My interest in the Nets project relates to the potential for geometric nets – a term for 2D figures which folded along their vertices to form a 3D forms – to be seen as a form of scientific encoding of the natural world. An example I have been working with is the description of the ideal structure of minerals and other elements as geometric nets: as polyhedra and correlated mathematical formulas.
My PhD project within the Textiles Workshop at ANU investigates processes of inscription and translation in relation to scientific representations of the natural world and how these might contain potential for new ways to ‘read’ nature outside those intended by science. I am interested in instances where nature is represented as a code, pattern, numeral and formula as the starting point for both my studio and written research to explore what James Elkins has described as the ‘cascade of successive abstractions that propel scientific images away from the chaos of phenomena and into and interminable sequence of quantified ‘traces’’, such as diagrams, samples, graphs and notations.’ My research focuses on trying to understand how these processes of scientific visualisation might mediate, and even shape, our contemporary understanding of the natural world.
I have been particularly drawn to cases where science has attempted to understand natural phenomena by reducing it to its smallest units – the protein signifiers C, A, G and T of DNA, molecules, atoms, elements and so on. From these fundamental units, larger entities are formed; like a code, they can be configured and reconfigured to represent larger ‘things’ and an infinite number of variations. This has also included instances where natural phenomena has been described as mathematical patterns – formulae, algorithms, geometry – such as those used in crystallography.
In my art practice I have looked for visual analogies to explore these process and ideas and have made use of repeatable elements such as editioned prints, stencils, photocopies and, more recently, textiles ‘units’ such as the knitted or embroidered stitch.
Current work uses as its starting point scientific visualisations of various micro’ and macro-level geological forms: from mathematical analyses of mineral and other crystal structures to the colour and pattern codes of geological survey maps.
I have been exploring these forms via knitting, needlepoint and a series of drawings using a drawn mark based on the knitted stitch, again employing these repeatable single units as an analogy for scientific/mathematical codes of replication. Both the actual knits and, to a certain extent, the ‘drawn knits’ have a fantastic stretchiness; this allows the form described to have, or to allude to, a mutable, elastic quality, creating a form with uncertain boundaries, which seems to defy mathematical attempts to identify and pin down a predictable formulas.