I watched a documentary last night, “Codebreaker” about Alan Turing, the father of computer science. Turing was fascinated with the mathematics of Mother Nature: especially fibonacci phyllotaxis. Turing is already well-known for his amazing achievements, from cracking the German Enigma Machine during World War II to the Turing Test. During his remaining years on this planet, Turing developed the Reaction-Diffusion Theory of Morphogenesis to explain the mechanism of pattern formation in biological systems, such as animal skin pigmentations. Finally, fast forward fifty years later, biologists have provided the first biological evidence to show that Turing’s model experimentally controls hair follicle spacing in mice.
And us artists have been inspired as well: This is Miu Ling Lam’s “Deciphering Nature’s Codes”. His project is a tribute to Alan Turing for the groundbreaking and counterintuitive idea of using Reaction-Diffusion systems to explain the complex mechanism of patterning in nature. Miu Ling Lam developed a set of computer programs to mimic these systems and has extended Turing’s two-component Reaction-Diffusion model to three-components, using the three additive primary colors, red, green, and blue, to represent three types of morphogens that react and diffuse in the system.
Early this August, I had the opportunity to view Sheila Rogers’ “Oceans of Plastic” exhibition at the Art Museum of South Texas (Corpus Christi). The intent of Sheila Rogers’ captivating and colorful artwork is to raise awareness of one of the most disturbing consumer and environmental issues that we choose to ignore today: plastic pollution, particularly in our oceans. The 3-D pieces are made from tons of debris she has collected along the waterfronts of the Corpus Christi area where she lives. Sheila advocates for a reduction of single-use plastics by encouraging small lifestyle changes that will lessen the amount of waste we are depositing into our environment.
What was most shocking to me was the sheer quantities of the same type of item found over and over again all over the beaches: milk jug tops, drinking straws and bic lighters. Each of her pieces in this exhibit were color-sorted collections of plastics that I, personally, use on a daily basis. Sadly, turtles and seabirds are killed easily because they their stomachs become filled with thousands of bite-sized floating garbage chunks and they succumb to a long, slow, and painful starvation.
Sculptor, artist, university professor and computer scientist George W. Hart knows that pure form can exist as a worthy object of art.
Forming a swooshing shape across the science center atrium at Albion College, Comet! is over 100 feet long from one end to the other. The installation is composed of nine individual orbs, made of powder coated aluminum, ranging from 42 to 48 inches in diameter. They can be seen as 3D slices of a four-dimensional sculpture which is highly geometric at the start and gradually morphs into a flower-like final form. Each stage has a darker core intertwined with a lighter tangle. The final structure can be understood to develop in logical steps, like a mathematical derivation.
“The great master of the conceptual magazine cover was the art director George Lois who created so many legendary covers for Esquire in the 1960s. When Muhammad Ali was convicted of draft evasion and stripped of his heavyweight boxing title, Lois depicted him as the martyred St. Sebastian, with arrows sticking out of his body — and he drowned Andy Warhol in a can of Campbell’s soup!” (quote by Annie Liebovitz)
Check out all of the stories behind each of these provocative Esquire covers: