Mark Stock

Freelance Artist
Newton, MA, USA

All of my work depicts imaginary scenes that derive their complexity from the deceptively simple behavior of large numbers of independent actors/agents/particles/elements. The rules governing the action of each element are often based on primary natural and physical forces and can be described in a single mathematical statement or a few lines of code. Alone, each element emits a trivial and boring solution, like a single star floating motionless in space. Together, though, these elements create massively-complex galaxies of shapes and forms inspired by, and reflecting, the natural origin of their rules. This is the way of computational science: to break complex, real problems up into many smaller and easily solvable problems such that the ensemble predicts the behavior of the real system. That was my education, and it is now the source of my artwork.

Magma 19
24"x20" framed
Archival inkjet print on paper

Meant to evoke the deep, hot underbelly of the Earth, "Magma 19" depicts a virtual flow of red-hot molten magma and nearby cooler rock. The immense detail in the plumes, ebbs, and eddies create many tiny fluid landscapes across the entire piece. The image was created using a two-dimensional computational fluid dynamics algorithm, which evolves the initial form according to the vorticity transport equation. Because this simulation is based on physics, familiar shapes and patterns emerge in the system as warmer media rises, boundaries become unstable, vortices dissipate, and emergent structures exchange energy.

Wave For Hokusai
16"x24" framed
Archival inkjet print on paper

This work is a tribute to the Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai, whose woodblock print "The Great Wave off Kanagawa" (c. 1829-32) is not only one of the most-recognized pieces of Japanese art, but is also appreciated by turbulence researchers as an early representation of the "turbulent cascade" of energy from large to small scales. The work was created by tracking and simulating the motion of a vortex sheet in three dimensions using comptational physics algorithms. In the ensuing simulation, wave-like structures emerged at a variety of scales. Visualizing these wave forms without perspective or other depth cues accentuates the barrier between the real and the simulated.