James Mai

Professor of Art
Illinois State University
Normal, Illinois, USA
Much of my work involves generating sets of forms by systematically varying some geometric features of a basic shape. My goal is to produce "minimum-complete form-sets", which are comprised of all possible forms permissible by the combinatoric processes, minus any individual forms that repeat another by reflection or rotation. Recent work includes "loop-forms", which are made of closed curves that connect, in varying sequences, 3 points on each of 4 radii of a circle. These loops orbit the circle's center 1, 2, or 3 times. Although loop curves need not contact all points, no point may be contacted more than once by any curve. Loop-forms may be either simple (a single loop) or compound (2 or 3 independent loops).
Bouquet (loop-forms, 3-orbit)
20 x 20 cm
digital inkjet print
2017
This composition contains the complete set of simple 3-orbit loop-forms, each of which is a continuous closed curve that contacts all 12 points (3 on each of 4 radii) in a different sequence. Each of the 65 loop-forms is unique, but color and scale indicate shared symmetry characteristics: 15 blue forms have 1-axis symmetry; 3 yellow forms have 2-axis symmetry; 2 pink forms are strictly rotational; the 45 smaller, red and red-orange forms are asymmetrical. All loop-forms are distributed on a 3,3,4,3,4 tessellation pattern; the sizes of the forms are determined by the incircles of tessellating squares (larger circles) and triangles (smaller circles).
Sojourns (loop-form, 1211+2332+3123)
20 x 20 cm
digital inkjet print
2017
This loop-form is from the complete set of 46 compound 1+1+1-orbit loop-forms, each of which possesses 3 independent 1-orbit loops. In the complete form-set, 33 loop-forms possess either reflective or strictly rotational symmetry, and 13 loop-forms are asymmetrical. This artwork uses one of the asymmetrical loop-forms to examine simultaneous color contrast, whereby each colored line crosses into different color regions on the background circle and appears to change its identity along the way (darker or lighter, warmer or cooler, brighter or duller).