Monday, February 14, 2011

Entropy - Nathan's Article

In this article, 'Entropy Made Visible', Robert Smithson discusses entropy--for what it is, for what it might look like and the forms it has taken, and how we as human beings tend to deal with it.

I can't say that I found this interview to be particularly interesting. Do you know what it's like to read about something you barely think about, subconsciously know, and find yourself just feeling mildly validated by the information you read up on it? That's kind of what I underwent. On a positive note, the interview did succeed in making the meaning of the word clearer to me. I always believed that entropy was a wearing away, when really it's more of a collapse or spread, like the shells of an egg that's dropped from a countertop or a bag of marbles that's fallen over.

But humans always seem to be fighting entropy, whether it's the erosion at the beaches or the collapse of old historical monuments. People have this fascination with preservation. I still find it funny that some of the dead here are pumped full of embalming fluid to keep them from rotting for at least a few more days. What's so wrong with letting things crumble to sand again? It only provides more material for what's to follow. Like mentioned in class, it's the circle of life. What is must cease to be in order to make way for what will be. Entropy is the cosmic fashion of natural balance. 

So I guess that would help to answer Nathan's first question, but only partly. When it comes to creation towards completion, it's something a lot of people consider. Whether you're making art work or constructing a building, you're always thinking about what will become of it when it's completed. The moment a human being is born, they are dying. So as humans, we are well aware of mortality and the ephemeral nature of things considering how long everything has been around up to this point. I believe it's important to be aware of these things, so we don't waste time trying to save something that has been trying to waste away for years. Think of what you're preventing when you do. Something else is trying to be born from the chaos, but you're busy trying to keep the pieces together. 

And as for the energy crisis and the floundering housing projects, I do believe they're effected by the cultural climate in both the unavoidable and ubiquitous form. Every action we make effects something in turn, even at the slightest. Then there's the Niagra Falls, which people intend to sculpt into something that looks less manmade. Just about anyone who reads that would have a laugh. It's another example of how people are often trying to outfox entropy. 

Why is it that entropy is something that must be beaten at every turn? What do we fear about it? Does it have to do with our own fear of passing on, or does something else play into it? Are we just naturally inclined to organize rather than destroy?

I find myself fighting it all the time, even in my work. When something doesn't turn out right, I try to fix it. When I stepped on one of my tiny sculptures the other day by accident, breaking its ears, I tried to fix it to no avail because a shard was missing. And I was so frustrated, but when I stopped to think about it, I could just make a better one instead now that I've had more time to work with the medium since then. Still, I try to recycle. I hope the house I grew up in doesn't come crashing down in the next hurricane season. There are some things that can't be replaced, and when I think about it, I can see why entropy is viewed as this demon or devil, thwarting you at every turn.

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