Sunday, May 15, 2011

Li Symmetries

You MUST read the Quadrivium!
The Quadrivium is a superb coffee table book.  The Quadrivium are the four classical sciences of number, geometry, music, and cosmology, "studied from antiquity to the Renaissance as a way of glimpsing the nature of reality.  Geometry is number in space, music is number in time, and the cosmos expresses number in space and time."

I'm not a math or science person, and you don't have to be to enjoy this gorgeous book's one page topics.  I like to just open the book at random and read one.  This morning was the concept of Li Symmetries.  Li Symmetries are patterns found in nature that are self organizing, and differ from "static symmetry" in that "they are primarily caused by interaction between processes and materials."  Some of the most readily recognizable examples of this in nature are tree bark, or the ribbing of the sand in the beach caused by wind.

Clouds are also an example of this, and I've cited clouds as a reference point many times for how I often approach working with wool.  I see symmetries in raw wool that arise in the sheep's coat as it interacted with the elements and the sheep's movement while it wore the wool.  So further when I'm am looking for pattern's in the wool (meaningful or otherwise), a second "interaction between process and material" occurs between my felting needle and the inherent symmetries in the wool..

It struck me as odd (I don't know why, because this is just how my life works) that I opened to the Quadrivium's entry on Li Symmetries this morning, because last night I got sucked into working in a really different way with the patterns in the wool.  I'm working in an abstract way at creating a 2.5 dimension piece of patterned wool which will likely be attached to a canvas and covered in paint and or resin.

It seemed a little "blasphemous" to me at first because part of the joy of wool is the tactile nature. . . even if you don't touch it, it's "tactile to the eye" somehow.  Covering it in paint. . .it's like it isn't wool anymore.  But I've been playing around with painting it anyway, and I think the results are interesting, even if it is far, far away from the material's roots.

I don't usually show stuff still in process, but this is just playful and fun, and I have no idea if it will be remotely successful in the end, but the process itself has been really rewarding and freeing, to just play in anyway I want with any materials that occur to me.  I love the strange patterns in the locks, and so just randomly capturing them rather than vision questing  "cloud dreams" and affixing them as the surface of a 3-d base sculpture is divinely meditative.

I LOVE walking in the woods and noticing symmetries in the bark, and the symmetries of branch-growth as affected by the ocean winds.  So as different as this wall-hanging piece is (whether it ends up affixed to canvas, or to a quilt even) I feel like it's absolutely a continuation of my past explorations with wool.  Which, even if it ends up as bad art, is a rewarding growth process.  Which is all that is really important.

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