The connection between mathematics and art goes back thousands of years. Mathematics has been used in the design of Gothic cathedrals, Rose windows, oriental rugs, mosaics and tilings. Geometric forms were fundamental to the cubists and many abstract expressionists, and award-winning sculptors have used topology as the basis for their pieces. Dutch artist M.C. Escher represented infinity, Möbius bands, tessellations, deformations, reflections, Platonic solids, spirals, symmetry, and the hyperbolic plane in his works.
Mathematicians and artists continue to create stunning works in all media and to explore the visualization of mathematics--origami, computer-generated landscapes, tesselations, fractals, anamorphic art, and more.
"An Iris Spiral," by Frank A. Farris (Santa Clara University, San Jose, CA)
Aluminum print, 51 x 61 cm, 2015
My artistic impulse is to let the beauty of the real world shine into the realm of mathematical patterns. My method combines photographs with complex-valued functions in the plane to create images with all possible types of symmetry. I photographed the irises and used complex wave functions to turn the image into a pattern with four-fold rotational symmetry. Then I applied a complex exponential mapping to wind the wallpaper around the complex plane, choosing just the right scaling to make the pattern match, while also creating five-fold symmetry. I bleached an outer ring to bring focus to the center of the spiral and to allow the original photograph of the iris to stand out. Details about wallpaper waves appear in my book, Creating Symmetry: The Artful Mathematics of Wallpaper Patterns. --- Frank A. Farris