Knowing with New Media
Collision of incompatible codes – bisociation
The Ripples model tailors Koestler’s (1989) notion of collisions
of incompatible matrices to a collision of incompatible codes.
This is because matrices are variable and codes are fixed 'rules
of the game'. Collisions of incompatibilities are more clearly pronounced in the clashes of fixed norms rather than in those
It is the irregularities of the matrices that trigger the collision
of fixed codes.
Referring to this approach to creativity, Koestler (p. 656) coined
the term bisociation – an associative connection between things (bi- refers to two but it could be more than that). In the Ripples, bisociation points to the connections between unrelated domains
of human knowledge and activities. It denotes bridging together symbols, concepts or rules from the fields; combinations of which are commonly regarded as inappropriate, accidental, or so-to-speak, collisional. For example, combining a rotating potter’s wheel with
a motionless platform led to the creation of a carriage; connecting tree bark with writing gave rise to the invention of paper.
Famous examples of bisociative insights include: Isaac Newton’s theory of gravity, in which he understood gravity's principles through the fall of an apple; James C. Maxwell’s theory of electromagnetic waves, where he bridged domains of optics and electromagnetism that were considered unrelated; and Einstein’s theory of relativity understood by linking time with space, and energy with matter.
In other words, establishing patterns of cross-connections or,
as Koestler referred to them as mental cross-fertilisations between components of multiple disparate domains, are at the core
of creative enterprise.
Another concept adopted by Ripples, is Jacob Bronowski's (1964) notion of the continuous search of hidden likeness in things that appear unlike to discover new unity and order ‘in the wild variety
of nature’ and ‘our experience’ (loc. 222). One more principle that comes from Nicholas Negroponte’s famous quote about creativity resulting from unlikely juxtapositions is adopted by Ripples for ideational process.
To summarise, the production of useful novelty can be achieved by an associative connection between things, that is bisociation, which
is brought about by cross-fertilisations, unexpected likeness
and unusual juxtapositions.
For more on bisociation, watch an excellent YouTube video by Dr Ken Bloemer:
Ripples of the Ripplework
Bisociation Unusual Juxtaposition
Bisociation Unexpected likeness
'Human beings are exceptionally adept at integrating two extraordinarily different inputs to create new emergent structures, which result in new tools, new technologies,
and new ways of thinking'.
Gilles Fauconnier & Mark Turner, 2002
& Mark Turner
In the above image we can see an example of unusual juxtaposition.
This unusual juxtaposition provoked some bisociation. For example, envisioning the vase as a top of a an architectural tower.
In the image on the right,
the elements from the image above are reassembled into
a cross-fertilised composition.
The vase metamorphosed into an architectural element as the top of a tower. The windows from the image above are incorporated into the vase's body. The texture of the bird's plumage is 'crossbred' into the vase' neck; the protea flower turned into a dome. The bird's position shifted from that of an outsider to a dweller of
the imaginary tower.
The architectural element from the first image completes the composition
in the second image.
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