University of Hertfordshire

Professor Simeon Nelson FRSA, FRGS, ARBS

Simeon Nelson

Professor Simeon Nelson FRSA, FRGS, ARBS

Postal address:
University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, Hertfordshire
United Kingdom


Research interests

My inter-disciplinary sculpture, installation, time based work and writing  offers insights into pattern,perception, and systemic connections between art and science.

I collaborate with musicians, programmers and scientists. I  work with leading arts organisations like Artichoke and funders including the Wellcome Trust, The Arts Council and international agencies. I disseminate my work through exhibitions, public artworks, lumieres, performances, publications and lectures. My work migrates between public installation, concert-hall and gallery/museums. For example Cosmoscope has had a non-academic audience in excess of 200,000 and outreach to 25 schools and 8000 students so far. 

My work is conceptually underpinned by developments in quantum, chaos and complex systems theory that continue to revolutionize the human and physical sciences. In contrast to an out-dated, mechanistic worldview these developments envision an organic, interrelational and ceaselessly creative cosmos, imbued with value and agency, calling for our ethical engagement. Binary categories such as mind and matter, subject and object are reframed as vantage points within unified experience. Ideas informing this approach, for example: autopoiesis (Varela), holarchy, (Koestler) second-order cybernetics (Bateson), radical empiricism (James), elan vital (Bergson) and philosophy of organism (Whitehead) share an apprehension of humanity and nature as a divisible whole. The works are organised around geometric and iterative systems in which the parts are nodes in a network. For example Desiring Machine 2008 and Cosmoscope 2017-19 display nested hierarchies of scale and dimension, lines, planes, volumes and time-based light and sound elements speak to each other - parts only make sense in relationship to each other and their constitutive whole.  This gestalt has the characteristics of a complex adaptive system in the way the parts interact and different patterns emerge depending on the viewers position. 

Main supervisory interests include: convergences between science, religion and art, complexity theory, visual languages, spatial aesthetics, interdisciplinary collaborative practice, relationships between art, architecture and the natural world.


Teaching specialisms

Interdisciplinary practices; public art practices; art, science and consciousness