Morphogenesis and generic dynamical landscapes

The imitation of growing processes is one of the leading principles in the study of morphogenesis. This perspective can also inform morphogenetic design, since one can see structures and processes as shared features by nature, mathematics, and art. This lecture will consider an image from theoretical biology - the epigenetic landscape - from the point of view of its possible expression in mathematical terms. Intrinsic difficulties of this enterprise will be analysed on the basis of a micro-historical account of a debate between two eminent students of this possibility: Conrad Hal Waddington and René Thom. Open questions emerging from this analysis are aimed at establishing a dialogue with designers, also on the basis of a performative design experience of material dynamic processes inspired by the image of landscape thought as a morphodynamical dispositive.

Sara Franceschelli is associate professor in epistemology at the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, and a member of the IXXI, Rhône Alpes Complex Systems Institute. She was trained as a physicist at the University of Bologna and holds a PhD in epistemology and history of science on the construction of physical meaning for the transition to turbulence. Franceschelli is also in charge of the course of morpho-structure at the Ecole nationale supérieure des Arts Décoratifs, Paris. Her current work focuses on morphogenesis and dynamical systems, and on the figure of the epigenetic landscape. Her most recent research, 'Morphogenesis and dynamical systems. A view instantiated by a performative design approach', is featured in 'Imagine Math 2: Between Culture and Mathematics'.

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