Posted tagged ‘science’

July so far

July 22, 2009

A very busy July so far. I am knackered. And not all that time was spent on academic or creative work. Some has been on social events/occasions but some has been preliminary research for my essay. Here’s a break down of what’s been happening:

I attended an open evening (3rd July) at the British Museum for the Birkbeck World Arts and Artefacts depertment in conjunction with the Centre for Anthropology. I went mostly to meet my old Islamic art and architecture (short course) teacher, Roberta Marin, have a chat with her, get tips for my current research and to find out what other courses are on offer for next year.

Roberta advised me to take a look at current auction house catalogues, such as Sothebys and Christies, who do auctions on Islamic Art every now and then. She also mentioned a UAE glossy magazine called ‘Canvas’: http://www.canvasonline.com/ that focuses on modern and contemporary Middle Eastern Art. I’ve had a look at their web site and so far the content looks quite promising. Now I just need to get a hold of some back issues.

At the same open evening was Richard Henry who teaches the short course “The Art of Islamic Pattern I: An Introduction” with Birkbeck. He is also a practitioner of Islamic Art, especially geometric patterns and has applied his skills to different materials such as tiles, sculptures and even woodwork. Examples of his work can be seen here: http://www.richardhenry.info/ A significant thing to note is that Richard was taught by Keith Critchlow who is the author of ‘Order in Space’, ‘Islamic Pattern as a Cosmological Art’, and ‘Time Stands Still’, and is well known to many as a leading expert on sacred architecture and geometry.

I would love to take the classes in Islamic Pattern making but missed this year’s set (which I had been considering but it overlapped with the Calligraphy course I was already taking) and the next lot will not begin until April 2010 which will be a very busy time for me, as I will have to complete the major parts of my project by this time next year.

I came away from the open evening feeling that it was well worth going, firstly for being able to see Roberta again after nearly a whole year, and secondly for having the opportunity to speak to Richard.

The next day I wanted to catch the last day of the Royal Society of Science Summer Exhibition. I took my younger sister (Habibah) as I promised to spend time with her too (she gets bored very easily and likes to go out and about) and she isn’t very merciful when it comes to breaking promises made to her. So we rushed there after my Qur’an class and we made it just in time. We had about half an hour to look around as it was closing at 5pm (a little early if you ask me). We headed straight for the stands that were the brightest, interactive and that had freebies 🙂

There were demonstrations of friction defying chemicals that allowed water to repel off the surface without being absorbed (e.g paper) and there were card tricks illustrating how the human eye can be deceived when seeing shapes in different forms. And then there was the real reason I went – the ‘How Shapes fill space’ stand which was all about symmetrical structures, shapes, penrose tiling (patterns that never repeat even though they look like they might) and hyperdimensions (which I mentioned in one of my very early posts on this blog and I didn’t realise how significant they were at the time).

The ‘How shapes fill space’ exhibitors site can be visited here: http://www.tilings.org.uk/shapes/. The funny thing was that Richard Henry was here too. His explanation on 4th (and consequently higher) dimensions certainly helped me grasp a better understanding of the concept of hyperdimensions. There were a scattering of 3d models that looked like something from a meccano set and also a 3d animated shape that could be moved virtually 360 degrees to see all corners, and sides.

This stand was one of the better ones. There were also small sets of tiles for kids to play with and they were encouraged to try their hand at putting together pieces like a puzzle. Habibah certainly enjoyed it:

How shapes fill space - at the Royal Society of Science Exhibition

How shapes fill space - at the Royal Society of Science Exhibition

Practical examples of penrose tiling

Practical examples of penrose tiling

In our last few minutes, when staff members started booting people politely but firmly out, we managed to get in to the last showing of a 3D movie about the universe expanding. We learnt that seeing into the furthest regions of the universe is like looking back in time because even though light travels soo fast, the distance is so far that we’re seeing stars that have already died. It also discussed the Big Bang Theory (something that is interesting but also seen from a different light for me because of the conflicts with religion – but thats a discussion for another blog). The graphics were very good and we enjoyed this.

The people behind each stand were mostly well informed and were of academic and institutional backgrounds and many well known universities from around London were also present.

We filled in a survey – I had a couple of points to make about the opening hours – and decided to go for a bit of a walk as it was such a lovely day. Right outside was an ice-cream van so we had to indulge. We then took a walk towards the Queen’s guard’s barracks or some such thing near Pall Mall. It was a great view with old traditional English architecture gracing the skyline with the very modern looking London Eye looming behind. Here’s one of the photos I took with my mobile (I like how the gradient came out):

Heart of London - eye et al

Heart of London - eye et al

There have also been a couple of social events such as my very good friend’s hen-do and wedding, and then a family friend’s wedding, and new born babies to visit and re-unions with old family friends, and then last but by far not the least – the private view of the MA Visual Arts Degree Show at Camberwell!

I almost forgot about this amongst all the craziness. Simon kindly reminded me and so I ventured over after work (tired as I was) and was glad I went. Nearly half the people on my bus got off at the same stop as me and looked like they were heading the same way. I rushed off ahead not wanting to get caught behind slower walkers 😉

The presentation of work was great. Having seen the space and the prep needed beforehand made it even more remarkable to see the finished product. Students also made the effort to dress up which gave a professional look to the event as a whole. And we got the chance to mingle with fellow students we hadn’t had the time or the chance to speak to before. I even discovered rooms on the upper floors that I never knew existed!

The work was of a great quality and I was impressed with the outcomes of a lot of the projects – including from students of other pathways such as Graphic Design, Drawing, Book Arts and Illustration.

Here are a few photos I took of the show (on quieter days):

Poster seen on entering basement - with a map of artists space

Poster seen on entering basement - with a map of artists space

Susana Anagua's Ir(reversible Systems)

Susana Anagua's Ir(reversible Systems)

The projected video can be seen on Susana’s blog with more images too: http://anagua.wordpress.com/

Wei Wen's - Chinese Calligraphy piece

Wei Wen's - Chinese Calligraphy piece

The video that was projected on to the open book above can be viewed on Wei’s blog here: http://zulovelife.wordpress.com/

Kenji Ko's 040908/040909

Kenji Ko's 040908/040909

See and read up on the background of Kenji’s project here: http://kenjiko.wordpress.com/

Simon Ball's - On Getting Lost in the City

Simon Ball's - On Getting Lost in the City

Simon Ball's - On Getting Lost in the City (head on view of wall)

Simon Ball's - On Getting Lost in the City (head on view of wall)

More can be seen and read of Simon’s piece on his blog: http://simonthebold.wordpress.com/

Have a seat. Zai Tang's Sonorous City

Have a seat. Zai Tang's Sonorous City

Isaac seated and all ears whilst experiencing Zai Tang's Sonorous City

Isaac seated and all ears whilst experiencing Zai Tang's Sonorous City

Read and see more on Zai’s blog: http://zaitang.wordpress.com/

The rest of my images came out really blurry so you’ll have to visit the MA Digital Arts web site to see more student work: http://mada2009.madigitalarts.co.uk/

The next two days I was down for the AM shift of invigilating. The time flew fast and I got to know Ayhan Oensal (http://log.oensal.net/), an online student who was exhibiting in the show and also invigilating. His work is about raising awareness of HIV/Aids and is done so through a short video which has a narrative open for interpretation.

I will miss the students that have now finished the course. They were a great lot to be amongst with good knowledge of their various fields of expertise/practise. The added varying senses of humour and the general good company they provided resulting in the year passing very fast was a very positive aspect of being at Camberwell. I hope the next academic year goes just as well or even better!

Identifying a line of inquiry – which one?

October 11, 2008

On my way to uni on Wednesday I decided that maybe it would be a good idea to formulate my ideas and project aims and objectives as best I could. I started writing notes most of the journey and, as it had been about a week since I had fully concentrated on summing up my project in such a way, I think it helped to make it more structured in my head. I was able to sum up the links a bit better than before. This is what I came up with in relation to the two key words ‘Shapes’ and ‘Space’ being components of a possible working title:

The first two words are key as they sum up the elements that the areas of research I will be looking at are anchored by. In other words you can always relate the subject areas, I am interested in, back to one of these words if not both.

We usually think of shapes as pre-defined areas of outlined space that have specific names. We’ll grow up knowing that these named shapes have properties that allow the shapes to be classed within certain gropus of shapes too. So a square is made of of 4 right angles at each corner and 4 sides. A triangle with three sides and of various angles and combinations of these.

But can a shape alway be defined? And should it be defined? And how about those shapes which have properties or characteristics that are overlooked? And which characteristics should we look more closely at because they’ve been overlooked in the past?

The second key word is space. My use of the word implies many senses of space including the mathematical and the scientific (these I believe overlap in some sense), as well as the physical, perceptual and conceptual. I cannot restrict my meaning at this point. I have no reason to restrict until I have conducted more research and found a reason to do so.

What about white space? Is it real? Does it mean something to everyone? What is it’s role? Is it intentional? Should it be identified in more places?

An area of study that connects to this idea of space around shapes (and here I wonder – is this space not then a shape too?) is that of Geometry. These shapes are formed from vertices (easier to think of as dots in an invisible grid of any size). These vertices may then be connected with a line from one to another. these lines will be joint in such a way to form a shape. Various shapes are then placed together to form a larger formation. They could arguably be described as a system of shapes. This system could be called a pattern. these patterns can then become quite complex and due to their placement, repetition and possibly the ability to tesselate them – they can be endless and seem to go on for infinity.

One of my biggest aims in my project is to look into the history of Geometry – how it was developed and how it has been used over the centuries (more specifically in art work).

Then there is the branching off of Geometry in nature. I think this is a highly important and interesting subject to delve into. Not only because it entails many mysteries and brings into question the secrets of the Universe. But also because there is a tie with religion and sprirituality which is something that I can relate to on a personal level. Believing in God means that when I see the beauty of nature and proofs of perfection in nature (such as the way the body works and the structures and symmetry in plants and flowers to name a couple) I link it to Divine Creation. This is another aspect I would like to look into further. Especially as belief in this isn’t restricted to just one religion.

Geometry allows for the representation of space in 2d, 3d and even 4d and beyond:

Science.ca - Donald (H. S. M.) Coxeter, Pure and Applied Mathematics

4. Hypercube: If you pull a cube into the fourth dimension you get a hypercube. Eight cubes make a hypercube. The figure you see here cannot exist in the real world, which only has three-dimensional space. It is a projection of a four-dimensional object onto two dimensions, just as the cube before it is a projection from three-dimensional space to the two-dimensional flat surface of the paper.

5. Regular polytope: If you keep pulling the hypercube into higher and higher dimensions you get a polytope. Coxeter is famous for his work on regular polytopes. When they involve coordinates made of complex numbers they are called complex polytopes.

http://www.science.ca/scientists/scientistprofile.php?pID=5&pg=1

These main topics then branch off into other areas but are still anchored by the main theme of shapes, space and I guess now geometry too. By always having my main question along the lines of ‘ the place of geometry in the world around us’ I will have something to refer back to. Is that what I am looking at? Am I any closer to finding the answer? Am I looking into something that is relevant or have a veered off too far down a small cobbled street?

Outcomes for project: My background has been predominantly in expressing some form of communication and his has been mostly interactive. I would like to continue this by producing work that compels the user/viewer to become involved with it. I believe that the most interactively creative works are those that captivate the viewer and involve them within a process. This can be in many forms such as when using sensors to trigger some kind of behaviour or change in the work (lighting, sounds etc). This could be on an abstract level too where triggering thoughts and movements in people and influencing these is enough of a form of interaction. Only that this can be more difficult to measure.

However, my interpretation of an interactive work would be using multimedia as a possible option. My work has always been either viewable of a computer screen (short video clips), graphics, websites. Or viewable on some form of small physical and traditional media such as paper or canvas. I would really like to create some sort of installation to take my experience and work to the next level or beyond for this project. This installation would be my blank slate. Possibly like a box or container that allows a person to fully submerge themselves within it – literally or mentally. The key is for it to be thought provoking. I would want the person to question their surroundings, the purpose of the installation and investigate it too. Possibly manipulate their thoughts by pre-determining the factors the could influence their senses and perceptions related to the space around them.

And that is the end of my notes from my journey to Uni. Yes I am one of those people who can write loads of notes whilst travelling on the tube/bus/camel 🙂

We had a sort of informal feedback session after one of the Critical Framework lecture where we were required to write in one sentence what our project was about. I knew it would be a bit crazy to even attempt this so I decided to use the key words to form almost a sentence. I came up with ‘Shapes and space – the place of these and geometry in the world around us’ using my notes from the journey in. It could be the closest I’ve got to a working title yet so I just let that be discussed in the group.

After some discussion with Andy (course leader) and some feedback and questions from fellow students it would seem that perhaps I should narrow my field of research down a tad bit so that I can concentrate on finding the niche in which my project would excel. Something no one else is questioning, expressing or even addressing. Or maybe they will have but I’ll be doing it from a different angle? a unique p.o.v?

Only time will tell.