The Flowchart, artist's text, 2019.
The flowchart is the meta-medium for an aesthetics of social complexity. The diagrammatic drawing becomes the essential visual form for seeing and engaging with the flow of information and operations in today’s interconnected world.

In art, the flowchart is a dynamic image that can convey practice and theory for functions and meanings of concepts and actions. The language of the flowchart serves the artist to convey processes and connections of ideas and interventions within increasingly entangled networks of interrelated social structures. It gives form to the circulations, processes, and arrangements of social, technical, and intellectual flows involving works of art.

The picture of the flowchart sidesteps the visual conventions of figuration and abstraction; the flowchart is operational, informational, and conceptual. The satisfying visual aesthetic of the flowchart derives from the artist’s ideas propelled in the geometric sketching of the flows of concepts, means, functions, and commands that the artist creates, elucidates, and researches. The flowchart is a conceptual image as well as an image itself with its own form. Visually, the flowchart circumnavigates the pictorial image, becoming the relevant iconographic imagery of the information age. As a genre of visual language, the flowchart enters into the rubric of artistic strategies and mediums, furthering the development of art-making.

Art as creation of input-output exchange; interconnected nodes, channeling and switching conditions, functions, rules, and interactions are outlined to reach a determined outcome. The flowchart is not a map, it does not illustrate a set space or field. Rather, it’s the representation of the flow being processed, computed, and directed in the making of the preposition, action, and method meant to produce specific goals. The flowchart is power of creation, knowledge, and order of flows and systems that the artist can utilize. Drawing flowcharts is the manifestation of the artist’s will to depict, invent, and remodel reality.

In a society of flows, the flowchart asserts itself as the visual device to organize, predict, and govern the world. Beyond technology, flowcharts model geopolitics and geoengineering, warfare and financial markets, jurisdictional arbitrage and global trade. The schematic, technical, and functional character of the flowchart is the quintessential portrayal of the bare, inexorable, and operative technocratic order encircling globalization.

Flows of money in networks of financial trading. Flows of goods in global logistics and manufacturing. Flows of intellectual property with trademarks and patents. Flows of people in transportation systems and across borders. Flows of news and content in interconnected media. Flows of cultures and semiotic signs. Flows of environments with urbanization and climate management. Flows of laws in arbitraged jurisdictions and decentralized platforms. Flows of political opinions and lobbying. Flows of citizen profiling in data brokerage. All these flows are interconnected in networks organized through flowcharts functioning as instruments of power.

Flowcharts become the language of the modern global information order. Either with an algorithm, economic model, political organogram, or semiotic study, the flowchart is the visual means for drawing the forms of complex flows within processes and systems of social reality. Charting flows becomes a necessary artistic practice to critically engage with society, making the flowchart a pivotal medium for contemporary art.

Text by Paolo Cirio, May 2019.

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