Phil Webster

Phil Webster Design
Pittsfield, MA

All of my work stems from one core impulse: to celebrate the inherent beauty of mathematical forms. These forms appear all around us—in trees and crystals, in dunes and flowers, in ancient temples and modern skyscrapers. Rather than directly depict these outer manifestations, I explore the abstract forms underlying it all—polyhedra, fractals, tessellations, lattices. There is something sacred in the creation and viewing of these forms that allows me to meditate on the infinite patterns present in the deep structure of our world.

Since traveling to India in 2012, I have been particularly focused on blending traditional Islamic motifs with polyhedra and fractals. The results are distinctly Islamic in flavor but with a modern twist.

Starburst II
20" x 20"
digital print on aluminum

Starburst II is a member of my ongoing Fractal Islamic Patterns series in which I explore arranging traditional Islamic motifs in highly non-traditional, fractal patterns, as detailed in my Bridges 2013 paper.

This piece features the ten-fold rosette commonly found in Islamic art and architecture. The rosettes are positioned with their centers at the nodes of a fractal tree structure, then rotated, scaled, and connected to create the complete pattern. Gradated shading along with printing onto sheet aluminum give create the illusion of a back-lit glow, drawing viewers' eyes stirongly into the center. The overall impression is of an outwardly expanding explosion, or an inwardly contracting tunnel, depending on the viewer and angle.

Cubes Unbound I
4" x 8" x 8"
3D printed plaster composite

This work is part of my 19 Cubes series which explores variations in the geometry of a ring of 19 cubes, with corners pointing up.

This first work was designed to demonstrate the ability of 3D printing to produce objects which are interlocking but non-intersecting from their inception. By carefully choosing strut width, rotation angle around the z-axis, and distance from the ring center, I was able to create an arrangement of 19 cubes such that each interlocks the next without touching any others. A custom pedestal holds the cubes in their original upright position, but as shown in the photo, the cubes are completely independent, forming a complete 19-link chain. The gradual rainbow coloring emphasizes the continuous nature of the chain.

Cubes Bound II
4" x 8" x 8"
3D printed plaster composite

Starting from Cubes Unbound I, I created this work by maintaining the cubes' vertical orientation and z-axis rotation, but moving all the cubes inward towards the center until the struts perfectly intersect. Instead of an interlinked chain, the ring now becomes one solid object with a surprising, complicated topology.

Each cube is still separate from, but interlocked with, its immediate neighbors; its linkages are to the cubes TWO to either side. Since the cubes are connected every other one, one must go around the circle twice before returning to the first cube. The rainbow colors are applied to the cubes in the order that they connect to each other, demonstrating the unusual, double-nested topology of the ring.