A Tour of the Cosmos in Bytes and Atoms by The Imaginary Foundation

Juxtapoz // Wednesday, 20 Apr 2011

Installation Fuses the Wonder of Art and Science
A Tour of the Cosmos in Bytes and Atoms by The Imaginary Foundation

The mysterious think tank and art apparel collective known as The Imaginary Foundation recently created an installation entitled The Undivided Mind, which merged the seemingly opposing worlds of art and science. The San Francisco gallery, covered wall to ceiling in scribbled chalkboard scientific diagrams and mathematical equations attracted hundreds of curious "imaginarians" on the opening night in late 2010. We interviewed the IF in our May 2011 issue, part of which you can read below.


Today, The Imaginary Foundation shares the installation with the rest of the world as an interactive virtual gallery, found at UndividedMind.com.  The environment is a simulation of the real-world installation. Blooming with form and colour and embedded with interactivity, the tour functions as an informal learning tool—clicking on equations or paintings takes you down a rabbit hole of scientific discovery, into a sea of absorbing links and video. We invite you to share our curiosity and explore The Undivided Mind.


The Director of The Imaginary Foundation had longed dreamed of creating a physical environment to portray the wondrous intersection of Science and Art. Whilst fine-tuning his symmetrical harmony inducer one night, he remembered the words of Leonard Shlain that so eloquently describe this concept in his book, Art and Physics: Parallel Visions in Space, Time, and Light:

"Of the many human disciplines, there are few that could seem more divergent than art and science. The artist employs image and metaphor; the scientist uses number and equation. Art creates illusions meant to evoke emotion, while science engages in the pursuit of empirical verification…"



There is, to some degree, a physiological cause for this apparent divergence: the two halves, or hemispheres, of the brain. The right side of the brain is responsible for emotions and intuition, the left for logic and reason. Yet the notion of two brains gives rise to the function of one mind. Perhaps it is this one “undivided mind” that presents a way forward through the monumental cultural changes we now face, enabling us to surf this dynamic moment in history from a platform of balance and symmetry.

The group is currently seeking venues in other cities that may be suitable for the installation.


An excerpt from the May 2011 Issue interview with The Director, of The Imaginary Foundation:

What is it about The Imaginary Foundation that makes you wake up in the morning? What compels you to work with this foundation? –Rebecca Renberg

The unquenchable yearning to experience nature's elegant truths and her exquisite interrelationships. I feel it's profound that atoms have assembled into entities which are somehow able to ponder their own origins. I am humbled by each and every moment that I'm conscious enough to engage in this mysterious and poetic byproduct of cosmic evolution. IF we at The Imaginary Foundation can imbue our work with the most minuscule twinkle of this reverence, and in doing so inspire someone to act with the strength and courage to accomplish something positive, then this is worth getting out of bed for.



I know that the power of imagination is infinite, but at what moment does an idea come into reality and are all of our individual realities part of a big idea? –Adolfo Ramirez

IF, as Carl Jung posited, we share a collective unconscious, then surely we share a collective imagination as well. Writer Steven Johnson confirmed this when, after researching the history of good ideas, he found that individual epiphanies are almost never the source of insight. Breakthrough ideas are inherently social creations that come about after a period of maturation within the collective womb. Isaac Asimov noted that, “The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the only one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’, but rather, ‘Hmm... that’s funny...’”

Each of us is a pattern within a larger social metapattern, and we each have a unique vantage point from which we view our world. As we connect with others and share our individual models of the world with each other, our shared model grows through a gradual process that few can see. The “epiphany” moment occurs when a highly connected mind looks around and notices what the cognitive ant hill has been working on. He or she gives a name to that which has already been built, but that simple yet profound act of identification sends waves of awareness through the global brain, solidifying it within our social memory.



In terms of business entrepreneurship, what do you think is next for our country/the world/society in general?  –Rebecca Renberg

The evolution of technology has morphed the relationship between consumer and creator forever. The communal ownership of the means of production, the production of ideas at least, is a reality today. But I feel we're experiencing a seismic shift in many aspects of human culture and the shift in business is part of a much larger process—the birth of a supermassively parallel collective consciousness. This "Global Mind" may still be a little groggy, but it is clearly waking up. As Pierre Teilhard de Chardin said to me, "Just as Earth once covered itself with a film of interdependent living organisms which we call the biosphere, so mankind's combined achievements are forming a global network of collective mind." The monumental consequences of this unfolding process and the labyrinth of realtime feedback within the process make it almost unfathomable to speculate on outcomes. Our future cannot be parsed into the simple binary of a utopia or dystopia. The complex, volatile, and chaotic nature of the future we're beginning to glimpse is as daunting as it is encouraging. However, I remain positive. We may be stumbling, fumbling, flawed primates, but when we work together, we are primates that can fly!


How did you come about this idea of the Undivided Mind, merging the often opposing tension that art and science creates? What has been your journey? –Rebecca Renberg

It has been a tumultuous, exhilarating, and often absurdly funny ride for us all here at The Imaginary Foundation. A process mediated by many hours of conversation, dialog, downloading, and engagement with a multitude of rational and fantastic thinkers. There has been lots of trial and error and a litany of mistakes, but I feel it is only by embracing this childlike experimentation fearlessly that our undivided minds may one day create a more undivided world.



More information about The Imaginary Foundation can be found at ImaginaryFoundation.com

Buy the May Issue of Juxtapoz here.