Optical Art and Mathematics

The connection between mathematics and art has always been of interest to me, perhaps because I see a lot of potential in this mix that has only been explored on a surface-level with movements such as Optical Art

The department of mathematics at the National University of Singapore has an interesting page from a course called, Mathematics in Art and Architecture

Michael Bach has this collection of optical illusions & visual phenomena.

In discussions of the intersection of mathematics and art, fractal art will inevitably come up. A fractal in mathematics is defined as a geometric shape with a Hausdorff dimension (1) greater than its Lebesgue covering dimension (2).


A fractal is an object or quantity that displays self-similarity, in a somewhat technical sense, on all scales. The object need not exhibit exactly the same structure at all scales, but the same “type” of structures must appear on all scales. A plot of the quantity on a log-log graph versus scale then gives a straight line, whose slope is said to be the fractal dimension. The prototypical example for a fractal is the length of a coastline measured with different length rulers. The shorter the ruler, the longer the length measured, a paradox known as the coastline paradox.

source:(Mathworld – Fractal)

Examples of visual representations of fractals are plentiful, see for example, Jack Cooper’s Fractal Recursions gallery

[Edited from Photomedia Forum post by T.Neugebauer from 2005-2006  ]

heliography and lithography

Heliography is basically photography with natural light.

The term “heliography” was first coined by its inventor, Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, to identify the process by which he obtained the first permanent photographic images. With its classical derivation from the Greek — helios meaning sun, and graphein denoting writing or drawing — the term encompassed both the source and the process in describing this first successfully permanent means of letting light record itself.

source: HRC – Heliography

is the practice of depositing a design in a greasy substance on a chemically treated stone or plate; the ink is applied such that it stays only on the grease.

Long before the first public announcements of photographic processes in 1839, Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, a scientifically-minded gentleman living on his country estate near Chalon-sur-Saône, France, began experimenting with photography. Fascinated with the craze for the newly-invented art of lithography which swept over France in 1813, he began his initial experiments by 1816.

source: HRC – Frist Photograph

Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, inventor of a famous photographic process created some beautiful drawings before his invention. The Bibliothèque nationale de France has the following drawings credited to Daguerre:

Entrée de la galerie qui conduit à la chapelle du Château de Tournoël. 1er étage, 1829 
Grande cour du Château de Tournoëll
Abside de l’église de Volvic
Intérieur de l’église de Brou 

There seems to be some uncertainty as to Daguerre’s authorship, has anyone encountered these pieces before? What techniques and materials were used to create them?

[Photomedia Forum post by T.Neugebauer from Dec 30, 2005  ]

Subjective Photography in the AAT

I have the impression that subjective photography is becoming more and more popular as a result of the digital camera boom. 

Otto Steinert was lecturer on photography at the Folkwang School in Essen, another very influential post-war photographer. Among his students were the already mentioned Timm Rautert and  Andreas Gursky (who later went to the Bechers after Steinert)

[Photomedia Forum post by T.Neugebauer from Mar 27, 2005 ]

Tadeusz Sumiński

I ran across an online exhibition of photographs by Tadeusz Sumiński and find myself returning to his landscape photography in black and white… his photographs speak for themselves. He says that he has never been able not to ‘aesthetisize’, and although he follows contemporary photography closely, his own favorite work has remained the ‘old-fashioned/antiquated’ black and white landscape.

[Photomedia Forum post by T.Neugebauer from Mar 27, 2005 ]

…and Give my Love to the Swallows (Jaromil Jires)

I watched …and Give my Love to the Swallows today and I felt good again about telling someone that I love them. Jaromil Jires is a contemporary of the Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (FAMU) that define the Czech New Wave: Milos Forman, Jan Nemec, Jiri Menzel, Evald Schorm…

The main character of …and Give my Love to the Swallows portrays the real life Maruska Kuderikova, played with poetic authenticity by the beautiful Magda Vásáryová. Kuderikova was a young idealistic resistance activist during the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia (story takes place in a region of today’s Slovakia), who is able to sneak out her diaries from the prison. The story weaves itself inbetween the prison and Maruska’s memories of family, happiness, rolling hills of wheat, love, hope, and in general, all those aspects of the human life that make it worth living.

[Photomedia Forum post by T.Neugebauer from Sep 22, 2005 ]

Information Design and Architecture

‘Information Design’ also known as “Information Architecture” (IA) and many other names, but we already knew from Gottlob Frege that a symbol can denote many senses…

The first book on Information Design that I read was this book, published in 2000:
Information Design

edited by Robert Jacobson.

I saw it at the MIT bookstore, and couldn’t resist…

One of the first online journals about usability is Boxes and Arrows, and I had the opportunity to attend a presentation and meet its founder Christina Wodtke…I think she was one of the founders of Information Architecture Institute… the presentation consisted largely of a film featuring interviews with various ‘information architects’…
the opportunity was partly the result of the recent IA Summit which just happened to take place in Montreal… one of the interesting applications
discussed at the summit was Flickr Photo Sharing…

Christina published a book on IA in 2002
Information Architecture: Blueprints for the Web 

Information design and information architecture is interesting to me, although it is a little bit like ‘informatics’, the meaning of this seems to be continually redefined with subtle nuances. the following list of disciplines are closely related:

I suppose the inter-disciplinary nature of information makes it difficult to label…

I just run across this article, and thought it was an interesting parallel between architecture and information architecture… i always thought that these have a lot in common…

We Are All Connected: The Path from Architecture to Information Architecture, by Fu-Tien Chiou

For architectures of large scale websites there is

Information Architecture for the World Wide Web: Designing Large-Scale Web Sites
wirtten by Louis Rosenfeld, Peter Morville. This 2nd edition was published in 2002.

Peter Morville published a new book on IA in 2005:
Ambient Findability

You can read an interview with Peter Morville in Boxes and Arrows by Liz Danzico

Designing Interfaces: Patterns for Effective Interaction Design

by Jenifer Tidwell, the book site (http://designinginterfaces.com/) offers a good summary of the contents. Jenifer Tidwell first presented a UI pattern language.

[Edited from Photomedia Forum post by T.Neugebauer from April 18, 2005 – November 18, 2006]

thoughts and imagination

We seem to be in a constant search for replacement and substitution, never actually fully and completely giving anything up.  I think Krishnamurti talks about this as well. We are, as Goethe explains in The Sorrows of Young Werther, like children, rarely changing, and when we do change, it is not for the better – we move away from living in the moment and become fearful of showing our emotions. To live, ‘in the moment’ would mean giving full and complete attention to life, as it unfolds, not giving in to memory’s temptations, but what about imagination? Le mois de la photo in Montreal has the theme of ‘Image and Imagination’ this year.

Is imagination just thought, disguised by the intellect so as not to appear as memory or is it something which holds the secrets of creativity? Socrates believed that our intuitive knowledge and creativity is in fact the memory of another world.

[Photomedia Forum post by T.Neugebauer from June 22, 2005]