Gilbert Hsiao at Select Fair

The Select Art Fair in NYC last week had an emphasis on Performance and Installation Art. I was not sure I would find any work with Mathematical elements besides my own work and the Tessellation prints of Dikko Faust. After the smoke cleared, and I mean that literally – an installation piece featuring mating bigfoot mannequins used a smoke machine during the busiest hours of the show – I was able to find some Math Art. The Transmitter Gallery exhibited the work of Gilbert Hsiao in their booth. I was particularly impressed with The sculpture “Headstone Friends”.
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“Headstone Friends” from 2015 is a cylindrical column made up of a stack of vinyl records. The circular discs are all parallel with a uniform sliver of space between each record. There is a smaller solid column steel and concrete column running up through the center of the sculpture. The most amazing aspect of this work is the way the light shines through the records at the viewers sight line. Only when the viewer looks straight between the discs is the light between the vinyl visible. Here is a video demonstrating how the light moves up and down with the sightline.
“Headstone Friends” is an interesting use of circular discs to create a column but it is also about how the viewer’s line of vision behaves like a vector. Hsiao enables the viewer to take an active role in the mathematics.
Susan Happersett
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Lower East Side Galleries – March 2014

The Lower East Side neighborhood of Manhattan has a large and varied gallery scene. Though there are fewer galleries here than in the Chelsea Area, there is still a lot of great art. The galleries in the LES tend to be smaller and more intimate then in other parts of NYC . Many of the galleries are newer and less established and will take on different types of work.

Gil Blank at Joe Sheftel Gallery

The Joe Sheftel Gallery  has a exhibition of photographs by Gil Blank that are an exploration of the night sky. Blank uses an interesting technique of taking thousands of photos throughout a year then superimposing them until they accumulate into a single image. He has created one for each year beginning in 1986. The black background of the dark night sky is removed and replaced by another color. This new color is determined using a digital random color generator.

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Gil Blank – Unti­tled – 2012 – Pig­ment ink jet print on poly­ester film
Picture courtesy of the gallery and the artist

Here is a detail of the same work:

Gil Blank - Unti­tled - 2012 - Pig­ment ink jet print on poly­ester film   Picture courtesy of the gallery and the artist

Gil Blank – Unti­tled – 2012 – Pig­ment ink jet print on poly­ester film (detail)
Picture courtesy of the gallery and the artist

There are two elements to these photographs that appeal to my interest in mathematics. First, the choice of color for the background. By removing the dark night sky, Blank has taken stars in the sky and abstracted them to become geometric points on a plane. Then, allowing the new color to be digitally randomly generated, the algorithm of the generating software becomes part of the artistic process. The second mathematical component is the accumulation of thousands of these sets of points with each set already containing a multitude of points. This series of photographs work flirts with the concept of Infinity.

 Laura Watt at McKenzie Fine Art Gallery

Vector diagrams are an interesting starting point for making abstract art. Laura Watt uses vectors to structure the patterns in some of her oil paintings. There are two excellent example of this work exhibited in her solo show at McKenzie Fine Art gallery. In “Vector Finding” Watt has used series of vectors fanning out from points near the corners of the canvas. Then, the triangular areas bound within these rays, are filled in with diamond-shaped grids and arcs of circles. The final image resembles cone-shaped structures consisting of nets of lines.

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Laura Watt – Vector Finding – 2014 – Oil on canvas
Picture courtesy of the gallery and the artist

In “Oriented Vision” the vectors are starting from only two points at the top and bottom left hand corners of the canvas. The artists uses arcs to give the illusion of a curved surface and there are multiple sets of rotated and superimposed grid patterns . This painting is reminiscent of a globe or map, but lines of latitude and longitude, however, are only one of the sets of grids. Watt embraces the use of vibrant and intricate patterning in her paintings. These two examples illustrate how mathematics can be part of this process.

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Laura Watt – Oriented Vision – 2014 – Oil on canvas
Picture courtesy of the artist and the gallery