Sometimes composing a picture may take weeks, months and sometimes even years. Other times a new distinct composition is born from a simple act of match making. Within my body of work I find certain compositions like people compliment and enhance each other and work together as a single unit. The old proverb that ‘opposites attract’ also seems to have some truth when marrying visual elements as it does with people.
Cezanne’s dying words were reported to be ‘All lies in contrast’. I’d say this is a pretty good place to start for any aspiring artist looking to find his/her own voice. Bringing together contrasting elements still forms the meat and two veg activity of all my work. The of contrasting represented in this work is an example at one end of a scale: contrasting a straight line with a curve to form part of a new motif might be an example at the other. For me the best unions in art are the one’s made in complete certainty and with the least fuss.
This ‘picture polyphony’ is simply three pages from a book I designed about 5 years ago. At the time (somewhat typically) I lost interest in the project as soon as the design work was complete. I’d pretty much forgotten about this work, but this week I found some prints whilst tidying my studio that led me to dig into my hard drive for the source files and have a play with this material.
I’ve been playing around with this parabolic form that could be made relatively easily from any rigid sheet material. I made one out of card board and its kinda nice to handle as it has unusual springy structural properties. Maybe it could be used within an architectural context, or maybe it will end up as a key element in an installation. I’m not homing in on any one idea just yet. Its all still very crude.
If it doesn’t make you go blind this makes an interesting repeating background tile. I’m not actually setting out to make optical art, I’m more interested in this instance with the underlying family of ellipses. The tones I have used here come from a method I am developing to visually represent values in simple arithmetic patterns I am exploring. The result of this geekiness is quite fun. Or does it only feel fun for the geek?
Here is the URL to a slightly smaller version of this tile:-
I’m looking for two things in my current work of which this is a small unripe fruit. I’m looking to see if any real maths in my head and also, I’m looking to create new artistic language that’s distinctly different from all previous root2art work. This last aim will only come out of a radical shift in subject matter which the first aim hopefully will provide.
This is a variation based on a sculptural work I designed about five years ago. I’m currently using it in a more complex 2d/3d/architectural beast of a project I’m calling ‘Three Degrees of Sculptural Integrity’. I haven’t included the rest as it is just too unresolved despite my having worked on it now for over a year on and off.
It was interesting to hear Anthony Gormley in interview on the world service a few days back. He concluded the interview by commenting that he had become ‘like an administrator of some strange school’. (or something like that). I believe he was referring to the fact that in order to maintain his international profile and produce his large scale installations his time was being consumed by administration and project management duties and he had little time for what he described as ‘play’. The word ‘play’ here meaning, real focused creativity.
This example supports my belief that recognition and wealth as a result of one’s art brings with it just a new set of restrictions and obstacles to creativity. Being somewhat underground my barriers to finding plenty of ‘play’ time are mainly working to pay the bills, raising our family and staying fit. Still I manage these things in such a way and apply the art of resourcefulness to give me a good 80% playtime from my time when I am not sleeping. This I reckon is pretty good. For me, organising shows, and even trying to sell and promote my work is just activities that eat into this 80%. This is mainly why I don’t bother. I have invested a lot of time in developing this site, but I see this as a direct extension of my work and a creative activity that enriches my output.
My point being I guess is this: whilst I remain an unknown entity in the larger art world it is probably much easier for me to focus on very ambitious (creatively ambitious not just large scale) work. I can still take risks as an artist. My work in mathematics and the new art that is starting to emerge from this for me is/was a huge risk. But then how much bigger this risk would have been if the weight of expectation was upon me. My immediate family and friends have always had the expectation that I should one day make an impact on the art world, but I’m so used to not delivering on this score in terms of success they can recognize, this kind of pressure no longer interferes with me. My sculptural project that is running along side my work in maths is, I believe, massively ambitious and this ambition is a consequence of and a contributing factor to working in isolation and obscurity.
There are many eminent artists around today who are making large scale ‘ambitious’ works. How many of these works however are just ambitious in the sense that they are big, expensive and resource thirsty. Artistic ambition for me has never been about these things but about how one organises one’s day to day life with a single-minded focuses on evolving art over months, years and decades.
I’m reminded here of the first line of the first poem I every wrote about my art work: ‘art derived from geometry: geometry derived from art’
Whilst I’ve created no great work of art or mathematics here I’m quite excited by this ‘thing’.
As bizarre as it may seem to us today: – until Pythagoras discovered the connection between musical harmonics and mathematics it was universally believed that there was no connection between the science of nature and numbers. Mathematics in ancient Greek times was a purely philosophical discipline. In fact it was also Pythagoras who was also believed to have invented the term philosophy. Mathematics today seems to creep into just about all subjects including art.
This last month I’ve been working mostly on a pure mathematics project. Hence not much activity here on my art blog. For centuries mathematicians have been obsessed with trying to find a pattern to the sequence of prime numbers in the number line. For what its worth here is my own completely intuitive feeling about the primes based on my own work in this area. Within the apparent randomness of the placement of the primes is a property like that of mind. As mind gives rise to an external world, and the external world gives rise to mind: so to can certain mathematical patterns be reflected in the sequence of primes, and simultaneously the primes can give rise to patterns in other mathematical entities.
This is a tough one to articulate! Trying again:- The primes have an ability to reflect and reveal certain seemingly unrelated patterns in mathematics, yet the primes by nature have no logical sequence that can be described in isolation from other mathematical ‘environments’.
I’m somehow invoked by the study of the primes into thinking about the nature of memory, mind and the memory properties of water. Not that I know much about these things. As I said, this is just an intuitive ‘feeling’ and I have no logical reasoning to support my dumb artist’s hypothesis.
If nothing comes out of my current project in the way of real maths, then I’m hoping I can at least get some good visuals.
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.
MyArtSpace.com are running a competition which seems half way decent, although they are charging which makes anyone entering, myself included, seem a little gullible and desperate. I did a little research on the jurors and they have a few credentials between them. They include:-
Jessica Morgan, Curator, Contemporary Art, The Tate Modern, London
James Rondeau, Frances and Thomas Dittmer Curator of Contemporary Art, The Art Institute of Chicago
Steven Zevitas, Publisher and Editor of New American Paintings
I figure, assuming they get to see all the entries and they are not picked over first by the MyArtSpace secutery, that at Â£12 ($25), an entry would be a cheap advert to a very targeted bunch of curators. Its also possible that those jurors spend as much time on the net as the rest of us plebs, and some of that good digital aesthetic that gives form to the prettier places on the net has started to seep into their institutionalised visual vocabularies (and started to liberate them…LOL). If by a miracle my work is recognised as being real art by the jurors and they visit my site and read this, then I’ve probably just shot myself in the bollocks.
Still, I have to enjoy being ‘underground’ whilst I can, before I too become institutionalized.
I’m becoming more convinced that, within the geometry/art canon I have begun with Root2Art, I can find the next generation of artistic form and content, from dipping further into pure mathematics. Analysis to be more precise. The image above reveals nothing about any original idea in mathematics, or indeed unoriginal idea. I’m gambling, however that if I genuinely commit to learning the tools, theorems and history of a particular area of mathematical investigation I’ve been interested in for many years, that I can come up with some fruit. The nature of this fruit might be original art, or maybe even an original idea in mathematics, but maybe it could be something worthy of the name ‘Hypothesis Art’.
Is it possible to create a purely visual statement about a purely mathematical idea, or is this really stretching language too thinly? A visual statement one with real meaning that is, not just some crap conceptual piece that is supposedly about something no one would ever guess at unless told. But something that has a real intelligent and efficient communicative purpose about it, that could explain in a elegant and efficient way an abstract hypothesis about a function for instance. I’m a firm believer that new artistic language grows out of attempts to solve real visual communication problems. My artistic career so far seems to be one long search for more challenging visual problems to work on. I may not solve them, but the act of trying always brings about new and unexpected visual fruit.
What excites me about this square animation theme is the simplicity of the constituent elements. The exploding and imploding grids are based on simple arithmetic progression and all the rest of the effects are created by contrasting inverted radial fills. From a few simple ingredients there many possible permutations, of which this animation represents only a fraction.
To celebrate the fantastic new Â£400,000 London 2012 Olympics Logo I thought I’d knock one off of my own – Root2Art Style. I’ve kept it monochrome but i feel its strong enough to take on pretty much any color that is called for. lets face it, color is very personal and location specific. it would be fun if other designers took on the challenge of designing a variation of the Olympics Logo and stick them up on their blogs for people to use as an alternative to the official ‘icon’ . I’m not convinced by the epilepsy story, but even if it were true I would be in no position to criticize. Anyone looking through my animations I’m sure might feel like having a fit even if they are not epileptic.
I should Just add that anyone wanting to use my unofficial London 2012 Olympics Logo can use it, unconditionally for free. It only took five minutes to design and I’d feel guilty for charging for a bit of fun.
The Titan… Cheesy name or what? The Titan was a name given to the most expensive in a range of coffins in the brilliant “six Feet Under”. it was shiny metallic black with what looked like stainless steel fixings. i read this as a ironic comment on the attempted materialising of the ultimate proof of the futility of materialistic living. buying this big obscenely expensive, over-specified war chest of a coffin is like a last ditch effort to cramp in some more material support for the sole as it returns to the immaterial void.
I don’t thing my frame really creates this same statement and its not supposed to. its just a picture frame. the name just sprung to mind and as far as picture frames go it is a titan. If i extend my range of frames to sell without my work in them I’d like to make a rubber and stainless version. something for the Sadomasochistic scene. it would be awesome for those treasured erotic S & M photos, wouldn’t it?.. LOL… maybe it needs a few studs.
i don’t have any erotic art of my own to put in this image, but my wife says just about all my compositions contain phallic and vaginal imagery. most of the time she talks shit, but one this instance she may have a point although its not intentional. Its my feeling that if you play with symmetry and visual dynamics you will inevitably end up making things that look like flowers and genitals. nature has found all the best solutions for attracting and focusing our attentions via the visual sense.
this variation on my original node frame should provide a more robust seal around the print and also have the capacity to take thicker print mounts, even stretched canvases.
i’m thinking about building a new shop on a different domain to sell my work in these frames. this site is really the complete online manifestation of my output and has a strong ‘digital arts’ theme. people are not buying digital art like they buy paintings. partly because of the immature nature of a lot of digital art on the net. saying this however, i do feel that the best of the digital art out there is the most pioneering, intelligent and exciting art being made today in any medium. of course i would say this:)
so digital art is, more often than not, immature as an art form – what do i mean by this? the digital art market is immature with few if any tested models for serious artists exploring the medium to sell their work through. digital art is rarely seen in the serious commercial galleries and art fairs. there exists no established place where art buyers go to look for real investment in serious digital artists. art.com doesn’t count LOL
by definition there cannot be an established outlet of this nature being as digital art is not yet established itself within the wider art world.
there is also the question of mature subject matter and themes for digital art. a lot of digital art is woefully puerile in it subject matter. you now the sort of thing: fantasy art, erotic art and the crude post processing of bad digital photography. this 21st Century digital folk art is really just the product of the first generation of net users who were predominantly techies and had to be techies in order to manipulate the software. it isn’t that techies are any less creative than your average painting artist. there is a lot of techy art on the net that has just as much compositional invention and strength as the sort of painted art people are paying big bugs for in Cork Street. Its just that artist working within conventional mediums have an almost infinitely rich pool of artistic language and subject matter to draw upon that has evolved over many centuries. modern painters may not like to concede that they are repeating anything that has been done in the last century, but the languages and themes of modern painting are now so thoroughly ingrained in our culture that a painter can use them like an english poetry uses the english language. a poetry does not have to reinvent his core language to make his statement. he couldn’t better the fundamentals of the language if he tried. we can modify the superficial character of the language, but 99% of the vocabulary and grammar is universally understood and can not be improved upon by one individual. the vocabulary and grammar of painting is also effortless used by painters and there is little radical innovation at this level left to be explored. digital art however is only just beginning to find its own inherent grammatical structures that will evolve out of the peculiarities of different digital tools. many of the themes seen in the ‘digital folk art’ i have described have been borrowed from the techies sci-fi stimulated childhood imaginations. these are not the themes that will become intrinsic to digital forms as time goes on however. i predict that in the 22nd Century that a mediocre digital artist, like the mediocre painter today, will be able to make art that draws on a rich history of art language and subject matter and make digital imagery that looks to all eyes like ‘sophisticated’ mature art. the craft of digital art making will be universally appreciated and artist will find new ways to make digital art unique works. print technology will evolve and new accepted art objects will become convention. the digital print, in whatever form it takes, will become as ubiquitous and converted as the painted canvas is today. only however, hopefully, it won’t crack, fade or peel like the painted canvas does today after just a few decades.
i’ve just bought some Venetian Snares tracks and i completely swept away by his intricately menacing compositions. it kinda reminds me of my teenage years listening to metal and creating dark screaming, angst ridden imagery. all cultures have dark expressions in their art. even in pacifist Buddhist cultures we can find hideous scenes of demons mutilating hell beings. i’d almost forgotten about love of the dark side:)
i’ve been trying to visually crystallize some ideas i’ve been pondering about number theory on and off for many years. i’m not a mathematician and am not trying to create a rigorous mathematical conjecture. all i’m really after is some subject material for creating new art.
needs more ordering and purpose, but i’m quite excited by this simple animation of 100 squares. its not intended to be a complete work in itself, but an ingredient is something all together more ambitious.
more sensual digital art. just a thought… sensuality is not something i’ve explored in my work for many years. i was just thinking about making the work more tactile, something people can look at and get aroused by…lol. to make products like this, i’d have to go back to the studio and start experimenting with actual stuff again. that is to say, paints and finishes. i started to use a computer to get away from all that mess, but may be materials technology can again come to my rescue and allow me to make new sensual forms without getting my hand dirty. i get dirty for a living, i prefer to keep the process of my art making as clean as possible.
today i’ve been thinking about what form my print shop should take and perhaps more importantly what form the prints should take. i’d like to make a broad range of my work available as simple mounted prints. i’m looking at ways to keep the price down, yet still creating a product that will last.
anything on my site is effectively for sale as a print. anyone wishing to make a purchase now before i set my prices in my shop should email me the name of the work they like and i’ll work out a good deal for them.
a sketch from today’s return to making ‘real art’… the blue is not ‘in’, it just shows you what’s what.
this blog has been getting a significant raise in traffic recently. i don’t know if its returning visitors or if it is my articles just being picked up more in the searches. either way this increase in visibility has been in spite of me recently neglecting the ‘real art’ core of this blog. that’s my attempt at regularly updating these pages with new and exciting ‘real digital art’. the last few months have been taken up with work for my pattern project which is really just a stab at gaining broader exposure and maybe some nice cash. its funny, i often get emails from visitors asking how i became an established artist. the truth is i’ve never been financially established. i remain an underground artist and my sales are practically zero. i can only think of 2 pieces i’ve sold in over 10 years..lol
so anyway, that’s not quite what i had in mind when i started to write this post. i was instead thinking of ‘a classical aesthetic for a digital age’. highly pretentious yes. but somehow this describes what my ‘real art’ output aspires to find. i feel its healthy for an artist to always aspire to something that’s very hard to reach. i found this quote by my hero Michelangelo the other day. â€“ â€œThe greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.â€ â€“ i love this.
so what do i mean by ‘classical aesthetic’..? well, an aesthetic that is archetypal and both firmly grounded in convention yet stands outside it. the thing is digital art is a new media pretty much without established conventions and this is where i have to be ambitious. i want to create art that looks like it has its own embedded set of conventions. probably most good art has this, but more over, conventions that can clearly recorded and shared with others. just like the conventions in classical music. the geometric metering would allow me to do this if there were individuals who wanted to know. i’ve talked about these root2art conventions elsewhere on this site, but most of them which i rely on to create are still and unrecorded. it might be an interesting experiment to see what others would produce working within this conventions and see also how they would be modified my new invention.
of course this is all a bit of a fantasy, the important thing is that the work looks like it has this level of meaning. i’m not saying i have achieved it, but its something i aspire to.
here is something i wrote to a friend today whilst talking about conventions in film:- “iâ€™m fascinated with pure forms in all genres. conventions, to me, are the natural crystallisation of what works given a certain set of conditions, refined and evolved by successive generations of creativity. i see a parallel with conventions in the arts to evolution in nature. like conversion in nature, where the same solutions evolves independently in different locations, (such as the certain types eye ball and chlorophyll) conventions in art can evolve independently in different cultures. iâ€™m keen, like yourself, to learn from these archetypes.”
a friend of mine Sipra Pimputkar asked me if i would design a logo for their yoga class. on this occasion the subject interests me so i had a bash although obviously my output is primarily abstract. the logo is not fully resolved yet, but it is close. this theme has been inside me for many years and i have tried on many occasions to bring it into the root2art language and failed. on this occasion the work grow by itself and it only took 20mins to get to what you see here. sometimes when asked to make something with a specific theme i work with greater freedom. may be this way it is more genuinely spontaneous.
i’m now looking forward to making some variations on this theme. i’ve thought for a long while that the image of a figure sitting in meditation is often perceived in the west as intrinsically Eastern. my own feeling is that it is simply intrinsically human. i’ve had the desire to produce an image of the mediator in a more western language – something that those in the west who find meaning in the image to feel as it if is home grown and not imported. one of my own particular interests in art has been studying how the aesthetics of Buddhism has morphed as it has been adopted by different cultures – somewhat like the ego-less monk who adapts seamlessly and effortlessly with his environment whatever it might be.
i’ve tweaked the original pattern below to allow greater freedom with color choice, but the essential tonal metering remains the same. these four patterns took just a few minutes to edit in the gizmo and together they produce quite a rich texture.
one of my ultimate goals with this project is to create tools that just about anyone can use to create beautiful new creations. the art will be in the design of these tools, but users will feel like it is coming from them. that’s my plan anyway, i don’t know if it is possible, but now i have plenty of users, i can in turn use them to test my ideas. together i think we can have a fair crack at developing quite a unique mode of art creation:)
i realised today that there is a simple way to enable uses to color edit just about all my output without killing the tonal structure. the tonal structure being my own primary concern and the key to my compositions. with my color pattern gizmo i’m experimenting giving users control over the coloration of some of my pattern designs. however colors can be arbitrary and thus uses also have control over the tonal structure of the patterns. this is good for simple patterns, but when it comes to editing more complex graphics where certain tonal relationships are critical to the graphic working visual, limitations need to be built into the gizmo. this actually makes for a much more satisfying color editing experience as it is far easier to create something that looks good.
See example of new pattern like the one above, but without the graduation. (the tonal metering is subtle but makes a big difference to the overall balance of the pattern. You’ll have to send it to the gizmo to fully appreciate the effect.
what this means for me, is that this technique enables me to integrate all my composition work into the color project and let users interact with it and apply to products.
You can now create an account and save patterns from the color editing Gizmo and also browse through the 100s of color tiles already made by my users. I’ve also built a shop where you can buy your pattern on a stretched canvas in a range of sizes.
I also got a rudimentary fabric ordering service where any pattern can be ordered as a continuous design on quality cotton fabrics. I am now building a more sophisticated utility to make ording and sizing of the pattern much easier.
I plan to extend the range of pattern types to about 50 over the coming year. I already have about 20 on my hard drive which are awaiting formatting for this project.
Since adding the library I became a little miffed to find not as many users are now using the Gizmo, most likely because they are finding what they want in the library instead of having to fashion a color scheme themselves. I will have to find some other way to entice people in to play with this tool. Believe me, its strangely satisfying to use.
The library is already seeing about a 1000 users a day and i haven’t done much optimisation.
I’ve built a SVG logo download site complete with svg to png converter so that users can conveniently create raster files to the exact size they require. One nice feature of this ‘Rasterizer’ which users a java module called batik, is that it doesn’t create an anti-alias border. The produced png logos sit on any color background without the need to crop a pixel from the edge. i think this combination of svg and batik has huge potential for graphic artists creating interactive vector graphic applications where the end product is a raster file. Such as, seamless background files, customised buttons, and personalized social network graphics. There seems to be a huge number of people searching for this kind of thing and a ready market ready to exploit for those designers who want to take leap of faith with SVG. I say this as there are still accessibility issues for SVG. Users of ie are required to download a plugin from adobe in order to view SVG content. This has been the thorn in the side of SVG developers for since its inception.
I should mention that both the latest versions of FireFox and opera now support svg without the need for a plug-in. If and when Microsoft will follow suit i have no idea.
After a bit of a struggle i finally have the background tile generator in my Color Pattern Gizmo’ working. Go ahead and have a play – its fun and free.
The canvases and fabrics will be on sale within a week… i hope.
This blog has been quite of late, mainly due to this project. Investing time in developing this application hopefully will generate me a bit of cash. However more importantly, this work will provide me with a new set of tools I will be able to apply in developing new forms of user/artist creation.
i don’t know when the official SVG logo variation will be chosen and released, but this is one of my own personal favorites.
however, my wive says it looks like a tv with an aerial on top. she has an uncanny knack of finding unwanted associations in my work. personally i don’t see it and on this occassion i’m putting it down to her dizzy random female logic.
these are some variations on a logo i made for a client that never got used. i was playing with them the other day and thought they deserved to be posted in my blog if nothing else. these are pretty cheerful logos and i like that. it would be a shame to store them away in my dark harddrive where they might become depressed.