Craig Kaplan

Associate Professor
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.

16 cm x 14 cm

I am fascinated by the aesthetic of Glitch Art, in which JPEG images are corrupted at the bit level in order to produce unpredictable distortions in colour and form. I have been contemplating whether there could exist a geometric analogue of Glitch, in which a vector image would be distorted at a geometric level to produce a similar visual experience. I felt that the blatantly technological distortion would be a good fit for the warm, organic look of wooden parquetry, and that a Zellij-style Islamic star pattern would lead to a sense of distressed geometric perfection. The design is formed from laser-cut tiles of walnut, bass, and obeche.

Flattened Sphere
15 cm x 15 cm

In this piece, a spherical Islamic star pattern has been flattened down to a disc, and the projected faces have been rendered as a parquetry design in laser-cut walnut, bass and obeche. Although the core crafts of Islamic geometric patterns and parquetry are ancient and well understood, this piece would have been difficult to produce without the aid of computer technology. Every tile has a unique projected shape, with sides formed from elliptical arcs that must meet perfectly. The laser cutter provides an essential bridge between a virtual preview on a computer screen and the physical world.