Geometric Meter: A Visual Parallel To Structure In Music
Themes And Variations
Conceptualize your next visual masterpiece with a graphic design training.
I liken this system to the structural conventions evolved and adhered to in musical composition. These conventions limit, define and order an abstract sound world into the stuff of musical language. As with some musical language my visual language is shaped by the concerns of harmony, dynamics, rhythm, lyricism and counterpoint. I find music, and musical terminology an invaluable resource in describing my work and in finding tangible ideas for invention within geometric art.
J. S. Bach is my biggest inspiration and resource. In many ways I have sort to find a visual equivalent to the metered structures in baroque music within this work. I often think about the use of harmonic scales, tempo, harmonies, canons and so on in forming the formal structures of informal expressions. I believed parallel conventions could be found using geometry within a plane of visual composition. Combining and varying the geometric equivalents to these musical stuctures has produced the level of variety and complexity I employ in my work today.
Conceptual Gemetric Art
Methaphysics of Few and Many
Plato described geometry as the purest philosophical language. My own experience of using geometry would also indicate that it is a powerful tool for exploring abstract thought. To me, the type of simple geometry I employ is like a very primitive language, and can be learnt and articulated intuitively. I’ve found on many occasions whilst developing new studies that I’ve known certain relationships exist before I can produce the drawings or maths to prove it.
Because the form of geometry I use is so elementary, the relationships and ideas it can express can also be elementary. I feel geometry can give form to concepts that do not readily have a powerful translation in words. This does not mean that geometry is a more powerful language than words. If this was the case, it would be our principle means of communication. Maybe however, working with and simply looking at geometry can possibly extend our range and mode of thinking.
The Geometry Of Zero And Infinity
I entered the piece above into a digital art competition with the theme of ’borders’
This is the what I entered into the concept section of the application.
Borders: line dividing two areas.
Exploring this theme in my own geometric, abstracted, Zen-like language means two things for me:-
1.Literal visual borders. Exploring the variety of possible borders within the visual language I am using. For Example: borders between light and dark, large and small, activity and non-activity, inside and outside, bold and subtle, and so on. The borders themselves can be explored in terms of, soft and hard, strong and weak, straight and curved, and so on.
For me, this measured, knowable and limited manifestation of borders serves as a essential contrast and complimentary backdrop to the sought after conceptual expression in this work.
2. Conceptual borders that cannot be shown or known. All things could be construed as having borders. Thus to explore ‘borders’ without being limited to literal examples like those above is to venture into quite metaphysical territory. This at least, is the angle from which I typically will approach a subject in my work. So the question for me as an artist with my eccentric quasi-metaphysical bent, is ‘how do I visually represent and express the border that contains all borders?’
From a mathematics point of view, anything that borders with absolute nothingness, relatively speaking has infinite magnitude. (x/0=infinity) Thus, that which borders nothing contains all borders and all things. From Zen we have: All Form Is Void: All Void Is Form.
That’s nice, but how do we show this as a logical visual representation? One way I have explored over the years is by using the humble circle as a visual analogy for a thing or value or a number or thought. The circle in this instance can represent the ‘idea of the border’, the radius of which representing its relative magnitude. Now, a circle can be visually represented as having zero radius as a coordinate, and at the other end of the scale, a part of a circle with infinite radius can be visually represented as a straight line. This then allows me to create a complete finite progression representing ‘all circles’, or using the analogy, ‘all borders’. This progression can been seen in my picture in the top left corner.
Along the vertical edge of the triangle we see the words: ‘All In One’. Within the progression all knowable borders intersect with this edge. Here comes Logical Paradox #1: if we actually dissected this edge an infinite number of times with all knowable borders we would find the difference in magnitude between each neighbouring border would be zero. The logic follows that the sum of these differences equals zero implying infinity and zero are the same. (All Form Is Void).
Along the top horizontal edge of the triangle we see the words: ‘One In All’. In the progression this edge is the segment of our circle of infinite radius, (our border containing all borders). Here comes Logical Paradox #2: if this edge is a segment from an infinite circle then its length relative to the circumference of the circle is zero. (1/infinity=0). (All Void Is Form).
So to complete the progression, the sides of the triangle extend round to form a circle, representing the implied logic that both horizontal and vertical sides of the progression triangle represent the same thing. The outer black border in this picture thus contains the metaphysical, conceptual and unknowable aspect of the subject. The inner patterned area represents the real world manifestation of the subject. A simple pattern for me is a good visual analogy for the rich complexity of life. Even a fractal looses its infinite nature as soon as it is rendered in a picture, so rather try and actually render infinite complexity, I use this simple analogy and hopefully maintain the integrity of my artistic language.
At the centre of the work is my ‘Empty Flowers In Space’ motif. These two flowers are intrinsically one. They/it represents the illusion of the world of relativity. The large and the small, as we see in the outer ring are not two. The flower/s sits in the same space as the outer white emptiness. Again inside and outside are not two. The arrow represents realisation. It points down and not up because the realisation that we are a part of all things and all things are a part of us, (all in one: one in all) is a profoundly humbling experience. It is not a lofty perception through which we view life, but a grounded experience that we are undivided from all things. (If only this is realised: then no more worry about being perfect)
Sorry, if this was too many words, but I find the only way to compress all this stuff into a single clear expression is to make a picture. I hope you agree.
Repetition In Contemporary Art
Spotty and Stripy Abundunce
Opium - Damien Hirst, 2000
Damien Hirst developed the knack for dots. I’ve black and white’d some of his dots here, which changes their character somewhat, but even tonally, he’s managed to distribute the dots quite well. He gets $$$ per dot whilst my dots are effectively worthless. I quite like this piece, although probably not enough to buy it.
ROOT2ART Damienesk: My dots are like sprouted beans. I see the black bits like sprouts joining two independent beans. Could this be visual super-food? My bean spouts certainly look more aesthetically nutritious than Damien's dots, which I suspect contain e-numbers. You will know what I mean if you’ve seen the original. They look like sweets!
Arrest 1 - Bridget Riley, 1965
Bridget Riley is good at doing stripes. Even the queen likes her work. Maybe stripes are seen as being intrinsically modern and something to be seen with.
ROOT2ART Rileyesk: I don’t do stripes but if I did I’d do them something like this. Not exactly a hardcore linear eye bender, but it’s as close as I can bring myself making some real good'ens. I guess I just don't have the propensity for them. That and the fact they have already been done to death.
Anyone for checkers?
Earlier I jokingly said I didn’t ‘do’ stripes. I didn’t used to ‘do’ grids either. Well in 2007 I’ve been exploring areas of mathematics that might provide new material for my art. What I’ve looked at so far has thrown up these visuals based on grids. I’m not sure yet how rich these new veins of work will prove to be. I still feel I have yet to find the magic ingredient with these new investigations.
Inspiring Themes Of Repetition
The sort of things I look to find ideas for my art
St. Peter's - Rome, designed by Michelangelo
North Rose Widow - Notre Dame
Chain Saw Disc
The Registan - Samarkand, Uzbekistan,
Laurentian Library - Florence, Italy - designed by Michelangelo
Skeletal Recliner – I designed and build this chair in 1993 as A-level project.