The intersection of categories commonly held as opposites is central to my art practice and world view. This tension between connectedness and duality, often reinforced by language, comes into play with discussions about art and science, east and west, object and subject, left‑brain and right‑brain, qualitative and quantitative, and so on. This paper How And Why I Created This Fur Ball will discuss my interdisciplinary approach to art‑making and provide context for thinking about intersections of art and science.
I have focused on what led to the creation of the large‑format print Multi‑Coloured Fur Sphere, 2010. This image seems representational of biological characteristics, however the creative impulse to experience colour and search for aesthetic relationships led me to develop hybrid coordinates that I used to create mathematical descriptions translated into code, and a plenitude of geometrical forms including this furry‑looking sphere. Interestingly, this work comes out of a tradition of non‑representational abstract art that goes full circle to resemble nature. Math and computation are often considered isolated, cold, mechanical – not natural; however, nature, in effect, is fundamentally the expression of mathematical formulae.
The first part of this paper – How – gives an overview of the trajectory of my work and how the original interest in conducting virtual quasi‑scientific psychophysical experiments, building tools, learning to program, and testing the program, shifted my approach from interactive interfaces to focusing on creating 3D geometrical forms with self‑similar repeating elements as found in fractals and recursive geometries mapping colour to formal attributes. My use of math and geometry, as the basis to write computer programs that generate non‑representational abstract images, relies on fundamental aspects that appear also in physics and biological self‑organizing systems, at both micro‑ and macro‑scale.
The second part of the paper – Why – places the artworks that I am creating within a broad historical and cultural context. Modernism had a polarizing effect upon fields of study, and post‑modernism did not mend this. I see my work as part of a movement toward an idea of science that acknowledges our connectedness to the world we study, and an idea of art that is free to use tools that are usually associated with science, such as mathematics and logic. I discuss historical and contemporary theories and influences on my artistic development, such as Lawren S. Harris, member of Canada’s Group of Seven painters, and his preoccupation with mathematics and revolutionary ideas relating to science in his artistic movement into abstraction. I am particularly interested in the writing of scholars in any field engaged with philosophical issues fundamental to knowledge development and how creativity fits into the bigger picture. Increased global connectivity and interdisciplinary research and collaboration among disciplines as art and science need to strike a balance between the sometimes tenuous and sometimes overly pronounced distinctions that result from insular and specialized approaches. The ability to articulate the metaphysical framework underpinning interdisciplinary research has an important role in shaping the epistemological landscape to enable meaningful trans‑global cooperation and project collaboration.
- Laura De Decker, CA, received her BA in Art and Art History (University of Toronto and Sheridan Institute), an MFA in Visual Arts (University of Victoria), post‑graduate diploma in Interactive Multi‑Media (Sheridan) and taught at Sheridan.
Full text (PDF) p. 50-58