Proposal essay

What is Entropy?

Difficult to answer in a short way …
“Entropy is one of the most mysterious of all the concepts dealt with by scientists. The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that the entropy of a given situation cannot decrease unless there is a greater increase elsewhere. Thus entropy has the unusual property that it is not conserved, as energy is, but monotonically increases over time. The Second Law of Thermodynamics is often regarded as one of science’s most glorious laws. And also one of them the most difficult to understand.”(From MIT site)
In order to keep focused on this matter and try to look back on what I have done as final and visual work, in video or installation0.1, my aim in this year of research is to find same of the true notions of Entropy.
London is probably one of the most riches cities in the world were I could think about this matter. Its funny that such a big city becomes so small after all it means comparing the fact that creates so many population groups from all over the world, and many different environments. It’s a very complex city, and for me constitutes a major challenge to travel around, and find out conceptual or visual inputs to do my work about Entropy.
The second law of thermodynamics includes a complex system that maybe can be similar to a social global behaviour, in particularly shown in the city of London. This system of unavailability of energy to do work could be reflected in a feeling of loss of Time that is produced by the big scale that city has. As a reaction to this, normally are created isolated systems. These are communities with spontaneous changes reflected in characteristics as temperature, pressure and density, in a metaphorical sense. Doesn’t mean, as J.Floyd said, that this disperse of energy only generates a chaos or disorder; actually the Entropy is more similar with the notion or measure the effort to do work. Those communities really create a work of survival inside the city. These are same of the fundamental words and sequence that I would like to explore in my research and work.

My main objective is to increase my work with a substantial contextualization and meaning.
Get in to a serious knowledge of what Entropy means in these days, and for that I really hope to have the help of same physicists in the field, so my research doesn’t have to be only personal. I would like to extend it to a team, if is that possible.
Create a relationship between concept and matter and experience in the field.
I pretend to explore another notions inside Entropy, like Time and Space. J.Floyd defends that Entropy is not propriety of matter, so I have to analyses this matter in a sense of the virtual.
The main is reach to same visual answers to this questions: what is Entropy (in the meaning of several areas), what is Time, Space, how Entropy effect both? Energy and Effort and can we visualize or measure this effort of recovering time and lost space?
What I’ll do is to develop concepts that go further than scientific definition, which is really important, but I think only a dedicated physicist can do it professionally1.1.
For instance, in the Philosophical analyses of the ninenghten century appears a notion of an order Time and direction of Time , so it will be important to reflect about all this definitions inside several areas of studies and try to approaches them in a comun point.

As a metaphor, Entropy starts by being a curious matter for many writers, artists, Philosophers searching for political and social sense in this world, but the true meaning arose in the field of physics during the nineteenth century. It’s a kind of measure of the equilibrium and evolution of thermodynamics systems. Two main views were developed but both approaches allowed a deeper insight into the nature and behaviour of microscopically unpredictable processes.

The opinions about the subject are very diverse but for most writers, even specialists in Physics, the emphasis is on the second law of thermodynamics that simply states that energy tends to disperse, if it is not hindered from doing so. Some others claim that it says nothing about “orderliness”, and nothing about availability of matter .

There is another area where Entropy takes place, Computers Law . Directly connected with consumers and the market of the product or even the producers, you can also think about it inside software: like when you produce an image and how that image circulates inside the system, how much energy you spend with it and, more import, what part of this image you lose in travelling!?.
These are tree still images from a video “Digital Kaamos, Aurora Boreal”, that was made as the result of the capture from the videotape camera to software in the computer. During the reading of the tape the software was unable to read all the information so he did create an error without matrix.

To contextualize this matter I found a page in the MIT site about their courses (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science) that provides a very interesting questions and answers about the importance of understanding the meaning of entropy for a world of computers and new technologies in which we live today. I selected a few of them;

“What is this course all about? 

Information and entropy. Information is a measure of the amount of knowledge; it is not that knowledge itself. Thus information is like energy, in the sense that knowing the amount of energy does not tell you anything about its nature, location, form, etc. The same is true with information. Entropy is a one kind of information. It is the information you do not have about a situation. 

Is entropy useful outside of thermodynamics? 

All physical systems obey the laws of thermodynamics. The challenge is to express these laws in simple but general forms so that their significance in, for example, a biological system gives insight. Besides, laws similar to the Second Law of Thermodynamics are found in abstract systems governed more by mathematics than physics — two examples discussed in the course are computers and communications systems. In these contexts the “information” part of “Information and Entropy” is important.

During the 20th century Artists also did talk a lot in their work of Entropy. In the 50s they seamed to celebrate what Dan Flavin calls “inactive history” or what the physicist calls “entropy” or “energy-drain.” They bring to mind the Ice Age rather than the Golden Age, and would most likely confirm Vladimir Nabokov’s observation that, “The future is but the obsolete in reverse.” In a rather round-about way, many of the artists have provided a visible analog for the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which extrapolates the range of entropy by telling us energy, is more easily lost than obtained, and that in the ultimate future the whole universe will burn out and be transformed into an all-encompassing sameness. Most of them create a new realthinship with monument, and tend to increase the production of sequences immortal hybrid objects. Or built their monuments to or against entropy.
Some of the ironies lies in Pop art could reflect this theme to. The consumer of the new and the infinite desire that humanity has of processing and reproducing objects brings us the chaos and disorder of loosing more energy than produce.
As a reaction of the “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” like Walter Benjamin name it, starts the concerns about the ecologies world and all the energy transform in product we through away.

So entropy was been used to a true reflection by many artists in the 70s, with the appearance of Land Arts and all questions about a work of Art made by natural materials be exposed to Time and extending to a natural environment. This brings to object of Art his own death.
Artists such as Richard Long, Robert Smithson, Hamish Fulton etc, that brings to the work of Art more than a White Cube presentation way. They selted free the object from the grids of space, instead, they offer freedom of scale. But this freedom brings death of the body in the same time.


For start understanding better the definition of Entropy is my major objective. I must collect as much information I can get in books, interviews and researches from those who are specialists in the areas of physics, philosophy or social sciences. I would like to extend the concept to non-truth information or teorical scientific books, like for instance; the work of so many artists or as an example, to include in my research the “Invisible Cities” of Italo Calvino.
It will be important to go to Greenwich and research all about the histories of that place. Greenwich could be a place that brings me some outcomes. Located at 0 degrees of longitude and being a Universal reference of Time it is definitely a good place to start a visual research and obtain a good archive of moving images. The presentation of these research themes should be done through the media of Video or installation.
To get the final work my methodologies normally focus on a fixed camera recording a moving image from a selected place, environment or machine. This camera just stay still, like a viewer contemplating and action that runs at distance from its own body. All the plan process is made before recording, the space or creating the scenario to film, but when the camera is on, it’s just a technical open eye recording the action. Even I stay still, just watching time and action finish.

Risk assessment

The risk assessment of all this work shouldn’t be a problem but I’ll be careful always ask for permission. In general if the image is taken from the outside environment, should be free because I don’t pretend to involve people, so it doesn’t offer normally any risks. With the inside projects, I just used to do a proposal and ask the authorities to let me in and record. I’m allays conscious about internal rules, securities and careful enough to ask for the assistance of a specialized person from the company to be with me. Normally those persons are very helpful for me because they offer me a technical contextualization or information about what I’m seeing

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