Sculptures that are both mesmerizing and mathematical

John Edmark’s sculptures are both mesmerizing and mathematical. Using meticulously crafted platforms, patterns and layers, his art explores the seemingly magical properties that are present in spiral geometries. In his most recent body of work Edmark creates a series of animating blooms that endlessly unfold and animate as they spin beneath a strobe light.

TRANSCRIPT

JOHN EDMARK SCULPTURE'S ARE BOTH MESMERIZING AND MATHEMATICAL.

USING METICULOUSLY CRAFTED PLATFORMS, PATTERNS AND LAYERS, HIS ART EXPLORES THE SEEMINGLY MAGICAL PROPERTIES THAT ARE PRESENT IN SPIRAL GEOMETRIES.

IN HIS MOST RECENT BODY OF WORK EDMARK CREATES A SERIES OF ANIMATING BLOOMS THAT ENDLESSLY UNFOLD AND ANIMATE AS THEY SPIN BENEATH A STROBE LIGHT.

OUR PARTNER SCIENCE FRIDAY BRINGS US THE STORY.

I'm sometimes asked.

Why am I sort of so intrigued with spirals?

What is it about spirals?

And I think part of the answer is that I just find them beautiful.

But I think spirals also make reference to the fact that you can never return to the same place again and that nothing ever does truly repeat it goes infinitely small and it goes infinitely large.

It's endless.

And you know we sort of don't know where we came from and we don't know where we're going.

And we're just sort of this you know this this piece of that larger picture.

I'm John Mark.

I'm an artist designer and inventor and I teach at Stanford University.

I don't think of myself as a sculptor.

Clearly the works are sculptures of sorts but in a sense that's a coincidence.

They're just a medium that I'm using to ask and answer questions that I'm interested.

The driving motivation of my work is a search for unusual behaviors things that that are not intuitive that maybe seem impossible math has a kind of precision and a way of clarifying relationships that allows me to achieve some of these behaviors and patterns that I'm trying to create.

I was working with an essentially flat puzzles.

I noticed that that perimeter never changed shape it just changed in scale as you added more pieces and that then led to the notion of stacking these one on top of the other and rotating them relative to each other to cause these patterns to appear in the form of sort of plateaus that can move up and down the tower.

And I'm rotating it each time I'm rotated 137.5 degrees the golden angle which is based on the Golden Ratio.

The golden ratio is the ratio where the smaller is to the larger as the larger is to the whole and ends up this is a very powerful generative ratio.

Anytime you create a pattern using the golden angle you're going to end up with spirals appearing.

And it's actually been shown mathematically to be the best way to distribute leaves on a stem to minimize overlap.

Say a leaf or a pedal or a seed gets put out here.

The next one will get put out 137 degrees around over here and the next one then gets put out hundreds and over here and around and around and around places and places these.

And when that's done in that fashion you end up getting these kinds of very evenly distributed seed heads.

But the spirals are actually a symptom of this process of placing each bud 137 degrees around from the previous bud.

When I was wanting to demonstrate this transforming nature of the towers I decided to animate them and when I animated it I was surprised to discover that not only did it show plateaus appearing and disappearing but there were.

There was this very strong sense of continuity of the plateaus moving down the tower or up the tower.

About five years later I suddenly realized oh what if I just keep on rotating the entire tower not just them not just the next level.

In fact blooms are a direct descendant of a multi-year long sequence and explorations on these golden angled spiral geometry studies.

I call them Bloom's because they tend to have a sense of blossoming, opening, expanding to them as they animate.

When a bloom is animating it's endless.

If a plant can grow forever it would kind of be doing that blooming behavior forever.

The first thing I do is I have to create the structure for it.

And that is of course based on using the golden angle.

So I place where the elements are going to be and then I shape those elements.

Depending on what I want the behavior to be.

I will I will then animate them making and expand making them rotate.

Blooms can be filmed in two ways.

You can actually run a strobe that is synchronized to the cameras filming right for you if you set the camera to use in a very short shutter speed.

It will behave effectively like a stroll because the elements of the bloom are essentially frames of an animation.

If the frames aren't exactly aligned you're going to get a non-smooth flow.

The kind of the distortions and work that you see happening are a result of me slightly breaking the rule of rotating by the golden angle and so they're moving back and forth in terms of hovering around that angle and that causes them to have this kind of kind of warped distorted effect.

I think my work is most successful when it evokes a sense of wonder when it sort of seems to be magical.

What I'm trying to achieve in my work is something that will evoke that in somebody else that they'll say Wow what's going on there.

How's that possible?