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"my search for a classical form in the emerging medium of digital art" - harvey rayner

Archive for July, 2007

Domain Stretching And Parabolic Tensile Print Art

Thursday, July 5th, 2007

Tensile Skin Print Art

Parabolic Spandex Print Art

For many years I have racked my brain trying to conceive a way of bringing Root2Art into a big gallery space. Or to put it another way, into the domain of ‘serious’ art – something self contained and able to work well within a public space. For me, there is a fundamental purity in a flat 2D image hanging on a flat 2D wall, but there is also conversely an inherent lack of dynamics in this arrangement. I think this is partly why we see so much sculpture in many of the big galleries now. Big white bare rooms need art that activates the space they contain in order to make the ‘gallery’ work.

My own method of working has been grounded in 2D geometry for many years now and in my own estimation, my sculpture output lacks the integrity of my 2D compositional work for this reason. I therefore have had a problem in realising my work in a dynamic way in 3D space. But maybe, there is a very simple solution I have been overlooking.

The idea came from my current investigations into Analysis and Number Theory of which I am proving to be a keen, but slow student. I was reading about ‘domain stretch’ which is an idea in mathematics that I’ve kinda been thinking about for many years in just an intuitive and abstract way though my artistic/geometric language. To the Artist, who like the rest of us is apparently stuck in these three visible dimensions of space, the 2D surface has a particularly significant status. It represents a means of expressing the world that is beyond the limitations of three dimensions: the world of emotion, realisation and abstract thought. In mathematics however, we have a multi dimensional universe of which 2 dimensions is just one facet. When we move from flat two dimensional space in mathematics into the concepts of topology or hyperbolic space for instance we find new and powerful tools to describe the world. From a mathematics point of view the notion that notion that a 2D surface is ‘fundamentally’ flat is only true within certain sets of limits.

But this is not all. Digital wide format printing on modern fabrics offers the artist new possibilities to re-investigate the 2D surface. Taking the conventional stretched canvas as a starting point, how do we ‘stretch its domain’ both in terms of its physical properties and symbolism into the 21st Century? Into the contemporary big gallery art arena?

In terms of stretching any membrane surface, one way to evenly distribute the stretching and thus increase the limits of the material is through double curvature. If you have ever looked closely at modern architecture that uses tensile fabric you will notice that the fabric in never stretch in a flat plain like with a stretch art canvas. The fabric forms always contain double opposing curvatures. This is the most efficient way to evenly distribute the stresses in the material and thus create the greatest stability in a skinned structure. The actually forms that have evolved out of this engineering science have great beauty which is a reflection of their great structure integrity.

So I say, why not apply this same treatment to the conventional stretched picture canvas. My feeling about my work being applied to a parabolic surface in this way is that the underlying geometry is not corrupted, but rather the domain of the geometry is expanded. With this simple arrangement above, when the compositions are view orthogonally from the from, they appear square. Excluding the effects of perspective, all the geometry is persevered as if on a flat surface from this view. When one moves around the surfaces then the stretching becomes apparent and the information is thus expanded – its domain stretched.