Mathematics - Practice - Abstract Systems

I've been reading Toward an Anthropological Theory of Value by David Graeber as part of a project by Sal Randolph. I also recently read David Foster Wallace's Everything and More: A Compact History of Infinity. Both books discuss the development of mathematics moving from the practice of counting to the "idea of number." Graeber explains that Jean Piaget "...insists that the basis of any system of knowledge is always a set of practices." This line of thinking seems to dovetail nicely with the trajectory of art history. The idea of art, and ultimately, the arc of conceptualism, would be born of material practices. What keeps this interesting is that Graeber notes the recursive nature of knowledge systems - "...[development is not] simply a matter of achieving a certain level and then stopping; there are always new and more complex levels one could generate." Art then, to extend this a bit, can be seen as a set of material practices that provide a launching point for abstract conceptual models which then act recursively to frame future material practices and on and on...

For an expanded discussion, see Anthony Wilden's Ecosystem and Metasystem which is Chapter 12 of his book System and Structure: Essays in Communication and Exchange [a staggering book which has not been nearly as influential as it merits - it is out of print and I can't even find a decent link for a discussion of Wilden himself although this book is a nice application of many of his ideas]. In the chapter he maps out a number of features and types of recursive systems using a communication theory framework. In this chapter alone he touches on evolutionary theory, linguistics, economics, etc. Extrapolating his analysis to art practices allows for some interesting ways to reconfigure art historical narratives.