Tuomas Nurmi

I'm fascinated by abstract absolutes. This time I set myself to capture the mystery of mathematics: the interplay of the finite and the infinite, the organized and the organic, the art strictly formal yet highly creative, the dynamic relationship of the absolute and the personal, of truth and beauty. I find the phoenix a powerful symbol of mathematics. The mythical firebird periodically sets itself on fire, just to born again from its own ashes. Like mathematics, its radiant beauty is only visible to those who choose to seek it. And like the phoenix, mathematics has been born again twice – after burning itself with infinity (with the Zeno's and Russell's paradoxes). As an artist I challenged myself to put all that in one single mosaic opus.

80 x 50 x 2 cm
Mosaic: iridescent and ceramic tiles on plywood.

The background is made of matte ceramic tiles. The phoenix shape is drawn in matching colors with iridescent glass tiles. Under some lighting conditions it is virtually invisible, under others it pops out. Hence several photos.
The hexagon is tiled freehand in a regular grid, a nod to the age-old tradition of doing mathematics by hand. The three sparks flying from the wing balance the hexagon both visually and thematically.

Mathematically this features two recent results. The colored pattern is a patch based on the Jeandel-Rao 11 Wang tile aperiodic set (2015), proven to be the smallest such set. The phoenix shape implements the Socolar-Taylor -monotile (2011) decorations, thus the hexagon itself defines an aperiodic tiling of its own.