Group Theory

by Carson Reynolds

Last week I saw Group at the Coolidge. It was a pretty entertaining movie, mostly because it’s hard to tell how much is fiction, and how much reality. In doing a little digging around, Steven found a quote from Carrie Brownstein (best known for her work with Sleater-Kinney) about why Oly’s art scene is so tightly knitt:

“This is an impossible question to answer because anything so insular thrives on inexplicability. It all comes down to the mathematical concept of an oscillator-a unit whose natural dynamic causes it to repeat the same cycle of behavior over and over again. Systems, in this case the Olympia art “scene”, oscillate because it is the simplest thing you can do if you don’t want to remain still. Thus, in order to resist stagnation, we enact something called bifurcation in which periodic oscillations grow out from the original steady state like a ripple on a pond growing out from its center. For further information one can look up the German mathemetician Eberhard Hopf.”

Maybe it’s all the dynamical systems books I’ve been reading, but someone using a bunch of math-fu to explain why Oly’s been kicking out culture just totally amused me.