Emergent Nets: Optical Sutras

The exhibition “Emergent Nets: Optical Sutras” comprises a three types of artworks, works on paper, works on aluminium, and textile pieces. The pieces all share a common structure in being based on geometries which have been discovered in the late 20th century and early 21st century, including many discovered by the artist is the course of this artistic/ geometric research. The title of the series and exhibition combines two concepts – Emergence, and Sutras.

In philosophy and systems theory, Emergence occurs when “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts,” meaning the whole has properties its parts do not have. These properties come about because of interactions among the parts. Emergence plays a central role in theories of integrative levels and of complex systems. For instance, the phenomenon of life as studied in biology is an emergent property of chemistry.

The Sanskrit word Sūtra means “string or thread”. The root of the word is siv, that which sews and holds things together and is related to sūnā meaning “woven”. In literature, sūtra means a distilled collection of syllables and words, an aphorism, rule or direction, hanging together like threads with which the teachings of ritual, philosophy, grammar, or any field of knowledge can be woven.

These artworks similarly, are composed by following short geometric rules that weave together to create an optical effect, to make a “kasina” – a Buddhist term for a visual object of meditation. The result is a complex net, path or structure, which has emerged by following a series of rules or procedures, and which possess variable beautiful effects which are revealed only at particular distances from the work. The details appear to be important, but they exist only to embody the system. The closer you get, the less meaning there is, while the further away you stand, the easier it is to comprehend.

The Emergent Net series are not only perceptual art, exploring visual phenomena, they are also intended to inspire philosophical contemplation. The winding paths, hidden patterns, and ordered complexity prompt musings on the nature of the cosmos and our challenge to see it clearly.

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