Posted tagged ‘shapes’

Nja Mahdaoui

October 20, 2008

There is this feeling you get sometimes when you see/hear/watch something astounding and it gives you the shiver-me-timbers, as I like to call it. It’s a positive feeling in most cases and it’s like wow this is so amazing/funny/beautiful…or any other superlative you deem fit for the description.

Anyway so I received this giant book of one artist’s work when I attended the Word into Art Exhibition in Dubai. It was so heavy that the thought of carrying it on to the plane to Pakistan (where I headed on to next), keep it in good condition there and then carry it back to London via Dubai two weeks later, on the way back home was quite daunting. But the one reason I went through all that (and no it wasn’t because it was a well printed free book) was because the work of this artist gave me the shiver-me-timbers. Nja Mahdaoui is the name of the Tunisian born artist whose work I am now on about.

I can’t even attempt to describe the beauty of the work and obviously this is very subjective as it appeals to me in many ways and for various reasons. I will try and list these later but first let me show you the work. And because I like so much of it I am not going to limit the amount in this post – prepare yourselves!

All these images are from Mahdaoui’s official site: http://www.nja-mahdaoui.com/index.php

Canvas



Parchments

Airplanes

Yes you read correctly – one way of knowing you’ve made it as an artist is when you’re work is used on a series of airplanes! See this webpage for more images http://www.nja-mahdaoui.com/gb/avion1.php



And now I insist you look around the rest of Mahdaoui’s site to see how his work has been transferred to buildings; stained glass elements of which add a vibrancy to structures that can sometimes be, well, boring. His designs have also been incorporated onto dresses, and by the looks of it, many more mediums which we are promised will be displayed on the site “soon”. These include papyrus, jewellery and tapestries.

Oh yes. Why do I like these works? Here is a quick list which is by no means complete or fully explained:

Colours. Mainly black and white is used (my favourite combination for detailed works of these type). Other colours are from a select palette and mean that the work is consistent and have a sort of organised ruling to them. They also remind me of Piet Mondrian’s choice to use only primary colours in his work (more on him in a day or so).

Block type shapes. These can be especally noted from the contrast to the flowing calligraphy. These shapes are formed not only by the background colours or the flow of the text but also from the way they work as borders to new segments within the layout of the more geometric designs.

Empty space. This is used effectively. Amongst all the detail and condensed text there are some gaps that allow for the design to breath. They emphasise the parts that are filled with the lines of text (thick and thin) and also the different shapes created in the overall composition.

Straight edge and curves. This is great – I love the way the spiralling rose effect is centered within a rotated square in one. Again this is seen where there are circles within squares or overflowing of curves from the calliugraphy spilling onto a backdrop of straight and geometric edges/blocks of smaller concentrated text. Once again I think this contrast just helps to play one off against the other but to highlight the aesthetics of each and not to compete.

Calligraphy. This is a major form of illumination and decoration in Islamic art. An area I am hoping to explore later in my research. But for now I think the above examples really do a great job of showcasing the variety of designs and compositions possible in the art of Arabic Calligraphy which in the Islamic world has become reknowned. It is a fine art in itself and must be practised for years to be mastered.

Feel freel to comment on any aspects you feel should be mentioned that make these works good or perhaps not as good as you think they could be? I’d definately be interested to hear others’ opinions 🙂

Word into Art – Dubai 2008 (pt 1)

October 13, 2008

I was reminded of an exhibition I went to whilst in Dubai earlier this year. It was the Word into Art exhibition that had been on in the British Museum back in 2006. I was very glad to have been able to catch the one in Dubai and I was not disappointed when I got there.

I’ve shown some of the images below of the artworks that I found of interest and to my liking.

Kamal Boullata

Ana Al-Haqq - I am the Truth by Kamal Boullata

http://virtualgallery.birzeit.edu/media/photos/vw_115629/Kamal+Boulata+3?w=225

Nur ala nur by Kamal Boullata

http://virtualgallery.birzeit.edu/p/ps?url=exhibition/BMsacred/tour011

Read more on this piece here

I like the way the symmetrical layout and break down of larger square, with rotated smaller squares, has been combined with the kufic arabic calligraphy. The subject matter is the meaning of Nur – light in arabic. It is very symbolic and has many connotations in spirituality and religion – not just Islam but Christianity too.

A bit about the artist:

“Kamal Boullata :- PALESTINE
Born in Jerusalem in 1942. Works and lives in Washington, Morroco and Paris.
Boullata recalls sitting for hours on end as a small boy in front of the Dome of the Rock, engrossed in sketching its innumerable and unfathomable geometric patterns and calligraphic engravings. Those patterns he saw as a child still echo endlessly throughout his adult work. I keep reminding my self that Jerusalem is not behind me, it is constantly ahead of me. From an interview with the Artist”

http://www.daratalfunun.org/main/resourc/exhibit/bollata/bollata.html

Ahmed Moustafa

Moustafa uses traditional calligraphy to form the artwork and uses the old and classical decorative technique of repeating more text over the first layer but mirrored upside down. Therefore you are required to turn the work upside down in order to read the next line.

Where two oceans meet by Ahmed Moustafa

http://www.fenoon.com/portfolio/pages/0001p1.html

Sometimes the text is a mirrored version but flipped horizontally to add an almost mish mash type effect. The technique is used slightly differently below and looks particularly effective in this piece which produces a great symetrical design using the arabic names of Allah (God) – which represent his attributes as named in the holy Qur’an:

The attributes of divine perfection by Ahmed Moustafa

For more info on this piece click here: http://virtualgallery.birzeit.edu/p/ps?url=exhibition/BMsacred/tour008

Don Relyea – artist

October 11, 2008

I’ve just found this site a sort of online portfolio of work by Don Relyea. http://www.donrelyea.com/

Some of Relyea’s art projects focus on the use of a few basic geometric shapes. The combination of these shapes and the vibrant colours produces some interesting pieces. I really like them and think it is striking enough to make the viewer want to dismantle all the geometric components and examine them as individual parts.

The still image above is a view of what you would see once you have generated the design as the user (click the image to have a go). Relyea uses Shockwave applets to present his work. It is usually in the form of an interactive project and requires the user to take an initial action. For examle when the user clicks on the red blank box the design quickly starts printing itself from the top left corner all the way around the box in a clockwise spiralling motion until the whole box is covered with the pattern.

Relyea has variations of these pieces – some even allowing you to choose the combination of colours and the randomness of the generation of pattern. See the Space Filling Curve Art Generator

The technical background to his work is explained on his site. Here is an excerpt from the Artist Information page:

Relyea’s tools are script editing windows and compilers. Relyea’s schooling in traditional printmaking (under Lawrence Scholder) left him with a strong consideration for the process of image creation. Relyea loosely defines new digital processes by creating works manually first, he then transforms the processes into programming routines with parameters. The parameters can be dynamic data from the network, mathematical algorithms or number generators. The routines are repeated with parameter variations to generate designs of similar aesthetic quality.

I think I might try contacting him and ask him a few questions about his work and how much of it he considers to be influenced by the world of geometry. hmm wonder if he’ll reply – will keep you posted.

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.

Mirror mosaics

October 10, 2008

I was just doing a quick search to see what kind of artwork is produced by artists in the style or influences of Islamic art. One artist’s work I’ve just seen is Monir Farmanfarmaian

Hexagon - Monir Farmanfarmaian

If you look closely you’ll notice that there are small pieces of mirror that have been placed together to form cubes, which combined with the reflective properties of the materials used give the overall piece a unique effect emphasising the 3d aspect of the shapes formed. I’m quite taken by Farmanfarmaian’s other peices too. These can be viewed from this page: universes-in-universe.org – Monir Farmanfarmaian

Here’s another one I really like:

Cubes within cubes by Monir Farmanfarmaian

The tessellation of small mirror pieces works wonders in this peice. At some point I’d like to see how mirrors could be used to effect lighting, and how this in turn could effect someone’s perception of a space. Hmmm…a million ideas forming again and I can’t get them all down -one second they are there the next they are replaced by another!!! Oh well if they’re of any use then they’ll come back. Hopefully.

Geometry

September 25, 2008

Ok I know I said I would look into colour inversion some more but I just had too many thoughts, ideas and avenues that I also wanted to look into. They all relate to the use of shapes, space and composition in one way or another. The one at the forefront of all this is geometry and then closely behind this follows symmetry.

So…I think I will make categories of all the subjects/areas and then add to each whenever I come across something of relevance for each.

Now back to geometry. A quick definition from wikipedia:

Geometry (Greek γεωμετρία; geo = earth, metria = measure) is a part of mathematics concerned with questions of size, shape, and relative position of figures and with properties of space. Geometry is one of the oldest sciences. Initially a body of practical knowledge concerning lengths, areas, and volumes, in the third century B.C., geometry was put into an axiomatic form by Euclid, whose treatment – Euclidean geometry – set a standard for many centuries to follow. The field of astronomy, especially mapping the positions of the stars and planets on the celestial sphere, served as an important source of geometric problems during the next one and a half millennia.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geometry

Ok so we can see there are actually different types of geometry too – but we’ll have to come back to this later. Now for a definition from Dictionary.com:

–noun, plural ‑tries.

  1. the branch of mathematics that deals with the deduction of the properties, measurement, and relationships of points, lines, angles, and figures in space from their defining conditions by means of certain assumed properties of space.
  2. any specific system of this that operates in accordance with a specific set of assumptions: Euclidean geometry.
  3. the study of this branch of mathematics.
  4. a book on this study, esp. a textbook.
  5. the shape or form of a surface or solid.
  6. a design or arrangement of objects in simple rectilinear or curvilinear form.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/geometry

It seems to me there’s more involved in geometry than I originally thought. It’s not just about fitting shapes together to make them look pretty – Ok I knew there was some maths involved too, calculating angles – making sure that the outcome could be continued for eternity using tiling and rotated symmetry. So my next step is to look into this further. Find out where this study of lines, shapes, depths and space came from and why it links to astronomy and even spirituality! Looks like I’ve given myself even more homework to do!