Statement

According to legend, the famous engineer Theodore von Kármán (1881–1963), when invited to give a lecture on turbulence, spent forty minutes in complete silence. Symbolising the helplessness of a scientist in the face of this complex physical phenomenon of self-organising matter, this performance gesture could be a metaphor for the present time. In today’s perturba- tions, panic and uncertainty, one can assume only one thing – the world will never be the same. It seems as if the famous quote “It is easier to imagine an end to the world than an end to capitalism” is no longer relevant. Such an end seems closer than ever, whilst existing social structures may undergo major transformations.

Recent events in the world – from the COVID-19 pandemic to the beginning of the economic recession – have led to a final disappointment in the promises of globalisation and multiculturalism. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of bi-polar politics promised us a borderless world, but instead, for the past few years, we have been witnessing significant disruption amongst international solidarity: the economic crisis in 2008, migration crisis and international sanctions. Unfortunately the 2020 pandemic has reinforced these tendencies and led to the rise of xenophobia, panic and suspicion. In such a situation, it is logical to suppose that, like the “War on terror” after 9/11, these events will result in new isolation measures: border closures, restrictions, biometric surveillance and enhanced control over the everyday life of all people on Earth.

Dark Turbulent Storm Ominous Clouds / Ivanstar @Gettyimages

In today’s perturbations, panic and uncertainty, one can assume only one thing – the world will never be the same. It seems as if the famous quote “It is easier to imagine an end to the world than an end to capitalism” is no longer relevant. Such an end seems closer than ever, whilst existing social structures may undergo major transformations.

However, in these trying times, people all over the world have resorted to previously unseen forms of transnational solidarity, discovered new channels for communication and launched various creative initiatives.  Social media, often considered just a way to waste time,  has become an efficient medium for mutual support and sharing information transcending all political, ethnic and cultural borders. Today humankind faces a stark choice between the interests of the global community and those of private corporations; between long-term deve- lopment projects and short-term profit-oriented speculations; between freedom of movement and total surveillance; between mindless hedonism and conscious consumption; between individualism and social approach and cooperation.

Blurred motion / Jaromir Chalabala — @Shutterstock

Today humankind faces a stark choice between the interests of the global community and those of private corpo- rations; between long-term development projects and short-term profit-oriented speculations; between freedom of move- ment and total surveillance; between mindless hedonism and conscious consumption; between individualism and social approach and cooperation.

Since von Kármán’s research, wake turbulence has remained a mystery and served as a vocal metaphor for social processes. Occurring in the flow of liquids and gases, plasma and all other continuous mediums, it is the evidence of atmospheric instability and unpredictability. Cancellation of flights has thwarted people’s plans and separated them from each other while the aerial spread of the virus has made personal communication unsafe. Moreover, market volatility deprived many people of faith in the future. However, turbulence in physics is a transition from chaos to order, a form of self-organisation of matter which resembles that of the human society.

In times of crisis, there is always hope for a new beginning and creation of a better world. We can cite various examples from history when humanity went through even darker times which took it to the next level of evolutionary development. Culture and art have been and remain the ultimate tools for critical analysis and reflection in our society. Now it is time not only for contemplation but also for affirmative action for a better future.

Motocross race — dust and pieces / Tom Karola @Shutterstock

Culture and art have been and remain the ultimate tools for critical analysis and reflection in our society. Now it is time not only for contemplation but also for affirmative action for a better future. 

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