I was recently interviewed by Will Kitson from Seymour magazine. Seymour Magazine is published by Seymour Projects, a Paris based Organization dedicated to creativity and self-expression. They have a special focus on Technology and how people connect and disconnect from technology a versus their own inner worlds.
The interview topics ranged over the Science inspiration behind some of my more abstract works and how my science background affects my artistic process to more general topics such as the benefits and pitfalls of being a “self-taught” artist. (but don’t we all learn almost everything through other people in one sense or another?). A number of my abstract Science-Art pieces are featured in the article. The article is published online here.
In particular, I have found that a formal class in the basics of a new technique can be very helpful. I took an introductory Oil painting class when I had been working with oils for about a year. We learned some very useful things about how to mix, thin, thicken, dry and apply oil paint and were introduced to a few different approaches to creating a painting. It would have taken much longer to get a grip on all of the basic mechanics of oil painting and move on to developing artistic skill and a style as a pure autodidact. Once an artist understands how the materials work, and some basic ideas about light, shadow and form, there’s really very little benefit to pursuing class after class (in my opinion). It’s true that workshops may be a great way to meet people and make friends. However classes that try to address really detailed specific of artistic practice are often. I have seen many “Master classes” that arbitrarily elevate very “realistic” renderings over a deeper understanding of the power and potential of the medium.
The pieces they chose for the article include several Science Figure-inspired Drawings such as Entropic Repulsions (below) and Complex Fluid. Entropic Repulsions, Learning Circuit, Complex Fluid, Tunneling Regime and Transition to Chaos are all featured in the article.
I find it interesting that most of the pieces they selected are inspired by phenomena and ideas where various characteristics of Entropy are keys to understanding the Science. In the popular imagination “entropy” means disorder and chaos. While the simple idea that entropy is “messiness” is not a terrible approximation, it isn’t exactly right either. It is more informative and useful to think of entropy as a measure of the number of available states a particle or molecule or nanothingy can access.
Imagine a perfectly ordered and arranged room, with a place for everything and everything in its place. Think of Adrian Monk’s apartment in the Cable TV series Monk. How many different arrangements of furniture and objects – states – can that room have and still be perfectly ordered. Not too many, right? Now imagine how many different ways that room can be messy, and all of the different arrangements of furniture and objects that are possible in a messy room. The messy room has a lot more possible states.
While it isn’t completely wrong to thing of entropy as disorder, it is also not terribly useful if you want to understand Thermodynamics. Think in terms of number of states accessible and thermodynamics and entropy start to make more sense.
The pieces featured in Seymour explore entropy in various forms and also “disorder”. In Complex Fluid, fanciful surfactant nanostructures dance across the page. The aggregation of individual amphiphiles and the phase behavior of lyotropic organized liquids are both driven by the “hydrophobic effect” and other entropic phenomena. Entropic Repulsions explores configurational entropy of polymers, especially when used to keep very small particles separated in particulate flows. Transition to Chaos is more clearly about “disorder” in the Popular Science understanding of entropy. Heat something up, and when it gets red enough the ordered areas start to melt. Even Learning Circuit touches on fuzzy logic, and Tunneling Regime touches on Uncertainty.
I wonder whether these choices were a coincidence or whether the editors of Seymour somehow sensed a connection between the freedoms of the mind and large number of subjective states explored in the magazine and simple physical entropy, and disorder as explored in my work.
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