Orai and the Transdisciplinary Wunderkammer


Session Title:

  • Orai, Comings and Goings

Presentation Title:

  • Orai and the Transdisciplinary Wunderkammer



  • Recent speculation in cosmology and the science of consciousness studies has been obliged to reconsider the concept of reality as an “absolute given” from which all laws can be verified. In string theory in particular, the dispute now hinges on the existence of ten or eleven dimensions in rippling membranes that discharge energy at the point of contact. In science of consciousness studies similar models have appeared in order to explain what one authority has called “the necessary moment of enchantment between planes of consciousness that produce awareness”. Between the macro and the micro the daily experience of ordinary human beings has long needed the explanation of multiple realities in order to stabilise conflicting desires and constraints – the multiplicity of times and spaces that converge in a single individual have long been sifted between those that have a rational and scientific explanation (e.g. money, work, knowledge) and those that have an irrational basis (e.g. love, pleasure, and art). One convenient division of labour has been to assign the rational to the real and the irrational to the imagined. The inevitable realisation in scientific circles that the reality of the imagined has as an equivalent epistemological significance raises fascinating questions as it invites a sceptical reconsideration of the essential basis of knowledge.

    While the radical shift in scientific thought provides the moment of profound satisfaction for those artists, designers and scientists who have long argued for a transdisciplinary world view, it also provides a moment of the greatest challenge as we begin to consider how knowledge might be extended, codified and distributed in a multiverse, and begin to reflect on the relationships between a text and a world to be understood when any given world is only defined by the temporary consensus dependent on an arbitrary episteme.

    This short paper approaches the theme of Orai by first developing the claim that we exist in a multiverse of multiple realities by exploring some major turns in cosmology, and consciousness studies and then drawing on my own published work which deals with the quotidian multiverse. It then asks the question of how we might manage the new concept of “comings and goings, communication and contact as well as streets and traffic” at a time when the reduced world view that has provided the foundation of dominant opinion in the last half-millennium is unsustainable. In conclusion it proposes that visual analogy, in the sense that Barbara Maria Stafford and others have argued the term, points to both the new transdiscplinary strategies for research and education as it also places new responsibilities on the custodians of analogy during the half-millennium of the reign of reason – those for whom finding sameness in difference has formed an essential part of their methodology – namely artists.

Supporting Document(s):