David Chappell

Professor of Physics
University of La Verne
La Verne, California, USA

Mathematical art gives me the opportunity to create my own universes. I design mathematical and computational rules to explore the production of complex spatiotemporal patterns. In some sense, I consider my art form to be the act of creating rules. Sometimes I adopt a “hands-off” approach and let my universe unfold undisturbed once the rules have been set in motion. Other times I meddle: fiddling, reordering, organizing. In either case, the aim of these explorations is to both generate aesthetically compelling compositions and to better understand the process of pattern formation in dynamical systems.

The Encounter
The Encounter
35 x 28 cm
Archival Digital Print

These computer-generated drawings are constructed through the action of a number of autonomous, line-drawing agents. The agents move through space, interacting through gravitational (inverse-square) forces. As each agent moves, it lays down a fabric composed of many undulating threads that rhythmically gather together and then expand apart. When two agents encounter one another, their paths become entwined, creating jagged, disjointed shapes. The dynamics of the agents exhibit chaos. The interlaced fabric paths are subject to random variations. The simulations explore the boundaries between scientific simulation, visual aesthetics, and mathematical algorithms.