Morphological Analysis

Morphological analysis or general morphological analysis is a method developed by Fritz Zwicky (1967, 1969) for exploring all the possible solutions to a multi-dimensional, non-quantified complex problem.

Consider a complex, real-world problem, like those of marketing or making policies for a nation, where there are many governing factors, and most of them cannot be expressed as numerical time series data, as one would like to have for building mathematical models.

The conventional approach here would be to break the system down into parts, isolate the vital parts (dropping the ‘trivial’ components) for their contributions to the output and solve the simplified system for creating desired models or scenarios. The disadvantage of this method is that real-world scenarios do not behave rationally: more often than not, a simplified model will break down when the contribution of the ‘trivial’ components becomes significant. Also, importantly, the behaviour of many components will be governed by the states of, and their relations with, other components – ones that may be seen to be minor before the analysis.

Morphological analysis, on the other hand, does not drop any of the components from the system itself, but works backwards from the output towards the system internals. Again, the interactions and relations get to play their parts in MA and their effects are accounted for in the analysis.

Combining this method with photographs of Marcel Duchamp’s iconic Fountain from printed matter, the work itself becomes some sort of a morphological analysis not only of Duchamps work but of a certain practice of documentation and referencing of works of art in different contexts. What evolves is a growing archive of currently over 300 torn-out pages, reframed and decontextualized from their origin.