The Intersection of Art & Science

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)

Quinn McDonald loves the interplay of different planes in life. She has a newsletter and another blog in another world.


4 thoughts on “The Intersection of Art & Science

  1. I absolutely loved this spinning balls site. Magic. And the fact it has utility as well makes it even more impressive,

    The eternal divide between the arts and the sciences. No-one will come to heal the rift?


  2. I illustrate the vitality of Phi (Golden Ratio) in the transition of knowledge, including the propensit fotr magick, searching you past and decision making in my book “Phinominal Propengicks” — somehow I thought you had a copy — if not, let me know and I can send you an E-mail version


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