Hartmut F. W. Höft

Professor of Computer Science, emeritus
Eastern Michigan University
Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
When I encounter artistic expressions such as poetry, I not only attempt to find formulas for their combinatorial structure, but also abstract the essence of the written words into geometrical shapes, and visualize these shapes in two or three dimensions. With my images I hope to show the tension between strictly adhering to symmetry and the structural rules of poems on the one hand and breaking them to achieve an expressive or emotional outcome on the other. The first two images are based on the rhymes in cycles of sonnets; I transform their rhyme patterns into colored rectangular bands and unroll the patterns along a curve or project them onto a surface. The third image shows the structure of this surface through a portion of its mesh.
A trefoil of Rhymes in Rilke's Orpheus
50 x 50 cm
digital print on archival paper
2015
The rhyme patterns of the sonnets in "Die Sonnette an Orpheus" by Rainer Maria Rilke determine the coloring schema in this image. I made the band 28 strips wide by mirroring the rhyme pattern of the 14-line sonnets. Therefore, the color of the first rhyme sound is at both edges of the surface. I chose the trefoil for this visualization to express the entanglement of the three characters - Orpheus, Euridice & Hades - in the Greek myth to which Rilke alludes. The trefoil curve is defined by the parametric equation 2/3 * ( sin(3t), sin(t) + 2*sin(2t), cos(t) - 2*cos(2t) ) causing self-intersections when the rhyme pattern of each mirrored sonnet is drawn in the tangent-normal plane to the trefoil curve at the point where the sonnet is placed.
Parabolic Suspension Spindels in a Closed Spiral
50 x 50 cm
digital print on archival paper
2015
This image shows portions of two curve patterns - parabolas and closed spirals with winding number three - on a single surface. One is a collection of entire spirals at discrete values of the parabolic parameter. The other is a collection of parabolas that are attached at fixed parameter intervals along the spiral; each parabola lies in the horizontal plane of the point of attachment on the spiral. Though not immediately obvious from the equation of this surface, f(s, t) = ( cos(3t) cos(s), sin(3t) cos(2s), sin(t) ), the image shows degeneracy into points as well as self-intersection of the surface. In my imagination the surface curves in this image evoke tension spindels suspending a central band, all protected by a swirling spiral wall.