Order and chaos

There is a balance somewhere between order and chaos where things become the most aesthetically pleasing.

Very few people are drawn into a shape or pattern that is completely ordered. We tend to find these patterns dull, boring, overly simplistic. At the other extreme, most people also tend to find completely random and chaotic patterns to be boring and devoid of meaning.

But somewhere in the middle, it all starts to happen for us. Whether it be smoke, water, fire, clouds or marble, many natural phenomena are poised in balance between order and chaos, and these are the phenomena to which we are most strongly drawn.

I wonder whether there could be a way to measure this balance, to look at any given object and assign it a rating, describing how perfectly and pleasingly balanced that object is between order and chaos.

4 thoughts on “Order and chaos”

  1. Are you sure there is just one balance point that everyone would agree is most pleasing? I’m thinking of gardens, for example. Some people prefer order, with neat lines of plants and symmetry, while other prefer fields of wildflowers.

  2. This sounds a little like the “Edge of Chaos” and the characterization of cellular automata. I think J├╝rgen Schmidhuber has also looked at this. Have you found a good answer yet, or are you just starting to look?

  3. In response to Sharon, it could be argued that the neat garden and the field of wildflowers are not that far from each other along this dimension, although we tend to notice their respective differences from each other.

    In response to Doug, in a way this has been an underlying theme of my research, going all the way back to my approach to procedural texture synthesis.

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