Artist Sol Lewitt famously created rules that created his art. Making images using math is just that: a rule is created by deciding on an equation or a method, then an image is created by having a graphic program or a patient hand be guided by the rule.
I’ve done plenty work by hand, but that’s not what I’m showing in this post.
I’ve been having great fun making images in various programs. The image above was made in a free on-line program called Geogebra. I wanted to begin to learn Geogebra for a long time, but hadn’t been able to make heads or tails of it. A couple of months ago twitter friend Becky Warren offered classes, 90 minutes a week for 10 weeks. We’re on week 8. I’ve been all thumbs with the learning, but have stuck with it. This week we’ve been doing spirographic images. Check out the #geogebraArt hashtag on twitter to see some amazing work that’s been done by participants in this class.
I’ve also been doing this kind of work in Adobe Illustrator. Using Illustrator is actually closer to making something by hand that the other programs I’ve been using. This could be because I’m so much more familiar with it than I am with Desmos or Geogebra.
More often than not the “rules” have nothing to do with numbers, but, rather, they are about building relationships between shapes. The image above is a sample of following a method of working, following a Byzantine design which I found until the title Khirbat al Mafjar Oculus. I recreated it, thinking I would use it for a folding project that I was working on, but it turned out not to be the right choice. Still, it was great fun to make. The final outline is below.
Once I have this image in my computer, I can color it in all sorts of ways, which is great fun.
A perk of using the graphic math software is that I can set things up so the images transform easily by moving sliders that mess with the relationships of the curves in the drawings. The image below is a variation of the first image of this post, transformed in seconds by moving around a few sliders.
These graphics have been such pleasure to explore.
What I’ve learned about math, what keeps me wanting to keep diving in, is that it allows me to do so much more than I could do otherwise. Not sure if it’s play or work that I’m doing, but it feels both whimsical a valuable.
I’m still making work by hand, enjoying that too. Which is what my next post will be about.