Sunday, April 20, 2014

Math Awareness and Easter

Happy Spring! Finally all ice from Ithaca Falls is gone. Sasha Sagan wrote a beautiful essay about her father Lessons of Immoratsality and Mortality from my father, Carl Sagan. Very appropriate reading for today. In this essay she talks about The Sphinx Head House where they lived. You can see it in this picture right above the Ithaca Falls.
It is Easter Sunday - people celebrate spring and whatever religious meaning (including none) they have associated with this day.
Finding Easter date is math problem - Easter according to Christian Church calendar is on the first Sunday after first full moon after Spring Equinox.
The date of Easter is primarily used for liturgical purposes. Up to the 8th century AD there was no uniform method for determining the date of Easter but the method favoured by the Council of Nicaea in AD 325 gradually became the accepted method. The adoption of the Gregorian calendar necessitated some modifications to this scheme but it is still basically the same. More here.
Math is connected swith Easter Celebration in some other way too - it appears in Easter decorations. The most beautiful eggs are colored in Ukraine. Here is an example:

In 1974 Ukranian egg designs inspired Ron Resch to build World's largest Easter Egg - the first physical structure designed entirely with computer-aided geometric modelling software.
Saddly Ron Resch passed away in 2012 but here  is some more of his amazing geometry.

 Franc Grom has a different approach to "egg art":

There is even International Egg Art Guild.

I think that Egg Art goes very well together with April - Math Awareness Month. This year its theme is Mathematics, Magic, and Mystery. Lots of fun stuff opens up in this calendar each day of this month. Originally one of the days were for hyperbolic planes but in the course of preparation the board decided that they are not much fun.
That's OK, I am getting ready to fly to Riga where people are having fun with them and helping me to prepare a large project for the sho which will open in Riga this October.
Currently my works can be seen In Simons Center gallery in the exhibit Stitches together with mathematical quilts of Elaine Ellison and crocheted sculptures of Gabrielle Mayer.

Two empty pedestals are waiting for my two pieces which has to come from Berlin where they were exhibited.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Design Indaba 2014


One of the highlights from my recent trip to South Africa was Design Indaba exhibit. Cape Town this year is World's Capital of design, unfortunately most of the exciting events will be later this year but I was very happy to receive an invitation from one of exhibiting artists - Anna Richerby - to visit her booth and see the whole exhibit. I went there with another artist - Maria van Gass. This was the first time I met both artists. How? This is a wonder of hyperbolic crochet - it connects me with people all over the world. In 2012 Maria was the organizer of Woodstock Crochet Coral Reef project. When I was preparing to my trip to South Africa I contacted her via WARP Facebook page and we met in Cape Town. The grapewine led me to meet Anna - she had heard about my work years ago, and she herself makes geometric bead work, including hyperbolic jewelry, and her company is called Beloved Beadwork.
here we are both with Anna

Anna's work was exhibited together with two other artists and the booth was quite busy so unfortunately  I did not get a good shot of her work.

I was fascinated by fiber designs in the exhibit. These felted bowls, for example:
 There was a big interest around this working knitting machine that was producing wonderful knitted garments from South African mohair. I never heard about South African mohair, and was surprised that there is one. At +30C heat I was more thinking how to minimize layers I am wearing. But February in South Africa is late summer, and people are looking forward to autumn which can come with some cool wind (they were saying that weather turned cold when it was +20C after thunderstorm...Today in Ithaca it is white ground and -10C, that is cold, though not the coldest we had this winter...)

Today I could use some exercise to drive this Mohair Bicycle to get warm:
The fleece of Angora goat, mohair, dates back thousands of years to Tibetan Himalayas from were Angora originated. South African mohair has about two centuries long history. The founding of mohair industry in South Africa was a stroke of good luck. Turkish Sultan sent twelve infertile Angora rams and one ewe to South Africa in 1838. Unknown to Sultan ewe was pregnant and gave birth to ram kid thus establishing the breading stock. These days large flocks of Angora are farmed in Karoo region of South Africa. The next two pictures are examples of what The Mohair Bicycle can produce from the excellent South African Mohair.

It was nice to talk with some artists and see their design ideas whether they were geometry in jewelry, crochet designs,or unusual ceramics.
And finally - what would be a design exhi bit without fashion design? Some of it was quite unusual and provocative...;-)

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Rīga 2014 - Cultural Capital of Europe

I am honored to be a small part of the unprecedented program in my native city - in 2014 Riga is the Cultural Capital of Europe along with Umeo, Sweeden.
However my involvment with Riga2014 program started not in Riga but in Liepāja.
The day I visited Liepāja was sunny - as high as sun can get in Latvia around Winter Solstice :-)
I gave a talk about crocheted hyperbolic planes in New Media Lab, University of Liepaja.
Local newspaper gave a very positive review of this lecture here
I was also happy about an opportunity to visit Amatnieku Nams (House of Craftsmen) thanks to Laura Valdmanis -teacher fro US who is in Liepāja this academic year on Fulbright Stipend. Here I am with Laura in Liepāja at the longest amber necklace in the world - it is 123 m long and weighs 60 kg:
I also had a chance to touch two treasures more than 100 years old:

First half of January was spent to prepare for the grand opening Riga 2014 which was set for January 17-19. On January 17th new hall was opened in Nature Museum - Amber Hall. Amber experience starts already at the entrance with a large textile mosaic by Elina Veilande Apine "Reflexions", amber threads, linen, cotton, wood, plastic and acrylic beads, 137 cm x 188 cm.

In exhibit on second floor there are ambers from different parts of the world.

The largest one weighs 1.7 kg.
Amber threads are used in another textile piece:
There are many examples with the amber containing various insects, also some nice jewelry.

Natural Baltic Amber has unique properties unlike any other amber in the world. Famous Hippocrates (460-377 BC), father of medicine, in his works described medicinal properties and methods of application of Baltic amber that were later used by scientists until the Middle Ages. In ancient Rome Baltic amber was used as medicine and as a protection against different diseases. Calistratus famous physician of those times, wrote that amber protects from madness, powder of amber mixed with honey cures throat, ear and eye diseases and taken with water cures stomach illnesses. Pliny the Younger noted that Roman peasant women wore amber medallions not only as adornments, but also as a remedy for "swollen glands and sore throat and palate." Persian scientist Ibn Sina (Avicenna) called amber remedy for many diseases. There was a belief in eastern countries that amber smoke strengthens human spirit and gives courage. In Asian countries "amber syrup", a mixture of succinic acid and opium, was used as a tranquilizer and antispasmodic. (

This reflects also in this amber exhibit.
On January 18th I had to set up a little exhibit with my works and prepar for leading the workshop, so I missed Book Chain - move of books by human chain from old National Library building to the new one which will open later this year. Interesting program was happening in Riga Bus station - various musicians were performing classical music. I missed that too. But I at leasrt caught some of activities which were happening in Riga Central Market.
There were several stations in Meat Pavillion were people were simply telling their stories. It was interesting to listen, I just had time for few. Dairy Pavillion was dark - on its ceiling there were prjected old documentaries about Riga.
Fruit and Vegetable pavillion had radio stationed there.
In Fish Pavillion reknown chef was cooking fish dishes according ancient recipes. Line was too long for me to try. Instead I stopped at this fish place to buy some of my favorite fish - roasted lampries. And suddenly the guys next to fish seller dressed in the same uniforms started to sing Rīga Dimd - every Latvian will recognize it from the very first beats. 

It was absolutely amazing experience with people joining the choir "Kamēr.." whose singers were scattered all over the place among the sellers.Watch and listen Rīga Dimd in Central Market Fish Pavillion

My part in Riga 2014 will be an exhibit "Hyperbolic Planes and Sustainable Networks". January 18th I was leading the workshop to kick-off the start of the project - to create the network of crocheters which are linked through crocheting white hyperbolic planes which in September will be joined together to form one large installation.

These pictures are taken well before the start of the workshop. People filled the space - about 60 signed up but there were more than that who were interested. I will write about this project more later.
I missed World's Fire Sculpture Festival and many more events that day all around the city. But I am very happy I did not miss fireworks.
These were the most spectacular fireworks I have ever seen in presence. They were perfectly timed with music by Janis Lusens, specially written for this event. I recorded the very final moments when again you can recognize Riga Dimd beats. People who came earlier were standing by the river and here is a video with all beautiful reflections To experience all 12 min go here

I am so happy I can be a tiny part of this whole big event - Riga 2014.