Substantial Motion Research Network



The Substantial Motion Research Network gets its name from harakat al-jawhariyya, the process in which things transform from within in response to the universe’s stimulations from without, as theorized by Sadr al-Dīn al-Shīrāzī. An international research network of scholars and artists, we stimulate each other to think and create across cultures and media. Starting from shared interests in the links between Islamic philosophy and digital media and in the connective method of enfolding-unfolding aesthetics, our interests have diversified as our membership grows. SMRN is a secret society, but this channel allows you to listen in on some of our most exciting conversations.

Music created by Çiğdem Borucu.

Logo by Monica Hernandez


Islamic geometric patterns and Expanded Diagrams

Recorded on 2021-07-31

Steven began the session by tying it back to an earlier presentation of his Expanded Diagram Project. One of his aspirations of that still ongoing study is to transcend the overly constrained, largely western-based categories of contemporary art by illuminating specific kinds of creative processes that span a wide range of historical and contemporary world […]

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Aesthetics of Breath: A Conversation between Juan Castrillón and Kalpana Subramanian

Recorded on 2019-09-01

Juan Castrillón and Kalpana Subramanian discuss the aesthetics of breath. They ask how one might explore non-Western genealogies of breath in connection with notions of subjectivity, affectivity and ‘becoming.’ Juan sheds light on sonic perspectives of dervishes from the Anatolian peninsula drawing on his own experience of playing the Ney (a reed flute). Kalpana touches […]

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The infinitesimal, the life of the pixel, and the origin of SMRN

Azadeh Emadi and Laura U. Marks talk about their shared interest in the meeting points between digital media and Islamic art and philosophy–especially the minimal part, the infinitesimal, and the pixel–that led them to found the Substantial Motion Research Network. Bumper by Çiğdem Borucu

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The Shadow-Theatre of the World

Farshid Kazemi and Siying Duan discuss their mutual interest in shadow-theatre and the magic lantern as early precursors to the art of the cinema. The conversation begins with how the use of shadow-puppetry in Plato’s allegory of the Cave and the Persian philosopher and poet Omar Khayyam’s reference to the magic lantern in the 11th century functioned as a technology to […]

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Diagrammatic Thinking

A philosophical conversion on diagram among Substantial Motion Research Network members Laura Marks, Steve Baris, JR Osborn, Kalpana Subramanian, Siying Duan, Radek Przedpelski and Yvan Tina. Topics covered include delightful diagrams, diagrams in world cultures and resistance to diagrams. 

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