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CONTOURED SURFACES

During the last few decades artists have experimented with new formats that attempt to project into the third dimension and these will be referred to as “contoured canvases”. The slashed and punctured canvases of Lucio Fontana are probably the earliest attempts at 3D projection on and with canvas. His contemporaries Piero Manzoni and Enrico Castellani constructed contoured canvases during the 1960’s and their work comes closest to the artistic techniques used in my work. My contoured surfaces most often begin with a specially built rectangular frame that has a rib or ribs projecting into the third dimension. When canvas is stretched over such a frame it acts like an elastic membrane and takes on the shape of a minimal surface that is constrained by the frame and ribs. The resulting surface can be made to have aesthetic appeal and this can be augmented with paint, sewing, padding, pleating, and local twisting.

Water waves have been depicted by painters and sculptors for centuries and have been studied because of their ubiquitous nature by mathematicians and scientists. These apparently disparate disciplines see a common beauty in the form of waves but express their observations in different ways. Waves are most often viewed as a sequence, in time and space, of individual waves much like the mathematician’s sine wave. A single wavelet would be termed a “soliton” by a mathematician. A soliton is a single wave moving in a narrow channel such as an irrigation ditch and caused by, say, the rapid closing of a gate. No matter how they are viewed, collectively or in isolation, painted, sculpted, or mathematically described, waves are beautiful! I have used a contoured canvas to depict this beauty and the result can be seen by clicking on the Soliton example below. Selected others can be seen by clicking on the various icons.