Meaning Making and the Art of Subjective Objects

Ron Paul Baum
MA Whole Systems Design 2013

Center for Creative Change

Antioch University Seattle

November 30, 2018

the reader transcends the words
whenever the meaning without the words
transcends the reader

The three category process as defined by CS Peirce is cyclical and generative. When commonly formatted with other processes, a dynamic, interpretive, resilient, socially engaging environment emerges.
The commonly shared format presented is minimalist, cyclical and in two parts, triadic for subjective and quadratic for objective points of view. Both views share the same set of images. The examples define, demonstrate and clarify the format. Although the nested examples may be compelling, the focus of this paper is the format, currently known artistically as
radiant little tree.
Examples of processes are nonorganic, organic and humanistic cycles including mathematical, geometrical, physical, spiritual, etc. Opportunities for meaning making arise between diverse elements in corresponding phases of often quite disparate processes. Interpretations generate new examples and suggest  changes to existing examples in this artful collection. The process is helpful in creating a state of praxis. A process necessary for understanding diverse worldviews, obscure scientific concepts, humanistic stories and generating the new interpretations necessary for facilitating resilience in complex environments. Using variations of this format, a series of subjective object art projects are described which communicate, share knowledge and build community.
The radiant little tree grew from an aesthetic experience in 1995 during the interpretation of images as signs created unintentionally as part of a typical minimalist art project.(Baum 2018) An emotional interaction called then a time of falling into the abyss of minimalism, a delusional period and later deemed a noetic experience. The project continues and includes an MA degree in Whole Systems Design, a series of artistic subjective objects and a few bits of writing. Only in 2017 after becoming partially aware of CS Peirce and Pragmaticism, did Semiotics become an important source for understanding the meaning of this humble, often paradoxical, potentially powerful formatting structure. Semiotic processes and the polymath ideas of CS Peirce, although new additions to this 23 year old art project, were so seemlessly integrated and have become so integral, that the interactions most surely confirm a common sublime minimalistic origin within the art and math and science.      
“Firstness, Secondness, and Thirdness, are to be preferred as being entirely new words without any false associations whatever. How the conceptions are named makes, however, little difference. I will endeavor to convey to you some idea of the conceptions themselves. It is to be remembered that they are excessively general ideas, so very uncommonly general that it is far from easy to get any but a vague apprehension of their meaning”
(Peirce: 1898: CP 4.3)
Many words are needed to focus in on a process as an academic writer like CS Peirce who is probably better known and appreciated for focusing out by using minimalist sets of just three words each. By comparison a new arrangement of the old, poetic and intentionally “vague” words radiant little tree may have many associations with the reader. Take them with you. The art is in the format as well as the distracting details of the associated process examples. Intention needs Interaction. People join in this co-creative process of discovery arguing joyfully in this poetic academic debate. The project has already grown to contain wonderful sets of shared personal tales as well as privately held potentially powerful discrete mathematics not yet safely made public. All noisily nested in a little tree of Percian logic. Appropriately, we will begin with triadics.
“It is important to understand what I mean by semiosis. All dynamical action, or action of brute force, physical or psychical, either takes place between two subjects (whether they react equally upon each other, or one is agent and the other patient, entirely or partially) or at any rate is a resultant of such actions between pairs. But by “semiosis” I mean, on the contrary, an action, or influence, which is, or involves, a coöperation of three subjects, such as a sign, its object, and its interpretant, this tri-relative influence not being in any way resolvable into actions between pairs.” (Peirce: 1907: 411)
CS Peirce was a philosopher, scientist, mathematician and logician. The types monadic, dyadic, triadic, quadratic…n-adic , in mathematics, the sciences and logic are used to describe sets of processes which have common relationships of structure. CS Peirce has been credited with contributing to the thought that the triadic structure, (obscure as it is) is most inclusive and descriptive of natural and logical processes including all other n-adic sets. Others have their place, but none are as generative as the triadic.
After examining many triadic processes, it is interesting to observe that there is often, indeed, an implied fourthness which indicates the change of point of view of the anthropo-centric observer from subjectively inside a process to objectively outside of the same process. Paradoxically, an anthropo-eccentric place of awareness only available (as far as we know!) to the minds of human beings. Please note that for the remainder of this paper, the intended meaning of objective and subjective refer to point of view. For example, prior to and following the subjective phases of Intention  Interaction and Inspiration is the objectively described phase of Intuition, that truly unknown place of Inspiration and source of all Intention. (Baum 2013: 4) True paradox, is it not, that Intuition, the anthropo-center of emotional subjectivity is so easily categorized objectively and with eccentricity? An objective describer in this project may be a title, a word which describes a process, a name, a diagram, a format, a list of categories, etc. always external to rather than internal of the three category process it represents. Retroduction has been so defined objectively as an example of a process of emergence from that watery noetic world which generates all ideas :
“1  bringing a new idea (or hypothesis) up from the region where 'all things swim'
in the continuum by means of abduction (beginning with an aesthetic inference, which by following the 'form' of abduction in Peirce’s critic, becomes a logical inference);
 2  using deduction to explicate and demonstrate aspects of that idea,
 3  using induction to evaluate and secure that idea (however temporarily).
Then, the reasoner returns to abduction and repeats that cycle as necessary. In this sense,
 the term 'retroduction' would be reserved as a definition for the entire abductive–deductive–inductive cycle of Peirce’s methodeutic, saving the term 'abduction' to mean a distinct type
of inference that is separate and distinct from either deduction or induction.”    (Chiasson 2001: 15)
This quote emerged from a serendipitous, synchronic personal interaction with Phyllis Chiasson during the writing of this paper. A half dozen encounters at a small coffee shop, a series of retroductive events, generating the mention of semiotics, her projects and this project which needed this reference. The quote reads as the instruction manual for the creation of this series of examples. CS Peirce's ideas are alive, emerging and generative. Retroduction describes abduction, deduction and induction as an evolving process. The objective description of the iteration of the processes within. Fitting the iterative radiant little tree perfectly.
The long distracting story of the creation of the art and developments during the intervening years is important and also not necessary to describe the current integration with semiotics.
Figures 0-00, 1, and 2 were the first three drawings in the art project originally named ruling little tree.   They intentionally contain no text allowing openness for interpretation. All examples are hypothetical, metaphorical, interpretations, arrangements and approximations of well known processes. The drawings in Figures 1 and 2 representing animal and vegetable were additions made to Figure 0-00, which represent mineral in this minimal sample set. Many have found these primitive images quite engaging and have contributed modified versions to this project, usually in the form of stories and tales.

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