Craig Kaplan

Associate Professor
Cheriton School of Computer Science, University of Waterloo
Waterloo, Ontario

Most of my academic research concerns ways in which mathematical ideas and computer algorithms can be used to amplify the creative potential of humans. As much as it is a pleasure to articulate scientific discoveries via the standard medium of scholarly papers, it is more satisfying to test the value of my research by putting it to use in the creation of finished artworks. I am especially excited by opportunities to marry computer technology and hand crafting in a single piece. The result is a hybrid work that might be too difficult or tedious to construct by hand, but that could not simply emerge fully-formed from a computer at the press of a button.

Woven Islamic Star Pattern 1
24.5 cm x 24.5 cm
Cut paper

Most Islamic star patterns can be rendered in an interlaced style, wherein the pattern is decomposed into distinct strands, and each strand weaves alternately over and under the strands it crosses. If the pattern is periodic, then every strand is either a closed loop or a (conceptually infinite) piecewise polygonal path that repeats after some number of segments. In a series of works, I have explored the expression of finite pieces of interlaced star patterns in a literal form, using woven strips of paper. The strips are cut automatically using a digital craft cutter, but the paper must be carefully woven together by hand. The first example uses 20 copies of a single strip in two colours, woven to form a "star-and-cross" pattern. The second uses seven closed hexagons, together with a set of zig-zag strips of varying lengths. The physical act of weaving these works can help reinforce one's intuition for the mathematical structure of the underlying designs.

Woven Islamic Star Pattern 2
23 cm x 24.5 cm
Cut paper