Thursday, August 10, 2017

New Frontier

Alan Singer
"The High Plateau"
transfer monotype

My interest in Mathematics and Art that I experienced at the recent BRIDGES conference in Waterloo, Ontario has been strengthened.  It was good to see that there were growing numbers of interested practitioners at the conference and that they were so willing to share their enthusiasm.

BRIDGES Conference for 2017
underway in Waterloo University
Waterloo, Ontario

Years ago, I wanted to have geometric shapes in my paintings and I had to go back and remember what the formula was for building a pentagon or a hexagon.  I looked up programs on the computer that could help me and found Mathematica and downloaded it.  Terms used on this site were unfamiliar to me.  Looking over "Implicit Surfaces" attracted me because you could write in your own instructions in the form of an equation and a program like 3D-Xplormath could render an image for you.  Before, I never stopped to think that there was a visual equivalent to a few lines of algebra.

Dan Bach exhibition at BRIDGES 2017

In Germany they had a "Year of Mathematics" in 2008 and the results included the completion of new software to help people like me  visualize mathematical shapes.  One program is called Cinderella and it came as part of a geometry toolbox that you could download for free.  I got hooked on using this program to produce images like the one at the top of this post.

Last week during my visit to BRIDGES in Waterloo, Ontario I had the chance to hear from a wide variety of practitioners of mathematical disciplines and presenters at the conference brought their artwork to show.  In the past, artists like M.C. Escher would use symmetry as a way of creating art that was attractive and thought provoking.  My own art uses symmetry, but I am also interested in the compositional prospect of using geometry in my paintings and prints.

University of Waterloo Art Gallery

I am more interested in an art that has compositional aspects, and too often the artwork that I found at BRIDGES just had an image floating against a blank surface.  True, this allows you to study the object carefully without other distraction, but I like the relational aspect of art and I often want to see a form in relation to other forms, more "natural" if you will.

There were several beautiful pieces in the BRIDGES exhibitions, so I was happy to be part of this experience.  I spoke with one of the founders of the BRIDGES conference, and remarked on how it has grown over the years.  Carlo Sequin is a force in this field of math and art.  He had a very fine discussion that I attended and below is one of his sculptures.

Carlo Sequin

I was very impressed by the UWAG art gallery space and there was a very interesting opening that happened to coincide with the BRIDGES conference.  I particularly like the paintings of Andrew Smith, shown below.  He is onto something unique and very directional.

Painting by Andrew J. Smith

Opening at UWAG
"Passage & Obstacle"

It seems clear to me that there are many new frontiers for an artist to forage for ideas and expression.  I think that the visual aspect of mathematics is just beginning to unfold, and this arena just was not accessible before the era of the computer for most people.  This kind of art is just in its infancy, but there is a considerable amount of energy and interest to be found there.  The Waterloo University is a sprawling campus and full of people making the most of their education, which I found to be exciting and enjoyable.