Pattern and Meaning

Issue 30 February 2017

Pattern and Meaning

“Pattern can be discerned at all scales that exist between the infinitesimal and the infinite. We humans oddly seem to occupy nearly the mid point in this scale, which has been commented on as a new type of anthropocentrism. Humans (and to varying extents other living creatures) have an inborn and intense predisposition to perceive, represent and create pattern to make sense of a perilous and confusing world around us. We have primordial awareness of pattern to make sense of our place in the scheme of things and to make meaning and purpose out of our finite and limited existence. Pattern is both a function of our perception and an attribute of the world. The entire cosmos could be said to be an eternally unfolding sequence of patterns.”

Simeon Nelson is a sculptor and installation artist. He is currently professor of sculpture at the University of Hertfordshire

Pattern and Prejudice

“There are ambiguities around the term ‘pattern’, which mean that in common usage it can be extended to include all manner of decorative effects, including textures and variegations as well as repeating designs – a vagueness that is itself indicative of the lower status that pattern is accorded in our present visual culture…….the post-Renaissance prejudice against pattern has meant that it has rarely been taught systematically in Art or Design schools. Perhaps, in the light of a revival of interest in the use of ornament generally, this should be reconsidered? If better understood, the limitations of this genre could, after all, be viewed as offering new design possibilities.”

David Wade is a Sculptor, Graphic Artist, Photographer and Author of numerous books on geometry and pattern, including ‘Pattern in Islamic Art’, ‘Geometric Patterns and Borders’ and ‘Crystal & Dragon: The Cosmic Dance of Symmetry and Chaos in Nature, Art and Consciousness’.

Experiencing the human condition ‘in-between’

Rachel Kneebone’s intricate works address and question the human condition: renewal, transformation, life cycles and the experience of inhabiting the body. Her sculptures operate in a near-subliminal space, oscillating and blurring the boundaries between the conscious and the subconscious, the real and the imagined, everything and nothing. Working in porcelain, the material properties of her work further heighten and convey an awareness of opposing states, appearing to be not only heavy, solid and strong but also light, fragmentary and soft. In the work fragments of the human body multiply, merge and cascade down, unfurling around a complex tableau of organic and geometric forms.

In this exclusive interview, Rachel Kneebone discusses her work and her interest in addressing the human condition that is centred on the human body.

from ‘Element’

Cecil Balmond OBE, is widely considered to be one of the most significant creators of his generation.

An internationally renowned artist, architect and engineer, Cecil Balmond transcends the conventional boundaries of discipline working in the crossover between art and science. In this dynamic area, he has re-invented the very concept of space, transforming the meaning of geometry, form and structure.

Balmond’s design approach engages inner organisational systems – a process based on rigorous research. He has spent over 40 years investigating the relationship between form and the very roots of order at the core of life

If I Were an Astronomer. If I Were a Botanist.

From 2013-2015, Kozloff challenged herself to bring the decorative and cartographic together. Spurred by recent travel along the silk route, she returned for the first time to the Islamic star patterns that structured her early art. A group of works titled “If I Were a Botanist” and “If I Were an Astronomer” revisit two artist books Kozloff made in 1977, in which she manipulated the black-and-white diagrams in Islamic geometry books, morphing and tessellating the patterns to create kaleidoscopic compositions saturated with color. Using these earlier pages as templates, Kozloff employed digital processes to reimagine the arrangement and expand the scale of the patterns. She then infused these intricate paintings with collage elements comprised of outtakes and trial proofs from previous projects, overpainting every tiny bit of attached paper with delicate brushstrokes. Merging the biographical and the political, each panel becomes a microcosm of the artist’s career. In “If I Were a Botanist: the Journey,” patterns radiate and converge in constellations of interlocking shapes unfurling across thirty feet of canvas. Their joyful aura disguises the embedded political content, visible on closer inspection.

An Exploration between Vision and Sound

“My work is an exploration between vision and sound and the power of this connection to generate compelling visual environments. The inquiry of this integration has also satisfied a strong interest in the ideas and methodology of science as a basis for the conceptual underpinning of the work. As such, the method of creating my work is scientifically inspired with a well thought out and tested process oriented to have optimal pragmatic results both for the quality of the work itself and the benefits of the process for me as the maker. I pursue a union between the perceptual and conceptual with a visual art that can be both perceptually powerful enough to hold the eye in our visually demanding world, yet simultaneously meditative, reflective, and firmly rooted in a solid conceptual foundation.”

Daniel Hill is an abstract painter and sound artist whose work has been included in numerous exhibitions exploring the relationship between painting, sound, and science.
He is currently an Adjunct Associate Professor of Art at Pace University in Manhattan.

A world over-amplified and speeding up

“A world over-amplified and speeding up.

The telescoping of industrialised environment, consumer spectacle, celebration, delirium, waste and war through time.”

Tod Hanson’s current work can also be seen as an outcome of past experience producing large scale graphic works with Greenpeace UK and painting nightclub interiors. This with an interest in architecture, the decorative arts, diagrams and mapping.

Signs of Life

Julius Colwyn is a nomad, in between disciplines, walking the strange places between the bodies of knowledge, a thought ecologist.

His work is concerned with how we grow an understanding, how we can incubate a meaning within a metaphor, a metaphor in a pattern, the pattern within a form, the form within a structure, the structure within a space.

His theoretical background is in art history and literature, and his artistic practice engages scientists of various disciplines, exploring questions about reality and human nature that lie between disciplinary boundaries.

Sculpture. Installation. Drawing. Text.

“Mapping, ornament and other languages of systematic representation are a focus of my practice. My sculptural language transposes between the graphical and the spatial using the tropes of cartography, ethnographic ornament and scientific illustration. The resulting work is as much a map or model of itself as of its referent.”

Simeon Nelson is a sculptor, new media and interdisciplinary artist interested in convergences between science, religion and art, complexity theory and relationships between art, architecture urban sites and the natural world.

The Mathematics of Life

Kit Yates is a Lecturer in Mathematics at the University of Bath, UK, where his research focuses on the mathematical modelling and analysis of biological systems. Throughout his career to date, he has worked on a variety of intriguing problems, modelling the random motion of single molecules at one extreme, to the large-scale migration of swarming insects at the other. In this exclusive interview he discusses his research and work in Mathematical Biology.

Time and Memory

“Time and memory play an important role in my work. I aspire to translate these feelings, perceptions, and sensations into something palpable, fluid , intimating the process by which formlessness becomes form. I work in varied formats, drawings, paintings, books, digital imagery, photography and sculpture, all based in an abstract language.”

Robyn Ellenbogen is a visual artist and Zen Buddhist practitioner. Her work is widely exhibited throughout the New York Metropolitan area and is included in private and public collections.

Fluid Geometries and Pattern Pieces

David Wade is a Sculptor, Graphic Artist, Photographer and Author of numerous books on geometry and pattern, including ‘Pattern in Islamic Art’, ‘Geometric Patterns and Borders’ and ‘Crystal & Dragon: The Cosmic Dance of Symmetry and Chaos in Nature, Art and Consciousness’.

Fluid Geometries and Pattern Pieces are a selection of some of his own artworks.

A Phenomenological and Process Approach to Pattern

“Merely conceiving of and talking about reality and experience at all presuppose notions of pattern, meaning and consciousness. This position recognises the immanence of an existing objective reality, which nevertheless is in any way accessible and meaningful to us only though our subjective apprehension of it. Reciprocally it also recognises that consciousness is always consciousness of the real world – a response to the meanings of the world, to the world’s own consciousness as it were. The pattern of being is deeply relational, originating in between ‘subject’ and ‘object’, prior to their separation.”

Monia Brizzi is a London based Chartered Psychologist, Registered Psychotherapist and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society.

Pattern Finding and the Thirty-Seventh Move

“People have always searched for the “song beneath the song” – a way to discover, match, and predict the patterns of a complicated world. Every job, from firefighting to lawyering, demands that practitioners learn the patterns, say, of how a fire grows or an argument is made. But how deep do patterns go? Are there patterns that underlie it all? Can our computers learn them for us?”