Paolo Monti is that remarkable artist who conveys the insights gained in the latest theories of the natural sciences in his artistic work. He goes beyond mere pictorial representation , to a dynamic concept of observer and observed; man and universe. This is entirely in line with the vision that is currently emerging at the leading edge of the sciences. The vision emerging in the sciences is a source of meaning for our lives and orientation for our hopes and expectations. How we relate to each other and to nature depends not only the accidents of our upbringing and daily encounters, but also on our basic concepts of nature, of live, and of the thinking and feeling human being. Whether we know it or not, these concepts are subtly influenced by what we know of the world picture projected by the sciences. If we believe that nature is a lifeless mechanism, a collection of passive rocks, we will come to believe that we are entitled to do with it as we please, so long as we do not go against our interests. Our choice of technologies will reflect these beliefs: we shall opt for powerful machines to extract, transform, use, and discard the energies and materials found in our environment. If we look on animals and other people as but more complex machines, we shall manipulate them, too: we will cut out their disfunctioning parts and organs, splice up their genes, or rewire the circuitries of their brain. We shall also manipulate peopleís social and political behavior, their labour, even their lifestyles, consumption patterns and leisure-time activities.
Yet the current wave of change sweeping through the natural sciences leaves behind the last remnants of the mechanistic view of life, mind and universe. Space and time are united as the dynamic background of the observable universe; matter is vanishing as a fundamental feature of reality, retreating before energy; and continuous fields are replacing discrete particles as the basic elements of an energy-bathed cosmos. And the final destiny of this world is no longer a lapse into the grayness of a lukewarm, empty and eternally unchanging nothingness, but could well be cyclic self-renewal in a self-creating, self-energizing, and self-organizing mega-universe.
Nature -the universe itself- is not a passive rock or a lifeless machine. People are not complex machines, and not separate from each other and from their environment but profoundly though subtly linked. The entire cosmos throbs with the creative energy of self-organization, constantly evolving, with periodic bursts of explosive innovation. And everything we behold enters into subtle but constant interaction with us, the beholders. If this would be the concept of man and universe we entertain, we would not relate to each other and to our environment in the mechanistic and thoughtless way we do today.
The concept of a subtly interconnected world in and through which we are intimately linked-to each other and to the universe, assimilated by our intellect and embraced by our heart, may be part of humanityís response to the challenges that we now face in common. Art has an important role in articulating this response through its own esthetic medium. We must be grateful to Paolo Monti for showing us, through his art, that we are part of the world around us, part of an ever-changing reality that may be kaleidoscopic on the surface, but has meaning and significance on a deeper, more scientifically informed or esthetically intuitive and sophisticated level.
Ervin Laszlo, founder of Club of Budapest, was born in Budapest in 1932. He is a member of Club of Rome, the International Academy of Science, scientific consultant to UNESCO, rector of the Academy of Vienna. He is a philosopher, scientist, pianist and author of more than 50 books. He has lectured at numerous universities including Yale, Princeton and the New York State University.