Unreal Nature

June 20, 2009

Con-Sequence vs Sequence

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 8:04 am

I was going to post anyway about this Art of Science contest, but Felix Grant’s post of today caused me to realize that, first, my two favorites from the contest were sequences, but second, they are fundamentally different kinds of sequences from those that have been the subject of our various ongoing posts about sequences (find links in Felix’s post).

His post, Passing the batôn (damn you, Felix, for making me spend five minutes digging out my AllChars key to do that ô) — is an excellent example of a typical use of sequencing with still photographs. Compare that to this entry from the Art of Science contest:

AoS Submission

Social Evolution in Cell Groups

Carey Nadell, Joao Xavier, and Kevin Foster
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Expanding clusters of cells are commonplace in the natural world, and depending on the context, they may be beneficial or harmful to humans. Understanding the impact of cell groups on their environment requires that we understand evolution within such cell populations.

Some cell behaviors — especially those that give the cell group its ability to exploit environmental resources — are cooperative in nature, and whether or not such behaviors evolve depends on how the group is structured. When genetic relatives are clustered together, cooperative cell behaviors like extracellular enzyme secretion can evolve more easily. Secreted enzymes, in turn, may allow a pathogenic bacterial colony to become more virulent, or a nascent cancerous tumor to become malignant. 

Using a computer simulation framework that implements independent cells in explicit space, we have shown that the internal structure of cell groups can depend very heavily on the environment. In the three images shown here, the red and blue cell types do not differ in any way other than their color, which is used to determine whether a cell group remains well-mixed, or whether related cells tend to cluster together. 

From left to right, environmental nutrient concentration was decreased from ubiquitous, to moderate, to sparse. As nutrient concentration decreases, the tendency for different genetic lineages to spontaneously segregate increases, which favors the evolution of cooperation. This result may inform our understanding of pathogenic cell groups, in which cooperation between cells is harmful for their host.

Or, a compare this single still that contains, within the thing itself, a cause/effect time sequence:



Henry S. Horn (faculty)
Dept. of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

This is the basal disk from a Redcedar tree that was in competition with a neighboring White Ash. The annual growth rings show that the Redcedar grew well for about 45 years, and then slowed dramatically when the White Ash overtopped it. Markings on the disk record the sizes of roots heading toward neighboring trees and saplings of varied sizes. The heartwood calls to mind an angel, surrounded by a lighter nimbus of sapwood.

Because these are scientific images, they are strongly cause/effect; that’s the obvious reason for or connection between the pictures. What is the reason or “binding” in the sequences in Felix’s post, by comparison?

All of his photographic sequences have been one-thing-after-another, but they have not been cause > effect. The two science contest examples are cause > effect, or consequence as opposed to simple sequence. That would mean that what ties our photographic non-con-sequences together would be … what? Correlation or purely commonality of content? If so, what role does time play (which is a necessary qualifier for something to be a sequence).




  1. I love both sequences. And both of them share the developmental idea of the lad who talked about a sequence of maquettes leading to a final form.

    I’m not sure, though, now that I begin to think it through, whether I agree that there is no cause > effect linkage in the image sequences. I’m sure that Dr C would argue for a deterministic electrochemical causative link between one moment and the next, leading the an inexorable chain linking any two images in a sequence of the same person. I don’t buy that, but I do think that there is a chreostochastic spray of causative chains and that the single images in a sequence of a single person are strung like beads on the path actually taken by that person.

    In Laura’s self portrait sequence she identifies three of the stations of the cross (I thought Dr C would like that metaphor!) through which her alter ego passes (“Non believer”, “I wonder”, “Jealousy”) as she puts on her face, and leaves the others implicit. The process of making up is the metaphoric manifestation of the cause > effect thread upon which the image beads are strung.

    Comment by Felix Grant — June 20, 2009 @ 6:11 pm

  2. PS: I feel very embarrassed and guilty at having caused you to spend five minutes sorting out “ô” when it should have been “â”…

    Comment by Felix Grant — June 20, 2009 @ 6:13 pm

  3. In some ways, the inconclusiveness is the point in the art sequences — as compared to the scientific images where the conclusion is the point. The artistic photos are there as a beginning — the core of a snowball when you’re starting a snowman ; the scientifc ones are there to (reach an) end; the nut that you get to after cracking and peeling your way down to the center.

    Damn you, Felix, for spelling baton (which looks fine to me, without any frosting) with an ô instead of an â. (I’m always happy to have an excuse to say, “Damn you, Felix.” — there, I got to do it twice more. My day is complete.)

    Comment by unrealnature — June 20, 2009 @ 7:45 pm

  4. I take your point on the difference between reception of sequences. Though perhaps I suspect that humans taking aesthetic pleasure in the science sequences (as I do when looking at your examples above) actually perceive them in artistic terms and disregard the difference…?

    Still thinking on my feet … Duane Michals’ sequences are very specifically constructed “to (reach an) end” and so, it seems to me, was Laura’s?

    Either way … both viewpoints enrich my thinking about sequences, for which thank you! I am delighted to have repaid you for the enrichment by giving you the opportunity to say “Damn you, Felix” twice and thus completing your day :-)

    On the question of millinery fashions in vowels …

    While my â chooses to keep its hat on, and my o chooses its equally traditional bareheadedness, I am not doctrinaire on the matter.

    If your baton wishes both of its vowels to feel the freedom of the wind through their hair, that is fine by me – good for it and them, I say!

    And if those vowels choose to cross dress, the ô wearing the a’s hat, why not? Always assuming, of course, that both are equally willing and consenting partners in the practice: I could not condone the o stealing the a’s hat, nor the a forcing it onto the o.

    Comment by Felix Grant — June 21, 2009 @ 3:23 am

  5. PS: if coërcion were involved in the transfer of chapeau(x), Bâtonhomme might have to become involved…

    Comment by Felix Grant — June 21, 2009 @ 3:26 am

  6. PPS: Bâtonhomme is not to be confused with ChauveSourisFemme (who is more in Dr C’s and Ray Girvan’s area of expertise), nor with Chauve-souris Comme un Fou which is an album by Pain de Viande (of which, again, Ray knows more than I – as, probably, does Dr C).

    Comment by Felix Grant — June 21, 2009 @ 3:39 am

  7. PPPS: Having mentioned Ray, I ought to acknowledge that he would probably side with you on the depetasusisation of vowels and other related matters. (I include the word depetasusisation purely in the hope of getting points from Dr C, to go with those which I accrued from “dendrophilia” back along.)

    Comment by Felix Grant — June 21, 2009 @ 3:45 am

  8. Dâmn yôü, Félix! You stércôrâcéôüs ônôlâtry-ér, yôu jüméntôüs illywhâckér. Süré, câll in that lôgômâchôüs déipnôsôphist, Girvân, to süppôrt yôur mümpsimüs clâims! Yôü müst think I’m â gôbémôüché.

    As for gétting pôints frôm Dr. C (whô is a tâppén in the bôwéls of ârt) — I âm the sciôlist in chârgé of pôint giving in this blôg!

    [sequence] bâton > batôn > bât’n o!

    Comment by unrealnature — June 21, 2009 @ 6:55 am

  9. R􃣡

    Comment by Felix Grant — June 21, 2009 @ 7:10 am

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