Poking around the Web the other day, I came across Phylotaxis. It’s a site that explores the intersection of art and science, and perhaps the third cross-road collision of our culture. When you open the site, you see a mandala made up of small dots. Running your cursor through them makes them scatter. Then they re-form. When you tire of watching negative space have its run, you click to see what this is about. That’s when the fun begins. The mandala grows bigger, and the dots emerge as images. If you click on a dot, it enlarges into a news clip, complete with date, source, and image. Yep, it’s news, sampled. Non-linear recent information. (See the static image from the website below, left.)
If you are organized, it might make you nuts, except there is a way out. The slide beneath the mandala moves. Push it to the left and it moves toward ‘science’ and the dots square up, neatly organized. Move the slide toward ‘culture’ and the dots begin a chaotic Brownian movement dance.
Johnathan Harris, the inventor (creator?) of Phylotaxis, finds interest in things most of us walk past, oblivious. The mandala’s structure, Harris says, came from the Fibonacci Sequence (long before The DaVinci code made it popular) and the Golden Ratio. The Fibonacci Sequence is the set of numbers where each step is the sum of the previous two numbers. This simple formula is found in the petal arrangement of roses, the breeding patterns of rabbits, and the shape of our galaxy.
Harris turns the internet into his paintbox and his vocabulary. His projects plunder internet sites for information and use the information to create art. In one piece, he lines up all the words in the English language in order of how often they are used in writing. In another, he scrapes websites for the words “I feel” and arranges the sentences into a database of emotion.
Harris is the artist of today, mixing his medium as carefully as the Old Masters mixed their hand-ground colors. Is this art? In my reality it is, but even if it’s not the conventional idea of art, it is certainly creativity.
Links–They all open in new windows
Word Count (Johnathan Harris lists, in order, the 86,800 most common words in the English Language. Take a look. Funny things: “God” is one word from ‘began,’ six words from ‘war.’
Fibonacci Sequence, also explains Golden Ratio
Flash illustration of Fibonacci Series (if you are in a hurry, but you have to have Flash)