James Mai

Professor of Art
WK School of Art, Illinois State University
Normal, Illinois, USA

My recent work has focused on the combinatoric development of conjunction-forms. These are comprised of three circles in combinations of proximity (nearby, but not touching), tangency (edges contacting at one point), and/or intersection (edges overlapping at two points). Each three-circle conjunction-form is labeled by the contact-points of its constituent two-circle relationships. For example, three adjacent circles in horizontal alignment (A, B, C, left to right) is described as 1,1,0: A tangent to B (1 point), B tangent to C (1 point), C proximate to A (0 points). There are 200 distinct conjunction-forms, from which subsets are selected for artworks. Color and composition reveal structural similarities and differences among the forms.

36 x 36 cm
digital inkjet print

The 21 conjunction-forms in this artwork include proximate-only (green), tangent-only (red), and two kinds of proximate-and-tangent combinations: those with one proximity and two tangencies (blue), and those with one tangency and two proximities (orange). These conjunction-forms occur in four different combinations of diameters: (1) three equal-diameter circles; (2) one smaller and two larger circles (the smaller circle is always enclosed by a larger circle); (3) one larger an two smaller circles (both smaller circles are always enclosed by the larger); (4) one large, one medial, and one small circle (the three circles are always nested). For visual comparisons, similar forms are located either nearby or diametrically opposite one another.