Archive for ‘Systems’ Category

Modeling – The Shape of Finance, the World and Everything

Posted by Robert Weitz on February 2, 2009 1:25 PM


Product designers/artists are very reliant on physical realities, whereas poets and mathematicians can be more abstract and ephemeral. The designer is often charged with fulfilling a specific need, like “paint that ceiling and tell a religious story” in the case of the Sistine Chapel, or “let’s try and fly” in the case of the Wright Brothers.

Typically, the artist/designer does some inquiry, prepares sketches and then executes the design, and in some cases, produces the final product. This method, probably invented in the craft guilds and later extended into the industrial revolution, relies on a carefully executed dialectic that begins with a cause, is interpreted by a creative mind and then produced often according to cultural precepts and traditions.

The resulting form, whether a religious building or an Apple iPhone, is the result of cultural narratives, artistic nuance and creative imagination.


While great theoretical strides were made by radicals like the Dadaists, Fluxists, and say, John Cage, the simple structure of need, creative imagination and production remained fairly well intact until recently.

The work of German artist Andreas Nicolas Fischer exemplifies a fairly bold departure from the typical design process. It offers a glimpse of a future where the designer/artist envisions and creates with no natural object as a cause, and where the designer/artist designs the process, not the final object.

Fischer “concerns himself with the visualization of data, which normally lies beyond human perception.” His role is to set up a generative process that relies on data sources that have their own “shape” and evolve over time.


His drawings, sculptures and installations are the result of a process he sets up so that the data generates a form. Of course the artist enters the mix as the one who sets the thing up, but the resulting forms are neither random nor planned. They are formal demonstrations of natural phenomena, and the resulting form demonstrates data points collected from nature.

I found that his forms tell stories, are emotional and in some cases, are profound. I’m sure that people more familiar with the data points he is describing, say his modeling of financial markets to a financial analyst, would be able to recount specific narratives not unlike the faithful gazing at the chapel ceiling.