Alan Singer

Professor,School of Art, R.I.T., Rochester, New York, USA

Latest Blog Entries

Slice of Life
Oct. 12, 2014

My new book is out, and it blends art & mathematics in a series of paintings and prints.  The following was published by ArtWorld:

 

 

 

Slice of Life is a new book that presents a portfolio of my selected images with an essay by Anne C. Coon.    Her writing serves as an introduction to my recent creative output where I am actively using mathematics to develop visual imagery.  There are prior artists who have employed mathematical imagery, and I first think of a print of Albrecht Durer’s Melancholia, and then more recently, paintings from the American

 artist Sol Lewitt.

 

What attracted me to work with numbers along with my paints and papers was the other tool that has become ubiquitous, and that is the computer.  When I came to teach at Rochester Institute of Technology in early 1988, computer drawing was still a new thing, and I learned by taking night classes at R. I. T. I didn’t have my own personal computer until 1990.

 

When I was an art student in New York City, my teachers would all say that there is no formula for making art, and here in my new art, that is exactly what I use to conjure my imagery – the visualizations of equations.  In part, my goal is to bring new forms to visual art, and explore the possibilities.  I am not a mathematician, I am a visual artist that employs the tools that make my work interesting and challenging.

 

 I started out years ago making paintings  from observations of nature but gradually my artwork became more abstract and I found that the computer allowed me to venture into areas that would have been very difficult otherwise.  For example some of my art explores the development of scenes that begin on the computer monitor with shapes made from geometric formulae.  The results can either look very two-dimensional, or they can be projected on a three-dimensional space so you can actually  “see” it from different perspectives. In this way, creating my art is akin to photography, because I can “walk around” my composition in virtual space, and find the best vantage point to make my composition.  I can also light the scene the way I want, and so in this respect it is very close to theatre.

 

Originally I was daunted by the notion that art and mathematics were separate and occupy totally different territory (right brain – left brain).  Now I see these disciplines as being an extension of each other, and this is celebrated in my

art, - though the viewer might not need to be aware of it.  That is the interesting thing about visual art – the viewer can appreciate the result without having to witness the process.

 

Once you start working with the computer you are immersed in a system of applied mathematics, and I think this fact is lost on most people.  For me to create art using the computer, I had to try to understand how it worked, because it is very different than the subjective decisions one makes when you are creating a painting or a print.

The logic that drives digital art can seem at first to be very alien, but once you get the hang of it -it can be thrilling. 

 

Many of the programs that I use on the computer can be downloaded for free and they are designed to enable you to visualize mathematical form.  I first stumbled upon these when looking for ways of integrating geometric forms in my compositions, and I was also influenced by great advances in digital art promoted by the gaming industry.

 

Mathematics can be used to measure and describe reality and also predict possibilities, so it can be a tool when combined with vision and an aesthetic sensibility to make art.  Sometimes when I use an equation to visualize a form I get a surprise that I had not anticipated, and these discoveries are exciting.  I can adjust the numbers in an equation, like one would adjust a recipe to get just the right taste before serving.

 

All of this may seem like theory, but you can go and take a look through the pages of my new book Slice of Life and follow the images that are arranged chronologically, and then walk the path that my artwork has taken, and see that there is much to explore.

 

If you want a preview here is the link: http://www. blurb.com/b/5444688-slice-of-life?ce=blurb_ew&utm_source=widget

 my book is available from Blurb.com, or you can order it by visiting the shop on my web site at www. singerarts.com

Recent activities

Alan Singer
United States