Monday, January 29, 2007

Epigenetic Landscapes

During our 1-24-07 session we discussed ideas related to Conrad Waddington's, "Epigenetic Landscapes" (pictured above). It is an important concept for us to explore. If you would like to read more please see Sanford Kwinter's "Landscapes of Change" essay in Assemblage 19, 1993. Quoting Kwinter: "Epigenetic landscape seen from below: The complex relief features of the epigenetic surface are themselves largely the expression of a prodigiously complex network of interactions underlying it. The guy-ropes are tethered not only to random points on the overhead surface, but to points on the other guy-ropes as well, and to pegs in the lower surface that themselves represent only semi-stabilized forms, thus multiplying exponentially the non-linearities flowing through the system. Not to diminish in importance either is the tension surface above as a distinct domain contributing its own forces to the field. No change in any single parameter can fail to be relayed throughout the system and to affect, in turn, conditions all across the event surface." (image credit: Conrad H. Waddington, Epigenetic Landscape, in Strategy of the Genes, 1957)