Paradoxes

Paradoxes is a visualisation workshop for curious designers that I authored and led in 2014. We focused on communicating and explaining some of the most abstract thought exercises and complex phenomena — logical and scientific paradoxes.

A paradox is a seemingly self-contradicting statement that, yet, can be true. There are many paradoxes in philosophy and sciences, for example:

Some of them have already been solved. Other still remain to be explained.

'Relativity' by M. C. Escher
Relativity by M. C. Escher shows paradoxical architecture.

A story or a visualisation is often used to explain a paradox — they show the abstract problem underlying the paradox in more direct and tangible terms that are easier to relate to.

Here is a nice visualisation of the Achilles and the Tortoise Paradox.

"In a race, the quickest runner can never overtake the slowest, since the pursuer must first reach the point whence the pursued started, so that the slower must always hold a lead." Aristotle, Physics VI:9, 239b15

A story or a visualisation is often used to explain a paradox — they show the abstract problem underlying the paradox in more direct and tangible terms that are easier to relate to.

Here is a nice visualisation of the Achilles and the Tortoise Paradox.

Visualisation of the Zeno Achilles Paradox from Wikipedia by Martin Grandjean
Zeno Achilles Paradox by Martin Grandjean, Wikimedia Commons.

"In a race, the quickest runner can never overtake the slowest, since the pursuer must first reach the point whence the pursued started, so that the slower must always hold a lead." Aristotle, Physics VI:9, 239b15

My workshop had two parts. In the first part, workshop participants selected a paradox and worked in groups to create a visualisation that could be used to explain the contradition in that paradox to another team.

The Liar Paroadox
The Achilles and the Tortoise Paroadox
The Olbers' Dark Night Sky Paroadox
The Fermi Paroadox
The Twin Paroadox
The Tea Leaf Paroadox

Solving a paradox is not easy. It takes generations of thinkers to come up with a valid solution (if it exists at all).

In the second part of the workshop, participants tried to come up with their own speculative solutions to the each paradox, and to visualise them.

During the workshop During the workshop During the workshop During the workshop
Photos by the Think(in) Visual Communication conference, 2014.

I ran the Paradoxes workshop for curious designers as part of the Think(in) Visual Communication international conference in Warsaw, 2014.