Tel: +30 21 3038 3110