Posted tagged ‘symmetry’


March 5, 2010

I’ve been experimenting using some good old reflective card to create 3D shapes that could mirror well as collective components to a larger shape.

I started off with just the outer shell and got a bit carried away with this initial shape and how it worked with my reflective pattern sheet:

This is a head-on view looking into the pyramid shell, the inside is reflective the outside just white

This is the pyramid before adding the back panel. The pattern is mirrored in interesting ways. The top bit looks like a scary eye!

Pyramid - top, angled view. Placement of the top of the triangle means the pattern is better tessellated and therefore works better in creating an infinite pattern within the pyramid

Invisible pyramid - reflective panel added to outer wall

This one is my favourite because with the addition of the outer reflectivity an illusion is created whereby only the edges of the 3D shape is visible. The rest of the shape looks like it’s semi-transparent and showing the underlying pattern when it is actually a reflection of the pattern around all sides including the inside. I really like this aspect and would love to play around with it some more if I get the time.

Moving on, I started making smaller pyramids to fit inside the large shell to try and recreate a tesselated look without a 2D pattern.  Here’s how I constructed it:

Construction process for reflective pyramids structure

And here’s a better view of the final structure – a sort of open-ended pyramid filled with smaller pyramids which were also open-ended:


It’s nothing major and only a small tester model but on a large-scale I think it could look really good. I noticed that with there being gaps between some of the edges it wasn’t such a bad thing as it allowed light to come in through the back and illuminate the inner space and so allowing the reflections,  symmetry and geometry to show more clearly. It’s especially nice to look closely as if being enclosed by the reflected walls and getting an impression you could be encompassed by this structure. If it was life-size, sitting inside would be quite entrancing I think.

In a way it would be really good to be able to create many different pieces that reflect the developments in my research but that would be like setting up a massive exhibition of my own! (Maybe one day)

We still don’t know for sure how much space we get for our individual work in the end of year MA show. I’m hoping to get a proto-type completed soon so that I can not only know for myself what scale would work best but also use the proto-type to indicate scale and usability to others.

PIR lights

November 16, 2009

The small magnetic lights arrived from Hong Kong but they don’t work all that great. They are supposed to work with a magnet that once pulled away from the unit cause the light to switch on. They are advertised to be used in say a cupboard where the magnet would be attached to the inside of the door and the light would be attached to the underside of the top of the cupboard. So when you open the door the light turns on. However, they seem to be a little temperamental and have either stopped working completely or decide to switch on or off in an erratic manner unrelated to the location of the magnet. They are also actually much smaller than I thought. But then that’s the risk of purchasing something from ebay I guess. They only cost about £4 so it was worth the risk.

Small lights activated with magnets

Small lights activated with magnets

Anyway I thought they could be used in some inventive way. I thought of maybe attaching the magnets to wands and getting people to turn the lights on from hidden places under my possible sculptures? Or some other hidden form of physical interaction where the person wouldn’t know a magnet was involved and would just assume it was all touch based. Hmm, if only I could create something touch based – but I’ve realised my skills in programming will not be advancing any time soon.

I’m actually quite wary of even going down that route – not only because I know I am not going to have time but also because I think I can find alternative solutions that allow more time for experimentation and proto-typing instead. Plus the pattern-making takes up the majority of my time. I don’t mind this as I still enjoy this very much, but it means I need to manage my time especially efficiently.

The disappointment of these small lights led me to Maplin where I purchased a much chunkier light which actually uses PIR (passive infra-red) to detect movement and so turns on automatically. This is designed for in-door/garage use and works well for what it is. The light seems to have a bit of a blue tinge to it though.

PIR light

PIR light - you can see comparative size of this to the smaller lights and the small pin I left on the desk but which highlights the scale of proportion

The down-side is that there is no flexibility in terms of how long the light stays on for (dependent on movement being continuous) and it has only 3 modes:

– On all the time,
– Off all the time,
– or automatic activation which only works in the dark and when movement is detected.

I did a bit of testing with this and it turns on as soon as you get a few feet near it. But the light doesn’t reach far enough and this I think will pose safety issues unless I have some other dim but permanent source of light also in the room/space I exhibit it.

During my tests I stuck my reflective cut-out onto the ceiling near a corner at a curved angle so that it looked like a web hanging down.

Shadow_vs_reflection - hanging pattern

Hanging reflective pattern cut-out. This was with the light on - one side shows the reflected pattern and the other shows the shadow - both stand out very well

I then switched the lights off and used the PIR light as if it were a torch moving around with it. The cool thing about this is that it deals with a very strong aspect of the interaction I was hoping for.

(I have a video of this but it’s a bit jumpy and has me having a conversation over it so I need to remove the audio before it can be viewed. As soon as it’s sorted I will post it up so be sure to look out for it as I think it’s come out quite good).

Here’s a shot before I made the video – not the best but conveys how it looks in the dark (light source being the large PIR unit I mentioned above):

Shadow_vs_reflection - hanging pattern

Once again shadow vs reflection - a nice line of symmetry shown here

I wanted the light and work to be affected by the motions of the viewer. Carrying the source of light means that the light is in constant motion and as it reflects off of the surface of the work the projected reflections as well as the shadows are also in constant motion.

SO I think this is a significant development – and although it seems a bit funny when I think about how someone new to the work might view it in a physical sense, I also think it will be quite fun.

So my objectives for the next week or so is to think of ways to present this light source to the viewer, look into how they may use this, carry it, interact with it and what the dangers of this might be (if there are any).

I also need to speak to Andy about how dark I can have the space in which I install my work and what restrictions I may face.

As for the actual sculptural materials – I am currently seeking advice on what can and cannot be laser-cut, what is flexible enough to be re-shaped or moulded after having been cut and how I might be able to mount/display these.

And finally – we have our Unit 1 assessment due in early December which is when we not only have to have a proto-type ready but also have an online curated page which illustrates how we have met the learning outcomes for that Unit. I’m pretty sure the curating part will not be too difficult in terms of finding content, but it will be tricky deciding which posts are most significant in conveying my developments. This will be the true test to see if all my tagging and categorisation was done well.

On an unrelated note but one that is concerning me is that I realised I didn’t put enough quotes in my essay. Actually I am shocked at the lack of them and can only imagine I was out of my mind at the time not to have done so. Now I just want to hurry up and know my marks so that I can stop worrying and move on.

Sample work 2

December 10, 2008

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

Don Relyea – Q&A

October 18, 2008

Well I emailed Don Relyea as I said I would ( and very kindly he responded in detail with some very interesting answers and observations:

I really like your work involving the generation of geometric shapes with programming in interactive applets. What would you say triggered your desire to use these types of shapes in your designs?

Since most of my work is created in some kind of programming language, it is natural to describe shapes and forms with math and both 2d and 3d geometry. I have always enjoyed math. From about 1999-2003 I developed severe sleep apnea, this deprived my brain of oxygen and meaningful sleep. Over that time I began to lose the ability to do math, solve complex problems, and even routine programming exercises became extremely difficult.

I thought I was losing my mind. When I figured out what was wrong and started treatment, it was as though I had just emerged from a thick fog into daylight. I immersed myself in math and exploratory programming with a new found zeal. The recovery and subsequent rediscovery of my love for math was the catalyst for the burst of abstract geometric and space-filling curve works.

Considering how much emphasis has been placed on geometry in the past and the desire to create artwork based on exact measurements of shapes (e.g the use of golden ratio), where do you see geometry fitting in contemporary art?

Geometry will always have a place in the world of contemporary art. Successful artists are successful manipulators. Geometry is a great foil for manipulation. Why is it that people are drawn to compositions with certain proportions? When something is out of proportion, why is it so jarring?

I think that a lot of the answers to these questions lie in neuroscience and the way our brains are wired to recognize patterns and forms. There have been a lot of recent studies that show that we have at a minimum 2 brain functions going on at the same time, the executive mind and the habitual mind. The executive mind is what we engage when we encounter something new or need to solve a problem, the habitual mind is our autopilot. This is not a new concept, ancient Zen masters were aware of this. The habitual mind is programmed through repetition to detect patterns and shapes and it keys in on certain proportions like golden ratios, facial symmetry, etc. As an artist you can play with this feature in your viewers brains to evoke a response.

Mark Mothersbaugh’s current exhibit at LACDA titled “Beautiful Mutants” is great example this manipulative technique in action.
In “Bottom Heavy Pug” Mothersbaugh is challenging both the executive and habitual mind simultaneously, the picture looks enough like the original that your habitual mind immediately identifies it as a dog. Your executive mind also immediately recognizes that there is something proportionally awry with the picture. The internal conflict makes the picture memorable and engaging.

Bottom heavy pug by Mark Mothersbaugh

Along the same line of reasoning, works that are geometrically exact are equally engaging. Geometric perfection is actually quite rare in nature and we can recognize when a form is artificially perfect. In “Bottom Heavy Pug” the vertical symmetry is exact, we recognize that this is uncommon and take note.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Don Relyea for taking the time to answer these questions, and with such detail 🙂

There are loads more interesting projects he is working on, so once again I recommend a look at his site. In particular I’ve just noticed this project based on html layouts and table based html structures which actually form interesting imagery when viewed in a browser: the reductionizer.

Bathsheba Grossman

October 16, 2008

I’ve just found a great site and some great artwork. It encompasses a large idea I had of producing some of my own designs in some kind of 3d form, as well as the theories on which my research is based. It also relates back to the image in one of my earlier posts where I mentioned the ideas of Donald (H.S.M) Coxeter and showed how a hypercube could be evolved to a higher dimension of shape.

600 Cell by Bathsheba Grossman

600 cell –

Snub 24 cell by Bathsheba Grossman

Snub 24 Cell –

Grossman also mentions the subject areas that I am interested in exploring in my research and which will link to geometry.

Grossman says:

I’m an artist exploring the region between art and mathematics, and this is my gallery and storefront. My work is about life in three dimensions: working with symmetry and balance, getting from a zero point to infinity, and always finding beauty in geometry.

That’s to say, I like to think about shapes, and occasionally I think up a new one, and usually they come out very symmetrical.

I highly recommend visiting the site Grossman explains that her motivations for creating the metal based sculptures are far from commercial and she simply prices her work in order to make it available to anyone and not just those with large amounts of money. She also explains her working process, conveys her working space through images and descriptions and allows visitors to her site use of her 3d-print images for furthering their own practice in creating similar work.

Grossman tells us of her efforts to find a suitable solution for creating her work and does so in a very open manner. The site is written and maintained in her own words and not through a third party. All these elements combine to give a very friendly perception of her personality and her work and just a strangely comforting good vibe about her intentions.

Regardless of all this, I think the work is remarkable. The 3d forms allow for different angles and views of the pieces, each time making them look a little different, and also for the effect of light and dimness to show the deeper cutouts and interlacing of sections. This adds to the look and feel of the sculptures and the complexity makes them look like inverted mazes that you’d want to shrink yourselves into in order to explore.

Hmm perhaps a maze is something I can work with? Will develop this idea later me thinks.


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.

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

–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.

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!