Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Fruit of Error

It's been raining all day in Arizona, and I was wrong in my previous post, two exceedingly rare events, both of which I am OK with, since both will yield fruit. By error and informed step-wise revision we make progress, and it was in that spirit that I stopped by the Scottsdale Waterfront this morning just to verify what I wrote about the lack of floating of the Flowing Overlapping Gesture (by Fausto Fernandez) exhibit in the canal. I had a nagging hunch that instead of glancing in the general direction while driving past the area on the way to work, it might pay off to stop by and see what was happening. I wish I had productive nagging thoughts like that more often: it floats! The basis of the previous post was seeing that the section of the chain of foamy shapes that flowed up and over the bridge was gone, and I assumed that the rest had been removed as well. However, on closer examination on foot, I found that most of it was intentionally floating. I may have just been fortunate enough to catch the last day, not sure. But it looked like this:

Writers from Sir Thomas More to John Gray have discounted the notion that society is progressing toward some ultimate or final end of achievement or perfection through various mechanisms of progress. Wherever we go, there we still are, with our weaknesses, appetites, peculiarly evolved physical forms, emotions and all. Yet, we have achieved actual progress in many specific realms if not in the grand scheme of things. Medicine, science, technology, even bicycle design, have all advanced in their own ways, yet they all share in common the same characteristic: these advances have been accomplished through trial and error, through formulation of hypotheses and testing these with experiment and investigation, and then revising them into new ideas to begin the cycle anew. One of the many negatives of this method is that it relies on failure (of a sort) and the following opportunity to examine the bits of the ruin you've made for threads of new direction. You never know for certain how it's going to turn out, else you wouldn't need to conduct the experiment in the first place. The fruit of error is sometimes soured by the cost of failure. But on the other hand, a new theory, an elegant proof, a simple formula that embraces the flow of planets and the spark of atoms, the possibility of attaining these ends explains the urge of walking out in the rain to see for yourself, possibly to encounter the unexpected and unintentional idea that changes everything. 

A mistaken conclusion about a work of art floating in a canal. The artwork itself a reference to maintenance and dialog about life in the desert city around the canal, floating in the newly cleaned canal, yet with a piece of unintentional debris caught in it, almost becoming a work of art itself.


There's a video on the Scottsdale blog which conveys what was intended by the curators. It's well-done and shows the white amurs and the other related performance art well. But it omits exploration of Flowing Overlapping Gesture, and was made before this action-packed week of storms, mud,  and unintended juxtapositions, from which sometimes we learn more than what was planned. I wonder how "Hindsight is 20/20" is holding up in tonight's 40 mph winds. I think I'll go have a look outside to see if a quick ride is in order to check it out. Get up. Go ride.



  1. Ah, okay, that's kinda cool. It starts on one side, goes over the pedestrian bridge and continues on the other.

  2. Before the flood, there was also a section that flowed out of the canal and over the bridge, but they disconnected that, probably so the foam didn't pull the bridge down or something like that.


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