Geometry and natural form

5-fold-radial-animation by ambigraph

“Look deep into nature, then you will understand everything.”
Albert Einstein

One of my visual (and musical) obsessions is repetition which manifests itself in an ongoing interest in natural form and pattern. Alongside nature, I’ve always found maths and science an important influence on my visual work. Recently, while working on some repeating radial patterns in Illustrator (see the animation above) I realised that a deeper understanding of geometry could help send this work in new directions.

In a synchronous occurrence, I was told about this course Geometry and the Order of Nature which I am starting next week. It is not only an exploration of geometric drawing, but also promises to give an insight into the geometry behind the natural world. In the Islamic tradition, geometry is seen as a study of nature and a way of developing a deeper understanding of it.

The underlying structure of organic form and pattern (what is called li in Chinese) has the fascinating property of self-similarity whereby similar forms manifest themselves in the structure of the universe from microscopic to macroscopic levels. The discovery of the Mandelbrot set gave us a deeper insight into this underlying structure.

This Arthur C. Clarke narrated documentary about Mandelbrot and fractal geometry is worth a watch.. ignore the noodling David Gilmour prog rock soundtrack and the gaudy coloured fractals, the explanation of the maths behind it is mind-boggling.

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