patternsthatconnect

abstract art, a systems view

Posts Tagged ‘mathematics

1+2+3+4=10 is beautiful isn’t it?

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I don’t know why I find the simple sequence 1+2+3+4=10 beautiful, I just do. It doesn’t have to be ordered in a hierarchy for me to find it so, in fact I think I prefer it not to be, though a lot has been made of it presented in this way, just google tetractys and look at all the images. There are some wonderful paintings and constructions by Natalie Dower exploring the series non-hiererchically arranged. I think it is only when the sequence is arranged as in the diagram that we call it a tetractys (though I could be wrong about that).

Apparantly Pythagoras gave it mystical meaning and it has significance in the Kabbalah too (see this website for more information about these mystical associations).

It gets used in this hierarchical fashion in poetry too, in relation to the number and pattern of syllables. Sharmistha Basu explains:

The poetry form, Tetractys, consists of at least 5 lines of 1, 2, 3, 4, 10 syllables (total of 20). Tetractys can be written with more than one verse, but must follow suit with an inverted syllable count. Tetractys can also be reversed and written 10, 4, 3, 2, 1. These two combined together, that is 1,2,3,4,10,10,4,3,2,1 is called double tetractys, it can be further extended to triple or more.

and offers some good examples at window2mysoul.

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Written by Andy Parkinson

August 25, 2012 at 7:30 am

Abstract painting and maths

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The Mathematics Institute at the University of Warwick has a number of abstract paintings on the walls. One of them is painted directly onto the wall.

This magnificent work by Ian Davenport entitled Everything, is the result of pouring paint (via a syringe) from the top of the wall, one stripe at a time. The colours run down the wall and form little pools on the ledge below.

Following a predetermined system Davenport seems to combine both control and chance, the colours taking the path set for them, yet sometimes meeting and mixing with others, their specific forms allowed rather than delineated.

There are smaller paintings than this, some of theme equally concerned with the process of painting, and with the “deliberately accidental”, Callum Innes‘s words for the process he adopts of dividing the canvas into two, painting a quarter with a flat colour leaving the other quarter exposed, and then taking the same colour and applying it to the other half of the canvas before “unpainting” it by rubbing it off with turpentine, leaving a ghost of the original colour.

Down the corridor from this painting is almost its opposite. A painting that has little interest in ghosts of paint, or even in paint that is flatly applied. Gillian Ayres‘ paint stands a couple of inches off the surface of the canvas, thick and physically present.

Apparently the mathematicians here are fond of the abstract paintings, and are surprised when we are surprised by that. “After all” they say “we are used to working with abstract concepts”