Publication 1011

Bexte P. (2005) Heinz von foerster in the art department: A collide-oscope in four parts. Kybernetes 34(3/4): 485–489. Fulltext at
Purpose: To provide illumination of how systems tend to produce an output nobody expected. It is in these moments that observers may learn something about their own expectations. Design/methodology/approach – The paper discusses two cases in the history of art: faked Vermeer paintings and a test Heinz von Foerster did in the art department at the University of Illinois. Findings: McLuhan’s notion of the “collide-oscope” is applied to the way Heinz von Foerster (ab)uses images in his own texts; furthermore it is applied to the way the BCL was organized. The formal structure of the “collide-oscope” offers a model of perception. Originality/value – Provides a discussion of a fundamental message of cybernetics – that we cannot escape collisions and disturbances. They are its essence. Relevance: This paper relates to the second-order cybernetics of Heinz von Foerster.


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