Posted tagged ‘patterns’

Electronic circuits, Arduino and others

May 27, 2009

It must seem like I’ve been quiet recently but I have been doing stuff. ‘Stuff’ is probably the best word to use here because it is encompasses quite a varied group of ‘things’ as a description.

Here’s a break down of my recent activities:

Reading Digital Arts, by Christiane Paul: I was actually supposed to have done this at the start of the academic year as it was listed as ‘recommended reading’ but no one really does that right?

More Pattern making: some were failures – I started giving in and doing my own thing again but I pulled back and said ‘No Sara you must follow the rules’ so I went back to using my handy Islamic Design book and did some new patterns.

Remember doing this in school?

Remember doing this in school?

This one had potential but then I didn't like the way it was going

This one had potential but then I didn't like the way it was going

Another naughty pattern

Another naughty pattern

It’s always frustrating trying to get the lines, angles and circles in the right places but I persevered. Now I have some new patterns to work with to create some more laser cut panels. I want to do more complicated patterns to really experiment with light and shadow effects.

Back to following the rules

Back to following the rules

Underlying grid is easy to see in this image which looks quite interesting as a whole

Underlying grid is easy to see in this image which looks quite interesting as a whole

Hand cut pattern in black card

Hand cut pattern in black card

I’m pleased with this (above image) – even though it looks quite simple it took a while to get to that stage. The star shaped flowers are not accurate at all but I’ll be fixing that up when I make a digital version using Photoshop and Illustrator. I will probably add more detail to the larger shapes though, as I think details look better when enlarged with a light source on a wall – almost like a projection.Using this hand cut method allows me to get a rough idea of what the laser cut design will look like in mdf.

Visiting the Library: I rarely go to the library anymore. Not because I don’t like reading or even just looking at the pictures in books but because I prefer to have my own copies. That way I know I won’t find any unusual stains in between the pages, nor will I have to worry about returning it in time in order to avoid a fine. Anyway so back to the story at hand – I decided that forking out £26 for ‘Physical Computing’ by Dan O’Sullivan and Tom Igoe, was slightly beyond my current budget and it would make sense to just go and borrow it. So off I went to LCC and I’m glad to say no stains have been discovered as yet.

I’ll write a review on both books at some point.

Electronics/Arduino board workshop: Leon, a current Camberwell PhD student was doing this workshop for us last Wednesday (20th May). A brief overview of how it works was provided, as well as some useful links (http://www.arduino.cc/). I spent a good amount of time trying to familiarise myself with the different parts of the boards whilst putting together a set for infra-red detecion. Had to look up different types of resistors, transistors, and all those kinds of bits and bobs to make sure I was putting the right ones in the right places.

Arduino board image from arduino.cc

Arduino board image from http://www.arduino.cc

We then moved on to testing Isaac’s (fellow student: http://www.isaac.alg-a.org/) motor circuit which had a light sensitive resistor attached to it. This set was programmed to turn on an LED and start a motor faster or slower according to the light detected by it. The code looks quite similar to PHP and other complicated programming languages that I really need to start learning at some point. Or maybe I think they are complicated because getting to know it better is something I keep putting off and is almost my excuse for delaying the process?

Getting to know a circuit

Getting to know a circuit

My fear of learning this new but potentially hard stuff is not greater than my wanting to complete my project to a high standard.

With the good comes the bad

April 24, 2009

…ok maybe not always but sometimes and certainly in this case. We’ve had half the carpet put in the house now; this includes my room and the two loft rooms that we added a few months ago.

It means I can finally move my stuff from storage back into my room and stop living out of bags. The down side is that I actually liked living up in the loft with the sun shining through the skylights. It meant that I was able to work with natural light for longer and also because there was no carpet I could do as much spray painted canvas art as I liked without worrying where it might disperse.

laser cut mdf stencil

laser cut mdf stencil

Using the MDF stencil that I had laser cut from my pattern a few weeks ago (above), I’ve created a new canvas piece. It’s been a bit difficult to decide when the painting is finished because it has a layered effect and I could just keep going but there’s always a risk that the next layer might make it look less pleasing to me.

I’ve stopped it here – I received some good feedback from family and friends so far:

16x16 canvas

16x16 canvas

Canvas close-up

Canvas close-up

The painting has a sort of pastelly/chalky effect with the spraying having gone a bit blurry at the edges of the patterns but this also allowed for a gradient fade effect where I’ve got two colours merging. I added white beneath the blue as an outline shadow effect to make the blue standout more clearly against the green. I think the bright colours work well together here. Originally it was just white on green and it looked too stark. So then I added the blues and yellows and I think it looks much better like that.

So yeh now I’m in a bit of a pickle because I want to do more of these but other than doing it on the pavement outside my home (clearly not ideal) there aren’t many more options. At uni there are limited rooms and although I could use the old play-ground or parking area I wouldn’t want to ship all my things there – I would need a minivan! Even then it would be useless as I’m only ever in once a week and would be left doing tiny bits at a time.

Ergh…

Patterning

March 9, 2009

I’m really disappointed because I’ve realised that I won’t be able to get my proto-type finished in time for my mid-point review. I think it would have received a really good reaction from my peers.

But I don’t even have time to dwell on it and have cracked on with things so that I have something half decent to show.

The point of the mid-point review is for my peers and tutor to see where I am so far and as this is taking the form of a group crit (much like the one the full-timers had last month – see earlier post) it means that they need to try and understand what I present to them without me having to explain anything. But even if they completely misunderstand it help me development and amend where I’m going with the work so that I can head it in the right direction from then on.

As I’ve been exploring the traditional methods for producing Islamic geometric patterns (which is a new practice to me) I am quite proud of where I’ve got to so far – but will anyone else seeing it for the first time appreciate the result of my hard work? Also, would they need to have an interest in this area in the first place to then appreciate this type of art?

What will be most annoying is that these examples I will show are just on paper/card. And I wanted something digital and interactive at this stage. Honestly, it would have been way ahead of the game for me to have something ready at this point of the course that was a working prototype of an interactive work but it would have been cool because at least the rest of the students would understand where I was going with this. Anyway, I have faith that they will ‘think/look outside the box’, so to speak, in regards to my work – whether they like it or not.

In the above gallery are images of the stages I went through to get to the last piece which is a large hexagon broken down into further hexagons, triangles and circles to produce a geometric pattern.

You will notice that I go back and forth with the first grid designs and this is because I did soo many sheets, and at some stage or another I would realise that I had made a mistake and would need to start over. The grids or patterns wouldn’t look wrong and wouldn’t necessarily be wrong in themselves but I was trying to follow a particular strategy as laid out in an example from Daud Sutton’s book ‘Islamic Design: A Genius for Geometry’. I wanted to follow this to a ‘T’ up to a certain stage. So until I got to that stage – if everything wasn’t exactly like he’d shown then it would be wrong.

After producing the ‘grid’ and formations of hexagons within circles I then photocopied the sheets so that I could develop the patterns within the grid further. This was the stage where I would finish copying the book and start my own additions in patterns. If I ruined these photocopies I would still have the original larger grid to go back to. After deciding on the main hexagons (one large and one small) to break down further I then inked the designs on to another photocopy. I then photocopied this (yeh I know – there are trees out there waiting for revenge) so that I could cut out the main shapes within these bigger shapes. The handy thing about the cut-out template is that I can then put the shapes together on a large plain sheet of paper which has no grid and the hexagons fit together as they are already proportioned correctly, the grid would therefore be invisible.

I like the effect of light coming through these cut-outs. This is why I would love to experiment with light and how it could be used in an interactive way at some stage of my project.

This is where I moved on to the large A3 black card and started drawing out the very large hexagon made up of smaller hexagons and filled these in with the designs from the templates I had cut. Then after filling in all the parts I was left with the final design (below) which I am quite happy with – it looks much better in reality as the pencil shimmers with light and is a great contrast to the black card.

pencil on black card

Tonight I plan to turn this in to another template and have further uses for it – so watch this space 🙂

The very Grand Mosque in Muscat, Oman

March 8, 2009

I’ve been back a week now and I thought I would have been blogging straight away but alas I’ve been completely run off my feet. Admittedly the first couple of days after I came back from holiday I felt like I should give myself time to adjust from being all relaxed and lazy into being in a super productive mode. Who was I kidding – it was just a waste of my own time and now I am paying for it.

But going to Muscat was great for inspiration. The Grand Mosque was especially beautiful and abundant in colourful and varying examples of geometric patterns. The architecture had all the usual features of a major mosque: minarets, arches, courtyards and an ornate prayer hall. It was spacious and clean and even minimalist in a way (except for the prayer hall which appeared to be a grand showpiece of the local craftsmanship), for the majority being large blocks and shapes of white stone and marble. Whilst walking around I found alcoves and crevices where patterns decorated the space with colourful tiles or simple engravings and cut-outs. As we were there in the morning and the sun was shining in all its glory, the effect of the light, forming shadows, reflections and generally brightening the whole place up, seemed almost like a dream. I am so glad we faced the 30+ degree temperature to venture over that day.

For those visitors who were unfamiliar with this style of decor and the history and relevance of it, there were plaques with brief explanations of why the chosen styles were used (please see gallery).

I have to say I do enjoy photography even though I’m not that familiar with all the settings that can produce better images. With my own photos I think composition works best and I like to convey the different views of a building – how it looks completely different when looking from even a step away from the previous view.

Anyway, these patterns made me realise that I want my work to be focused on a contemporary take on the everlasting traditional geometric patterns used in the Islamic world. So I just need to produce my own ones through a different medium. Not too hard right? Actually, it’s very hard just trying to decide which medium to use. But for now, with less time on my hands than I had anticipated I’m going to concentrate on making some pretty patterns of my own. Which means I need to go back to practising the traditional method I failed to complete last month.

To infinity and beyond

January 25, 2009

In response to my previous post I would like to quote a section from page 6 of Daud Sutton’s book ‘Islamic Design – A Genius for Geometry’ (yes, I found the book!!) which addresses the subject of infinity as represented in Islamic patterns:

“Conceptually a repeating pattern can continue forever, but in practical applications Islamic patterns are generally cropped to form rectangular sections with corners in the centre of key pieces, often stars. Framing a pattern this way maintains a geometric elegance at the same time is clearly implying that it could repeat indefinitely, as it were, under it’s borders – the perfect visual solution to calling to mind the idea of infinity, and hence the Infinite, without any pretence of being able to truly capture such an enigmatic concept visually.

This framing also usually gives a single central piece which ensures that the total number in the rectangle is odd – a numerical quality traditionally said to invoke, and find favour with, Divine Unity.”

Well I have to say that makes sense to me. But I have a feeling there may be differing views on this so will have to look into it further.

Another idea

January 16, 2009

I’ve been thinking about how I can take my experimentation and pattern-making to the next level. I have my mid-point review coming up in March and need to start making some significant progress otherwise I won’t be making the most of it. Plus the way I see it, the more work I do now the more I can develop my ideas and learn from my mistakes and early prototyping which should then lead to something much stronger at the end.

In the next few weeks I’m planning to make a small interactive installation which basically consists of a circuit of lights (LEDs) on a grid where the user can switch them on and off to then produce a pattern. The control of the lights would be through another grid of buttons that correspond with the lights on the other board. Each button would control the corresponding lights – turning them on or off.

I was trying to imagine how the user would react to this piece. Would they know what to do with the buttons/lights? Or would they need to be told. Then I realised that the user is not going to have a clue what this grid of lights is and will just start playing with it. What if they create any type of image out of the lights, random doodles, shapes, anything? Why would they assume it had anything to do with patterns? And how would I restrict their use of the device and therefore make it related to my actual subject of Islamic patterns?

Well, whilst discussing the practicalities of making the piece with Kenji (full time student) who knows a bit about electronics, I realised there was a way to not only restrict the user from doing something completely of their own accord, but also make them aware of some characteristics that make up an Islamic pattern. I don’t want to give the game away just yet though as I want my fellow students to figure it out for themselves when it comes to the mid-point review. I’m hoping to have this ready by then.

I’m really looking forward to this! Let’s just hope that it actually works when the time comes!

Eye of the Tiger

January 11, 2009

I hope my titles are not misleading people to view my posts for the wrong reasons lol – I just like to make them a little interesting.

Ok so Mission started and partly accomplished. I said I wouldn’t post anything until I had created some patterns and well I can’t say I finished a whole pattern but I spent at least a couple hours just doing the base work for one.

I’m quite surprised that it took as long as it did actually – just to create the grid. I took photos using my mobile (my proper camera is somewhere in a box, somewhere in my dishevelled house) so they’re not that great but the aim was to document the process.

The bare necessities

The bare necessities

Ok so I was using large (A3) squared paper so that I would be able to keep my straight lines accurate.
I used 5cm as my radius and started drawing circles from the centre of the page outwards. This method has been demonstrated in Islamic Design: A Genius for Geometry by Daud Sutton, and is supposed to be the traditional approach to creating Islamic geometric patterns. If you’ve read my Project justification then you’ll know why this is important to me. As it isn’t my usual method I thought I’d give it a go and see where it takes me.

Ok so the circles start overlapping as seen below:

circles overlapping but spreading too

circles overlapping but spreading too

I then carried on until I had filled the whole page with the circles:

picture-033

As you can see this has created a tessellated effect simply with the construction of circles. After this I wasn’t quite sure what I needed to do next. I misplaced my book 😦 and so I played it by ear – well tried to remember what I had read in the book anyway. As I’ve said before I havn’t got access to my stuff.

So then I started connecting the mid points of each circle – creating horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines – a sub grid.

This produced another set of shapes on the sub grid of lines not just the circles. I’m not sure that the vertical lines were correct but it looked ok so I carried on:

Adding lines

Adding lines

I looked closely at the page (which was a bit mesmerising) and picked out shapes that I liked the look of. I usually do this in the creation of my pattern work. Breaking down shapes using lines and particular measurements and then seeing what new shapes are created. In the close up below you can see some of these smaller shapes within shapes which were created simply by the addition of the straight lines. I would now need to consider which shapes I would choose to highlight and use in the pattern and which ones would perhaps form a subtle background to the main pattern.

The shapes!

The shapes

Ok so I think this process was useful. The main thing that I found difficult was the accuracy! Even though I made sure the compass stayed at the same radius throughout, and that the connecting lines and dots and movement from one circle to another was the right place, there were still wider spaces between shapes than there should have been. The most annoying thing I found was the compass kept slipping!!! this was highly irritating and meant I had to rub out bits here and there.

But it’s been a learning process and I need to do this a lot more so I know how to neaten up my grids and start doing different kinds of patterns. I am really looking forward to the next stages of these experiments.

Now I really need to find that book!!

Reprimand

January 4, 2009

I’ve had 3 weeks off from uni and most of my fellow students (from what I hear) have been using this time well – it’s had the opposite affect on me. I said to myself I would do loads of research and practical work in those three weeks. But no, I have done nothing!

I do actually have a good excuse – we’ve had builders in the house for the last two months and yes they are still here and all my stuff is in boxes or bags and nothing is easily accessible except for my laptop and food of course. That excuse aside I could have done loads of online research instead. So I’m not going to let myself off.

I started 3 new posts and they are still in draft mode. One was about Arabic Calligraphy – but a brief explanation of this is not enough and so I started doing deeper research and now I’m not sure where to cut it off.

Another post was supposed to be a general overview of what Islamic Art is – a sort of definition and redefinition. Personally I don’t think Islamic Art is perceived as it should be. This post wasn’t finished due to the fact that I once again couldn’t make it a brief or even remotely healthy sized and decided that before I could start on such a heavy topic I’d have to explain the general perception first and then my own in probably two separate posts.

The third post was just a random rant about how one of my ideas for creating a lampshade (with laser cut patterns) isn’t original at all (visit to B&Q very much confirmed this). I decided not to post this even though it was quite finished – because I later felt it sounded lame. I’m still in two minds about it. Is any idea ever original? (Giant debate opens up with the post flooded with opposing views) – Hence better to leave it be?

I think I need to set short term goals for myself. My next step is to do some more experimental patterns using the traditional compass and straight edge (circles around circles grid) approach. I won’t let myself do another post until that is done and that post has to show what I’ve done so far. If I break this pledge to myself someone better tell me off.

Sample work 2

December 10, 2008

Please click on the thumbnails to view larger images and to read a further description of each:

Zero to Infinity – connections are made

November 24, 2008

I was invited, by a friend, to attend the Zero to Infinity event at the Dana Centre South Kensington (Thursday 20th November 2008).

A quick look at the panellists and the topic for discussion sparked some interest with me. These panellists included:

Paul Prudence, generative artist
Eleanor Robson, historian of mathematics, University of Cambridge
Marcus du Sautoy, mathematician, University of Oxford
Jane Wess, curator, Science Museum
Facilitator: Rachel Thomas, Editor, Plus magazine

Panellists

From this list of names only one stood out to me and that was Marcus du Sautoy. I had recently viewed his documentary “The Story of MathsThe Language of the Universe” on the BBC (thanks for telling me about it Simon) and thought he was great at explaining math related theories in a friendly and an easy to understand way.

The four very different backgrounds of the panellists was great as it provided different views on the same subject. It was clear that different uses of the mathematical theories relating to infinite numbers, the idea of multiple infinities and whether the number zero is something real or abstract can allow for connections in different areas of practice and study.

Midway through the talk we were split into two groups to participate in a short workshop first off with Marcus du Sautoy. This was a brilliant and practical demonstration to help us understand how one infinity could be larger than another. Ok there were many things floating about such as how fractions and decimal numbers could be used to check against whole number and negative numbers and this was delving into scary territory for me – maths not being my forte. So these further explorations into different types of numbers, rational and irrational, and the stark statement from Du Sautoy that there are different types of mathematics just completely lost me. At one point I had to just accept that there are many possibilities out there in the universe numbers and mathematics are perceived and manipulated to prove various theories using various methods.

Even then, Du Sautoy’s enthusiasm made the workshop enjoyable. Even though there were, well lets say, some brains participating too who were determined to prove something by asking questions that could only really lead to a debate that the rest of us wouldn’t be able to keep up with, it was quite funny to see that not everyone had the same views. And I’m pretty sure one man was actually flirting with him and using his mathematical knowledge to impress him!

Anyway so the next workshop was more of a historical look at how the number zero came into existence and its early use by the ancient Babylonians who kept records of how many different types of cattle were collected and received for the king. This part of the workshop was overseen by Eleanor Robson of Cambridge University. She explained that the Babylonians used to make marks representing different numbers on chunks of clay. This allowed for the accounts to be preserved for thousands of years. An empty space basically represented a zero. Of course their idea of the number zero was used merely for counting that something was not there but not in the same way it is now used for example for negative numbers and calculations of the abstract kind.

Twelve German Jetons - The Science Museum

We also looked at some of the shapes included in a mid 17th century wooden learning box – based on the teachings and principles of Euclid’s geometry. These were original items from the Science Museum’s collection and explained to us by curator Jane Wess. The collection included abacuses from China, Japan and the West where the base numbers for counting were all different.

Euclid's geometry - wooden box of shapes from 17th century Abacuses

Having reached the last part of the evening we heard from Paul Prudence; a generative artist and Video Jockey (VJ) whose work was displayed on the screen in the room. The display was of moving tesselated digital imagery. These images were based on geometric forms relating to the theories we had been hearing about earlier in the evening and in the workshops.

View a video of his work here: http://www.transphormetic.com/2_talysis2/talysis01.htm>/a>

Fast Fourier Radials - A spectrographic visualisation of sound

http://www.transphormetic.com/12_FFradial/pics/02.jpg
Fast Fourier Radials

I was in awe. He had succeeded in creating digital work based on geometric shapes and from this were produced beautiful patterns. So obviously all of this started ringing bells in my head. I was thinking to myself ‘I need to ask this guy some questions and find out what processes he is involved in, what software, which techiniques, etc etc’. I was very curious. So I waited till most people had started dispersing after the talk and told him about the MA and why his work was of particular interest to me in relation to my project. He gave me some of his business cards and encouraged me to take as many as I wanted, as he had so many and each had a different image on the back (stills from his work). They were really cool so I took six 🙂

Talysis 2

http://www.transphormetic.com/2_talysis2/talysis05.htm
Talysis 2

I found a lot more information about Prudence’s work and recent project history on his website: http://www.transphormetic.com/

And I don’t think I could be any more amazed and slightly jealous. He uses Flash and ActionScript to write programs which then produce the patterns and some of them in real time!!! The use of algorithms and mathematics (written into the ActionScript) means that numbers can be used to produce 3d effects of shapes within certain spaces. These have boundaries in which the pattern might become curved along the outer curve of a sphere or within the inner curve and so producing both a convex and concave look with the shapes getting smaller or larger as they move along, further toward or away from the x axis. Ok I’m not sure if I explained this the right way.

Heres what he’s got in the biography section of his site which pretty much sums up his skills quite impressively:

Artist and real-time visual performer working with computational and visual feedback systems and video. Uses VVVV, Flash & processed Digital Video. Lecturer on visual music and syneasthetic art.

Researcher and writer at Dataisnature.

Freelance Interaction Designer and ActionScript Developer. Authoring chapters in a few books relating to computational design with Actionscript.

http://www.transphormetic.com/bio.htm

I’m glad to see a clear example of how a contemporary approach using the latest in technology and programming skills can be made the most of in order to produce something that connects all the ideas that are bought to light in the subject of geometry, shapes, and space (more specifically numbers and their connection to the theories of science and physics of the universe). I mentioned in an earlier post that it was hard to make the connections between the different subject areas as they could become very diverse and branch off into their own projects all together. But this is a great example to show that it is possible to make those connections apparent in one piece.

I feel inspired and have a positive feeling about achieving something great, as a result of this project. God willing 🙂