Anarchy in the Organism

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Anarchy in the Organism is an in-depth reader exploring a variety of discourses derived from responses to Simeon Nelson's affecting art installation of the same name. As the artist-in-residence at the UCLH integrated Macmillan Cancer Centre, Nelson engaged with ideas of complexity theory, cybernetics and the philosophy of science, and the biology of the human body to create a work featuring four simultaneous algorithmic videos -- a series of animated Voronoi cell tree-forms with tumors growing amidst the organisms causing systemic collapse--and eight speaker 'whispering windows' audio diffusion. The public installation focussed on imagining cancer as a complex adaptive system arising within the body, investigating what properties of growth and development the disease shares with social, cultural and natural arenas. The book features a selection of essays, each detailing the author's differing experiences and subsequent applications of their reaction to this interdisciplinary art project. In addition, the book includes two further expositional texts in the form of notes on the musical accompaniment to the installation by the composer Rob Goodman, and notes on the scientist and artist responsible for the piece's video coding, Nick Rothwell. Anarchy in the Organism presents integrative ways of looking at disparate phenomena to confront the possible meanings of cancer, from scientific, social, cultural, ethical and existential perspectives.