Why ISIS? International Society for the Interdisciplinary Study of Symmetry

International Society for the Interdisciplinary Study of Symmetry (ISIS-Symmetry / ISIS-S / ISIS)

Nomen est omen… The simple name “Symmetry Society” is also used, but the purpose of the long official name was very simple: the abbreviated form should also make some sense. We ended up with ISIS, since Isis can be associated not only with ancient learning (via a goddess), but also with various fields of art and science. The main purpose is to have more bridges (“symmetries”) between different fields of art and science, more cooperation among artists and scholar in an overspecialized world. Since the expressions “symmetria” is used in both art and science since ancient time, it could help us to have a common language (“symmetric language”).

We made a tradition to visit various regions in the framework of our triennial congresses and exhibitions: we started in Europe (Budapest, 1989), went to the Far East (Hiroshima, 1993), then to North America (Washington, D.C., 1995), which was followed by a trip to the Middle East (Haifa, 1998), then to the South hemisphere, specifically to Australia (Sydney, 2001), again to Europe (Tihany, 2004), then back to the South (Buenos Aires, 2007), and now we are heading to Central Europe:

Artists’ City Gmuend, August 23-28, 2010.
Until now, we had “congress-exhibitions”, but now our host Werner Schulze, a distinguished composer and professor of music transforms it into a “festival-congress”.

ISIS-Symmetry has a special interest in art-science connections or, in a broader sense:

art and the humanities – science and technology

The specialization in the last centuries led to various disciplines, while most problems are complex and require interdisciplinary approaches. At the opening of our first congress (1989), I suggested speaking about “split culture”, using a metaphor from brain research, instead of the widely used term “two cultures” (C. P. Snow). According to this interpretation, we have just one culture, but it has two “hemispheres” that should cooperate via some bridges (corpus callosum). My terminology was also introduced and discussed by T. Avital’s monograph (Art versus Nonart, Cambridge University Press, 2003, pp. 34-35; Chinese translation, Beijing, 2009, p. 53; Spanish translation, forthcoming). I am glad that my metaphor reached so many parts of the world by Avital’s help.
In an earlier lecture, I pointed out that art-science connections may appear at various levels:

(1) Strengthening interdisciplinary thinking in general.

(2) Helping education by presenting new connections (e.g., “beautifying” science education and giving new “outlooks” in art education).

(3) Presenting exact methods for artists and new fields of application for scientists.

(4) Giving new inspirations to artists and scientists by a broader scope.

(5) In some special cases, helping the solution of concrete problems (see, e.g., the reconstruction of Bach’s Kunst der Fuge by W. Graeser; the recognition of a mistake in the crystallographic tables by analyzing M. C. Escher’s periodic drawings).

Beyond “symmetry” (commensurability, proportion, harmony, bilateral symmetry, crystallographic symmetries, invariance, orderliness, etc.) and “asymmetry” (the opposite of symmetry), there is a third one between:


In fact, in nature we have just dissymmetry, a small violation of perfect symmetry, and it is usually more beautiful.

Let us have (dis)symmetry!

See you, hopefully, in Gmuend!

Special thanks to

Ted Goranson (U.S.), who made our society more “symmetric” with this new site

Patricia Muñoz (Argentina), who made Möbiusean logo for us (one may believe that a band has always two sides, but the Möbius strip has just one, similar to my view that we have just one culture of art and science).

Werner Schulze (Austria), who bridges art and science in each moment during our work towards the next festival-congress.

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