Interdisciplinary collaboration as a catalyst for innovation


Scientific breakthroughs are based on facts, precisely measured and analysed. Major philosophical theories are born from concepts and thought experiments. I suspect art lies somewhere in between. This essay is an exploration into:

  • The common factors that link art, science and philosophy
  • Whether these commonalities can inspire creativity and promote innovation

Cyclic movement is congruent to science, philosophy and art.

I bake bread weekly and observed that the rising and falling of the sourdough starter echoed my creative thought process; a constant, respiratory movement that was eternal as long as it was fed with new ideas. This repetitive cycling happens in philosophy too. In The Divine Comedy, Dante travels down through Hell and upwards to Heaven passing through Purgatory on the way. This spiralling, rising and falling storyline is analogous to both the baking of bread and my personal design process. This cyclic movement was the starting point for investigation into the topic.


Philosophy, art and science intersect in interdiscipline

Figure 1 At the intersection of philosophy, art and science lies innovation and movement


Introduction. 1

What are science, philosophy and art?. 3

Thought processes and problem solving. 5

Philosophy. 7

Dante’s Divine Comedy. 7

The science of sourdough. 10

Imitation v innovation. 14

Experimenting with the intersections as inspiration. 16

Conclusion: creativity requires movement 18

Acknowledgements. 18

Bibliography. 18

The Experiment: Dante’s Inferno in sourdough. 23


The experiment

To test the hypothesis that the commonalities between science, philosophy and art can inspire creativity and innovation I performed a series of experiments timed to coincide with Dante’s trip to hell over Easter 1300 CE.

Using literal and symbolic interpretations of Dante’s travels I manipulated and altered raw sourdough. These manipulations were applied to clay forms inspired by microscopic images taken of the same dough. Finally I analysed my creative explorations and processes to ascertain the level of innovation achieved. Did working with scientific and philosophical principals aid the creative process?

What are science, philosophy and art?

Science follows “a systematic methodology based on evidence.” (Science Council, 2009)

The Greek word φιλοσοφία means “the love of wisdom” and philosophy is the “study of knowledge”, or “thinking about thinking” (The Basics of Philosophy, 2008)

There is some controversy over the definition of “Art”, The Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy concludes that: “It is not at all clear that these words – ‘What is art?’ – express anything like a single question.” (Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, 2018)

A more helpful description is “The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.” (Oxford English Living Dictionaries, 2019). I am reading the word “Beauty” in a Platonic sense to avoid value judgement.

What do science, philosophy and art have in common?

Science, philosophy and art are frameworks that have been described as having dominant emphasis of variables, variations and varieties, (Deleuze and Guttari 1994 p. 202) all qualities with directional properties, therefore having movement.

According to Deleuze and Guttari the concepts that science, philosophy and art lean towards are in a state of “survol”, surveying their relations with their components. This echoes the definitions above, with science quantifying through experiments, philosophy quantifying via thought and art expressing via material manipulation. (Deleuze and Guttari 1994 p. 23)

Plato talks (through Socrates) about Beauty, The Good and Truth as Forms (Republic 508e2–3); timeless, unchanging and transcendent in time and space. According to Plato, our reality is merely shadows cast by the Forms (Republic 514a–520a). These Transcendentals surpass all judgement, so the concept of Beauty in these terms is not one of aesthetic judgement.  They are all properties of being and relate to our existence. There is no being or existence without some form of creation.

Blending the Ancient Greek Plato’s realm of the Forms and the 20th century Deleuze and Guattari’s categories makes 3 clear distinctive areas of dominance:

  • Science is represented by the Form of Truth with the dominant emphasis on variables and it quantifies concepts through experiments.
  • Philosophy is represented by the Form of The Good with the dominant emphasis on variations and it qualifies concepts through thought.
  • Art is represented by the Form of Beauty with the dominant emphasis on variety. Art expresses concepts through matter.

Philosophy, art and science intersect in interdiscipline

Figure 2. Philosophy, Science and Art defined as individual sets and intersected by creation, innovation and movement.

Thought processes and problem solving

Divergent, convergent and lateral thinking

I work in my head before anything gets put onto paper. Design problems become huge amorphous concepts that float around in the ether of my mind, eventually sorting themselves into junk or viable ideas and solutions. Guilford described this as Divergent Thinking in the late 1950’s. (Guilford 1959 quote in abstract). But it is still a contemporary theory with Leonard Mlodinow writing about Elastic thinking in 2018:

“We have to rely as much on our imagination as on logic, and have the ability to generate and integrate a wide variety of ideas, to welcome experiment, and be tolerant of failure … We evolved the latter to help us succeed when circumstances change—which is why it is increasingly important to hone those skills today. ” (Cook 2018 quoting Mlodinow)

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi uses the active noun “Flow” to describe the lost in the moment, enjoyment of creativity. To “enhance personal creativity”, he suggests “Look at problems from as many different viewpoints as possible.”(Csikszentmihalyi 1996 p.365). In Creativity, Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention he goes on to suggest ways to generate ideas by using divergent thinking. He replaces three dimensions that are “generally held up to be important to creativity” (fluency, flexibility and originality) with a broader spectrum approach, encouraging the reader to produce a large number of varied ideas and to aim for unlikely solutions.

“To think in a divergent mode requires more attention than thinking in the usual convergent style. As usual it takes more energy to be creative than to be a routine thinker.” (Csikszentmihalyi 1996 p.370)

Both Divergent and Elastic thinking describe cycles of movement. Divergent thinking has an outward direction towards free thought and random associations. It’s counterpart Convergent thinking directs inwards, towards logic and facts.

To fit in with my theory of overlapping properties, divergent thinking connects philosophy and art and convergent thinking connecting science and philosophy. Science and art have to be connected by either lack of thought, or a dual purpose thought process that combines divergent and convergent processes.

Thinking about nothing

Thinking about nothing is impossible. Buddhist monks meditate in stillness, acknowledging their moving thoughts. Western Monk Karma Yeshe Rabgye said:

“I would say two things about this. Firstly, I do not believe it is possible to totally stop your thoughts, and secondly, it certainly isn’t what meditation is about. In fact, it is actually a hindrance to your meditation practice.” (Rabgye 2014)

Discounting lack of thought as a viable intersection, the dual purpose thought process of Lateral thinking spans the gap.

Lateral thinking

Lateral thinking draws upon both convergent and divergent thinking. Edward de Bono describes lateral thinking as directional, which suggests that the intersection between science and art is not static.

“With lateral thinking we move “sideways” to try different perceptions, different concepts, different points of entry”  (de Bono 1996 p.53)

“Like a steering wheel, (it) allows us to change direction. The very word “lateral” means “sideways”, so lateral thinking is about moving “sideways” out of existing patterns to generate new perspectives. (Pstrokonski 2018)

Philosophy, art and science intersect in interdiscipline

Figure 3. Lateral thinking implies movement between convergent and divergent thinking.


As a general principle I discovered that the link between philosophy and science had a downward, inward direction. The link between science and art is more static but sometimes provides a bridge between and sometimes combines the two polar opposites. The intersections between art and philosophy generally strive upwards and outwards.

Philosophy, art and science intersect in interdiscipline

Figure 4. Dante’s Divine Comedy and Object Oriented Ontology have clear directions that fit the Venn diagram.

Dante’s Divine Comedy

Dante has 3 sections to the Divine Comedy, Inferno: the depths of hell that are inside the planet earth. Purgatory, placed on the surface of the earth and Paradise, starting from the top of Purgatory to an area beyond Plato’s Good that even Dante cannot describe in words.  There are clear directional movements in all 3 of the sections which implies that Purgatory, where souls go to be judged and sentenced is not a static element.

hell moves inwards in Dante's Divine Comedy heaven transcends out

Figure 5. A map of Dante’s Divine Comedy showing hell moving inwards, purgatory and heaven outwards.
(St Columbas Church 2018)

Object Oriented Ontology (OOO)

Graham Harman describes a “flat ontology” (Harman, 2018. p. 54)  where everything (thoughts, people, places, ideas) is an object and all objects are equal. This disproves the  Cartesian ‘I think therefore I am’ by reframing it as ‘I don’t think therefore I cannot exist’.

Triple O is all around and objects exist in states of tension

Figure 6. Vermeer’s The Milkmaid (1657–1658) showing a Cartesian viewpoint where the person is central versus an Object Oriented Ontology viewpoint where objects have a reaction and tension to each other.

In Object Oriented Ontology there is a triad of Undermining, Overmining and Duomining. Undermining is reducing DOWN to an object’s constituent elements. Reducing things UPWARDS to their effects on humans is Overmining. Duomining is a combination of both of these but that does not necessarily make it doubly useful.

“Duomining combines, and problematically so, the weaknesses rather than the strengths of both positions” (Harman 2013 p47)

Two years earlier, Harman saw the strength in the middle ground, describing it as a “Third Table”, essentially the real thing in itself that is withheld from us. According to Harman, art gives us a means to access “the real” that philosophy and science do not. (Ford and Martel 2018).

Figure 7. Kosuth’s One and Three Chairs (1965) is an interpretation of Plato’s Forms. Which is the real chair? The image of a chair, the chair you can sit on or the description of the chair. Harman and Plato agree that the real chair is inaccessible though Harman suggests it can be reached through art.

This leads to the question of the Science ∩ Art intersection – do all the elements give us more than usual access to “the real”?

“Everyone wants to destroy that middle zone where real things exist, perhaps because they’re not tangible in the way that tiny elements are, or that effects on humans are. But that’s precisely the point of philosophia. You’re not supposed to have direct access to the real. Otherwise you’d either be a god or a sophist.”       (Harman 2011)

The original 2 tables were defined by Eddington in “The Nature of the Physical World” which discusses the philosophical outcomes of changes in scientific thought.  According to Eddington, the first table is his substantial concept of a table (overmined) and the second more scientific, undermined to its atomic construction.

“I need not tell you that modern physics has by delicate test and remorseless logic assured me that my second scientific table is the only one which is really there wherever “there” may be. On the other hand I need not tell you that modern physics will never succeed in exorcising that first table strange compound of external nature, mental imagery and inherited prejudice which lies visible to my eyes and tangible to my grasp.” (Eddington 1928 p. x)

In this sense duomining is to OOO as lateral thinking is to divergent and convergent thinking: both duomining and lateral thinking combine the polar opposites.

The science of sourdough

Creating sourdough

Sourdough has a higher water content than normal dough. It is not kneaded, it uses time to develop gluten instead. Sourdough relies on the complex and multiple enzymes in the natural yeast to Autolyse (break down the starch and develop gluten). Normal bread requires physical stretching to activate the gluten, which causes the bread to rise when it is cooked.


Shop bought baker’s yeast contains a single-cell microorganism. According to microbiologist Rob Dunn from the Sourdough Project, there can be 193 different microbes in sourdough. (Graber, 2017).

Making a sourdough starter

To catch the wild yeast in a sourdough you mix flour (traditionally rye) with water and over the course of a few days add equal quantities of flour and water, discarding half the mixture when volume becomes too large to deal with. Adding a teaspoon of starter from an established sourdough culture can speed this process up because it impregnates the mixture with a mix of live and wild yeasts from the beginning.

three days of sourdough watch the wild yeast activate forming paste bubbles

Figure 8. Sourdough starter over 3 days. The gluten activates and bubbles start to appear.

Once the sourdough is active you can see a visible rise and fall as the yeast breaks down the starches in the flour, forming sugar which ferments. This process gives off carbon dioxide which creates the bubbles. When the yeast runs out of sugars the sourdough starter sinks.

the yeast rises and deflates over time so you must feed the sourdough

Figure 9. Chart from showing the rise and fall of sourdough starter (levain) over a period of time and after feedings.

Microbiology of sourdough

I’ve been privileged to have the help of the technical team at the Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences at UWE for this research. Using an electron microscope we looked deep into the sourdough, magnifying it up to 60.000 times. The shapes of the microbes, starch and detritus are inspiring and led to the first stage of explorations in clay.

iodine stains the microscopic grains of starch starter or levain

Figure 10. Microscopic image taken by Paul Kendrick of my sourdough starter in iodine.

Scientific processes

The processes involved in the preparation of the starter sample for the electron microscope was very valuable. In common with the production of sourdough, some of the sample was reserved and I’ve compared it step by step with baking. The microscope itself works under pressure and there is a delicate balance of hydration and water vapour. Water droplets increase the number of electrons that can reach the sample so can show more detail. However it is not possible to see through 100% humidity in the chamber. Lowering the pressure in the chamber drives off the water but as the sample loses moisture, fragile structures are destroyed with each scan. It is a delicate balance of condensation and evaporation. To focus on one area requires sacrificing a neighbour as the electron beam destroys while focusing.

burned by the rays of the electron microscope poor sourdough starter

Figure 11. Electron Microscope image of my sourdough showing the damage the electron microscope makes. Taken by Dr David Patton and Sue Hula

dead sourdough starter dried and not at all active magnified a lot

Figure 12. Electron Microscope image of my sourdough after drying. Taken by Dr David Patton and Sue Hula


Sourdough loaf Prep for Electron Microscope
Feed starter and use a small part to start dough Reserve half the sample as backup
20g starter + 100g each of water and flour, leave overnight Kill starter and check for signs of life 72 hours later
Add the rest of the flour and salt Fix starter
Prove 1 Centrifuge and discard liquid
Prove 2 Centrifuge and discard liquid
Final shaping and prove Centrifuge and discard liquid
Bake 20 mins in a very hot oven with lid on crock pot After 72 hours retest to check sample is dead.
Bake 15 mins in a very hot oven with lid off. Wet samples are splutter plated with gold to protect the sample from damage – the gold is conductive which prevents the sample from charging.

Similarities between making sourdough and the technical process for preparing a microscopic sample.

Philosophy, art and science intersect in interdiscipline

Figure 13. Common denominators between art, science and philosophy identified as having clear directions upwards, downwards and outwards.

Imitation v innovation

According to Plato, everything is an imitation of an absolute and perfect Form. The objects that we can see are just copies from the a priori memories of our reborn souls, drawn out of our memories when needed. (Plato, Meno, 85d). The true Forms cast shadows we perceive as reality. Plato’s cave analogy (Republic, VII 514a to 517a) describes us as slaves, chained so we can only see in one direction. Behind us is a very bright fire and beings who carry objects in front of the fire to cast a shadow. What we see is the shadow of the real objects in the real world behind us. We, knowing no better, think that this is reality.

“Then in every way such prisoners would deem reality to be nothing else than the shadows of the artificial objects.” (Plat. Rep. 7.515c)

To escape the slavery in the cave one would have to be an enlightened philosopher, and even then once your eyes had adjusted to the very bright light of the realm of the forms, no one would believe you if you returned to the cafe to enlighten others.

Plato’s Forms applied to concepts such as friendship and beauty as well as chairs and tables. These ideal Forms were the absolute essence of the objects we see in imitation. According to Plato, nothing can be innovative.

“The work of the creator, whenever he looks to the unchangeable and fashions the form and nature of his work after an unchangeable pattern, must necessarily be made fair and perfect ….” (Timaeus 28

Are there limited stories?

Christopher Booker lists 7 basic plots that he thinks are the basis for every story ever told. (Booker 2005): Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, The Quest, Voyage and Return. Comedy, Tragedy, Rebirth.

This is important in terms of imitation, with only 7 plot lines, there is a finite number of stories that can be written. Booker breaks down plots into meta plots which can be modified but essentially he describes limitation. Is it possible to write something new? Does this limitation apply to visual art as well?

I think that new stories (both visual and textual) can be born from new technologies. The 1950’s brought a wave of science fiction that was only made possible by the race to the moon triggering leaps of imagination, although there are many parallels between sci-fi monsters and ancient mythological beasts. “As a referent, modern myth, especially science fiction replaces the cosmos with the concept of space” (Sutton 1969 p235). New technology has made it possible to represent the impossible with 3D prints of the Calibi Yau manifold, a representation of n-dimensions freely available on Thingiverse.

Figure 14. Calabi-Yau by carlofonda (2013) Available from:

Aspiring to innovation

I suspect that a certain level of imitation is unavoidable and potter Simon Leach agrees with me:

“… no doubt someone has done one better or similar. None of us are really original are we? We just copy from one another. We think we are original but we don’t copy the idea from someone else or we see it in a magazine, we copy from nature so I suppose it’s not really original.” (Leach 2017 1.31s)

In the Education Bookcast podcast, Staś Pstrokonski uses the term “thought attractor” to denote the ingrained patterns of thinking experts can get into.

“de Bono suggests that maybe it is better not to know some things. Because you can’t come up with ideas so easily if you are near a thought attractor that sucks you in, sometimes it is better not to know some things in a field. This is another case where he is in favour of ignorance.” (Pstrokonski 2018)

I have limited experience of working with clay so my experimentation was less at risk of being sucked into one of Pstrokonski’s thought attractors.

Experimenting with the intersections as inspiration

Instead of using ideas from philosophy, scientific theories or artistic works as direct inspiration I have taken elements from the intersections of philosophy, science and art.

Philosophy ∩ Science Science ∩ Art Art ∩  Philosophy
Type of thinking Convergent Lateral Divergent
Dante’s Inferno Hell Purgatory Heaven
OOO Undermining Duomining Overmining
Sourdough Autolysis Proving Cooking
Microscopy Killing and fixing Centrifuge Gold plating/splatter
Water vapour Precipitates Condenses Evaporates


I spent 5 days over Easter following the path of Dante through hell. I used the Clive James translation of the Divine Comedy because although it lacks the mathematical structure of the work in its original Italian, it has footnotes included in the text. Dante included a lot of his contemporaries and other people who were famous in the 1300’s in the Divine Comedy. Reading a more accurate translation would leave me ignorant of the nuances and reasons he included real people. I cannot read Italian so the delicate structuring of the original would be lost on me.

I converged my thinking into the one book and used it as a form of Oblique Strategies, a set of cards developed by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt in 1975. Each card has an instruction or phrase designed to help you break out of a creative rut. Some cards are more cryptic than others, some simply say ‘step outside’ or ‘wash the dishes’.  This distancing from decision making can be liberating as some of the creative decision making is removed from the equation.

In order to avoid a direct imitation, translation or response to Dante’s Inferno, and the microscope images of my sourdough starter I used the sourdough in the proving stage as the initial medium for experimentation.

The route Dante travelled dictated a variety of unusual actions made with sourdough. The dough was buried, beaten, burnt and viable creative outcomes then applied to clay forms based on the microscopic pictures of the dough.

I added cat fur to represent the animals that block Dante’s path. In Canto 6, Circle 3, where the gluttonous sinners are stuck in muddy ground pelted with rain I set the hose pipe on the dough. In Canto 7, Circle 5, my soggy dough was covered in soil to represent the river Styx where the angry sinners reside. Just before the heretics were to be eternally roasted in coffins I used a scientific process and reserved half the mixture in case of accidental spoilage. Some of this dough was further mixed with clay in the hope that the yeast would have the strength to push the clay out of shape while rising but in reality, the clay killed and fixed the dough, just like the first stage of preparing the sample for the microscope.

In between torturing dough I built clay forms based on the microscopic images and attempted to make pots from the live clay/dough mixture. I relied on evaporation to slowly dry the clay out without cracking it and I kept the clay covered lightly with plastic to avoid cracks.

Experiment outcomes

A number of useful findings came from the experiments. The sourdough fought for life and although it did not have the strength to move clay at room temperature, it might in an oven. It also might be strong enough to move clay slip. I haven’t found any other artists who are experimenting with yeast rising in clay so I can call that a step towards innovation, albeit a small one which requires further testing.

As the dirty sourdough kept rising, patterns were formed in mud through the dough. This could be replicated with ink and used for mono printing.

The clay forms brought some interesting technical challenges. The clay had to be dry enough to hold a shape but wet enough to manipulate. On some occasions what they clay wanted to do under the force of gravity was better than the plans I originally had for it.

Conclusion: creativity requires movement

As creative solutions can be used by scientists and philosophers, scientific methodology and philosophical theories can be used as creative solutions. There is immense value in interdisciplinary collaboration as a catalyst for innovation.

The main common theme throughout all the intersections of science, philosophy and art in this essay is one of movement, not only physical but between disciplines.

Philosopher Gilles Deleuze and physiatrist Felix Guattari describe the “catastrophe” that artists have to go through to leap from “chaos to composition” (Deleuze & Guattari, 1994 p.203).  I suggest that this leap is less disastrous when elements from philosophy and science are used to aid the creative process.


This essay would not have been possible without inter departmental collaboration from Philosophy and the Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences at UWE.

I am indebted to the following people for their help, patience and support:

Dr Iain Hamilton-Grant who very generously let me sit in on his Philosophy of Art lectures.

Dr David Patton, Sue Hula and Paul Kendrick who talked me through the workings of an electron microscope, discussed fermentation with me and took many incredible photographs of my sourdough starter.

David Corry for microscopic images using a different process that gave me a different perspective.


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The Experiment: Dante’s Inferno in sourdough

Notes from the experiment to manipulate sourdough in its raw state using the Clive James translation of Dante’s Inferno literally.

Canto 1 Maundy Thursday

Halfway through life, lost in a forest, Dante strays from the path and stumbles upon a treeless hill. The sun softened the hard scene so he rested for a while. He meets the leopard (lust), (31) and the sun rises. Prideful lion and the greedy wolf joined the leopard to stop him climbing further. Dante cries at the thought of having to turn back and go through the forest again.

Virgil appears, Dante describes his fear “My veins are empty, all blood sucked back into the heart”. (112) Virgil explains that he has to go on or choose another route because only the greyhound will make the leopard go away.

Canto 2 In the clearing

Thursday evening. Beatrice appears telling Dante to go with Virgil. 73

Canto 3 Vestibule of Hell

Abandon all hope all ye who enter here on the gate to hell. Dark in colour and meaning. Through the gate the people who took no sides, the uncommitted, who are now arguing loudly. They are in darkness and never see the sky. They are chased by wasps and hornets. Maggots and worms eat and drink their blood and pus. They are in spiritual stagnation. Dante faints on the boat to hell.

Sourdough starter:

To the starter I added cat fur, Chinese funeral money and stagnant water with dead flies.  This was left out overnight. The cat fur represents the animals. The money avarice and the dead flies the vestibule of hell. Adding cat fur to food made me retch. The money disintegrated quickly but the cat fur clumped up. I prepared clay slabs for building.


Good Friday, Canto 4, Circle 1 Limbo

Woken by thunder Dante notices he is on the edge of a large pit. Circle 1 is limbo where the unbaptised must stay. No punishment but it is a sad place because they can never get to heaven.

Dough Canto 4

I’m making bread to eat at the same time as torturing the sourdough as an experiment. For limbo, both doughs are in their first prove for 40 minutes. The experimental bread does not look too bad at the moment, it is darker than the eating bread.

Canto 5, Circle 2, Lust

Minos selects the circles for the people who go willingly through hells gate/mouth (!), knowing which is fitting. Smaller in diameter and lower than circle 1, circle 2 is windy, eternally blowing the lustful around. Dante faints.

Dough Canto 5 Circle 2

I blasted the dough with a hairdryer on fast. The dough tried to rise but was killed off by the heat. Ripples in the dough appeared but vanished soon after. This felt like the dough was trying to stay alive, fighting for its life.

Canto 6, Circle 3, Gluttony

Dark cold rain falls at a steady density and fixed rate. Dirty water hail and snow. Scored to bits by 3 headed worm creature Cerberus the sinners flat on the muddy, icy sludgy ground and can only turn from side to side.

Dough Canto 6, Circle 3, Gluttony

I added dirty water and ran the hosepipe over the dough. I’m wondering if starch will wash off, leaving just the stretchy gluten.

NOTE TO SELF  – Repetitive theme of 3: Ciacco talks of 3 main motives, Envy, Avarice, Pride. 84

Canto 7, Circle 4, Greedy and Wasteful

NOTE TO SELF  – Repetitive theme of 3: Avarice and Prodigality (Virtue is in the middle)

Hoarders and Wasters joust with huge rocks they push with their chests.

Dough Canto 7, Circle 4

To represent the weight that the hoarders and wasters have to push around I placed a large and heavy rock onto the dough. I’m following the rising and proving pattern for normal sourdough which I’m baking simultaneously. At this stage the edible dough is on its 3rd rise.

The stars start to fall so the new day is about to break.

Canto 7, Circle 5, Anger

Dante and Virgil cross the river Styx and see angry people fight in the mud.

Dough Canto 7, Circle 5

The dough is covered in soil to make mud. My soil is not clay enough to make good sticky mud. The edible sourdough is now shaped and on its final prove which lasts an hour and a half.

End of upper hell is end of Good Friday. Virgil and Dante end up at the foot of a tower.

The clay slab is ready to work with and I use it to form vessels based on the electron microscope pictures.

Canto 8

Saturday – The walled city of Dis has an eternal fire.

Canto 9, Circle 6, Heresy

The arch heretics are roasted in open coffins.

Dough Canto 9. Circle 6

I reserved some of the sample to mix with clay – the idea of keeping some of it back was from the electron microscope preparation when a back up is always kept in case.

The heretical dough was roasted.

Still it bubbled and tried to rise. There are swirls and patterns in the dough as it cooks.

The still live, muddy sourdough was mixed with clay and formed into rough pots. It is hard to shape, it tears and clumps. I let the clay mixture do what it wanted more than struggle with it. This is wrapped up in cling film in the hope that the sourdough will continue to rise under the heat and trapped moisture and will shape the clay more.

End of experiment – further things to try

printing with the cooked clay

using clay slip with sourdough and casting it

indenting the clay slabs with the cooked clay

working with very wet clay that can be manipulated by the strength of the sourdough

Canto 10, Circle 7, Violence

Divided into 3 rings

Murderers in boiling blood (red dye or beetroot powder, terracotta clay stains, is there a red clay?)

Suicides who are turned into trees and bushes, snapped by harpies and profligates torn to bits by dogs. (shaping by twigs, use the branches to define the shape)

Blasphemers and sodomites in burning sand and burning rain (casting sand, heated, drop sourdough into it)


Circle 8, Fraud, divided into 10 ditches with bridges between them. (strata of SEM images)

1 – panderers and seducers – whipped by devils (marks made by lashes on dough)

2 – flatterers – covered in dirt/filth

3 – simony – upside down in holes with feet on fire (uneven firing?)

4 – sorcerers and false prophets – heads turned backwards (twisting constructed pots)

5 – corrupt politicians – covered in boiling tar (can tar act as glaze)

6 – hypocrites – lead cloaks (what happens to metal in a kiln?)

7 – thieves – in a snake pit

8 – evil advisors – in flames (Raku!)

9 – divisive individuals – wounded and mutilated (smashed, cut, sawn)

10 – alchemists, counterfeiters – diseases, leprosy, madness…


Circle 9 Treachery and Fraud

4 rounds – all frozen in icy lake. – this is a bending movement, similar to coning down on a potters wheel.

Murders of kin – in ice to necks, heads forward

Traitors to country- in ice to necks, head back

Traitors to lords – submerged in ice

In the middle is Lucifer who’s tail leads down to a path that leads upwards to the surface and purgatory.











Philosophy, art and science intersect in interdiscipline

The Tiny Art Gallery Manual

a book to help you run your own small gallery kindle and in print

a book to help you run your own small gallery kindle and in print