Maximilian Schich

Summarizing Cultural Dynamics – A Guided Tour

Quantitative approaches are increasingly used to map and make sense of cultural dynamics. In this talk we take stock of ‘some kinds of durations’ which increasingly emerge as foundational and relevant for cultural scholarship, quantitative and qualitative alike. We will look at growth throughout history, where ‘more or less exponential’ is usually a good expectation. We will take a glimpse at the temporal instability of ranking dynamics and canonicity. We will highlight the organized complexity in the cultural migration of human individuals, shortcut from birth to death. We will see large but rare memetic cascades of explicit reuse, reference, and citation, eventually pointing to a larger stratigraphy of memes, which is mostly non-explicit in terms of dependence, yet can be researched via classifications of similarity. Qualitatively we will outline a conceptual model of prototypical generating mechanisms of sample and remix, to exemplify how we can go beyond similarity or correlation, while larger amounts of explicit dependence or causation still remain elusive. Finally we will look at very recent results tracing systematic trends of aesthetic complexity in historical and contemporary art.

Maximilian Schich is a multidisciplinary scientist who collaborates towards a systematic understanding of art and culture, using critical and creative aesthetics, qualitative inquiry, quantitative measurement, and computation.