Posts from the ‘Plane-Filling Curves’ category

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The new exhibition concept:

You can see the artworks here: Gallery Sun pieces


Emergent Nets: Optical Sutras is a series of artworks on paper and metal of geometric constructions. The title of the series and exhibition combines two concepts – Emergence, and Sutras.

In philosophy and systems theory, Emergence occurs when “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts,” meaning the whole has properties its parts do not have. These properties come about because of interactions among the parts. Emergence plays a central role in theories of integrative levels and of complex systems. For instance, the phenomenon of life as studied in biology is an emergent property of chemistry.

The Sanskrit word Sutra means “string or thread”. The root of the word is siv, that which sews and holds things together and is related to sūnā meaning “woven”. In literature, sūtra means a distilled collection of syllables and words, an aphorism, rule or direction, hanging together like threads with which the teachings of ritual, philosophy, grammar, or any field of knowledge can be woven.


These artworks similarly, are composed by following short geometric rules that weave together to create an optical effect, to make a “kasina” – a Buddhist term for a visual object of meditation. The result is a complex net, path or structure, which has emerged by following a series of rules or procedures, and which possess variable beautiful effects which are revealed only at particular distances from the work. The details appear to be important, but they exist only to embody the system. The closer you get, the less meaning there is, while the further away you stand, the easier it is to comprehend.

The Emergent Net series are not only perceptual artworks, exploring visual phenomena, they are also intended to inspire philosophical contemplation. The winding paths, hidden patterns, and ordered complexity prompt musings on the nature of the cosmos and our challenge to see it clearly.


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Flow Fish III

These fish are schooling, and in their frenzy form a special formation. The tessellation is made from a single tile design, and appears in mirrored as well as regular orientation. Two different shadings, and 3 colours, create two interlocking figures, dark and light, a figure  known as the Gosper Flowsnake. The fish have a bright lateral line, this line traces out the plane-filling Gosper curve, from the lower left to the lower right.  The fish inhabit a watery universe which has two flows of dark water and light water, the dark and light swirls grow out of these bodies of water.

The version shown is the aluminium version in golds and reds. A detail of the paper print version in greens and blues is below.

Flow Fish II Detail

Flow Fish II  (paper print version) detail


Sardines I

Sardines I

This tiling is not only a tessellation, but also traces the path of a plane-filling curve, commencing and ending at the lower apex of the hexagon. The path is picked out in gold by textile craftsmen, with the kind assistance of Indonesian textile artist Baron Manansang.

 Unusually for a tessellation, this is not one tile per creature, but each tile has parts of different creatures – tails, heads, and mid-sections. The sardines created are of different lengths, depending on where they occur along the path.

From a distance 3 related patterns appear. Once is the curvaceous gold thread that traces the path, the other is the wider gap that is very obvious from a distance, and the third  is the narrow gap that follows an arabesque branching version of the gold path.

This design is inspired by the textile designs of Indonesia, where there is a tradition of working over batik cloths with gold leaf. Often this will pick out elements of the patterns, as in this example, other styles overlay a completely unrelated motif or design over the batik. Batiks themselves are often tessellations, and the “chop” version is created with copper stamps which are themselves stunning works of art and craftsmanship.

Sardines I

Detail of print overlaid with gold paint


Migration I

Migration I

Migration I 

Tortoises and Lizard migrate across their world from right to left. The two creatures have different modes of migration, the tortoises branch out as they wander and fan out across the top of their world, forming many paths, while the lizards branch in to a single path along the base.