Choreographer and researcher João Fiadeiro speaks with computer scientist David Hales on complex systems science, decentralised decision making, and their implications for social and community phenomena. They draw parallels between ‘stigmergy’ – decentralised coordination observed in, for example, ants – and Fiadeiro’s Real Time Composition system, which through the lab of dance, researches sustainable modes of social organisation, apart from ‘top down’ authority, suspending habit and knowledge, and outside linear conceptions of time. Hales speaks about the decentralised networking used in software development as another alternative model of organising.
This talk was part of Crossing Borders 2010 and was presented in partnership with London Contemporary Dance School.
João Fiadeiro (1965) is a Portuguese performer, choreographer, researcher, teacher and curator. He belongs to the generation of artists who emerged in the late eighties in Portugal and gave rise to the New Portuguese Dance movement. He was the artistic director of ATELIER RE.AL a structure that played a major role in the development of contemporary dance and trans-disciplinary initiatives in Portugal. João Fiadeiro has toured extensively throughout Europe, North and South America with his solo and group works. In the 90s João Fiadeiro studied and practiced intensively Contact-Improvisation which led him to pursue and systematize his own research on improvisation under the designation of Real Time Composition. This research has led him to coordinate workshops in Masters and PhDs programs in several schools and universities throughout the world.
David Hales does research at the overlap between computer science and social science. he is interested in open distributed systems that include both machine and human agencies where the imposition of central control is not an option and one can’t rely on the “invisible hands” of orthodox economic (or game) theory. New kinds of social theory and distributed self-organising systems programming are required.
He has explored these ideas through evolutionary cooperation theory, complex networks, agent-based modelling and peer-to-peer systems. He is also interested in the application of new approaches to collective coordination that focus on social interaction rather than traditional economics-type incentive mechanisms. Hales has worked as a research fellow at various European institutions including: the University of Essex; Manchester Metropolitan University; University of Bologna; Technical University of Delft; The Open University in Milton Keynes, UK; University of Szeged in Hungary; CNR Rome; ETH Lausanne; and The Hutton Institute in Aberdeen, Scotland. He is an honorary fellow of the Centre for Policy Modelling at Manchester Metropolitan University and also visiting senior research fellow of the Centre for Complexity and Design at the Open University, UK. I also undertake occasional contract work for the European Commission.
João Fiadeiro’s biography was adapted from a version submitted in 2020; David Hales’ biography was adapted from his website in 2022.