Joan Waltemath

New York, New York, USA

In the late 80s I began to investigate algorithms as a way to allow for consequent decisions when working with geometric forms. I was looking for correspondences between the body and the environment, for a way of enhancing the potential for proportional relationships to create spatial harmony. Using intervals based on the numeric code I discovered in the cross patterns of liturgical vestments of orthodox icons, I developed a harmonic grid to use as an underlying structure for my paintings. As geometry it’s quite simple and uses the relationship between the side of a square and its diagonal as its armature.

I’ve always gravitated to geometry as a language that has the capacity to span from the ancient to the digital. When I found this quote on the Vilém Flusser archive ( ) I was happy to read something so beautifully articulated that spoke to my intention in choosing harmonic ratios as a basis for my work.

Vilém Flusser believed that we have entered a transitional period between historical and post-historical thinking. Linear thinking—based on writing and essential to history—is about to be put aside by a new form of thinking that is much more complex, multi-dimensional and visual, based on algorithms, and inspired by systems theory and chaos theory. As the image was suited to the pre-historical period and writing to the historical period, so the numerical code (and its visualization) is suited to the coming post-historical period. Digitally-computed information reflects the character of the coming time, just as writing, from the Bible to Ulysses, reflected the character of the epochs of historical thinking and feeling.

I’ve always been fascinated by the relation between a surface and what is underneath it, looking towards what is accountable for its undulations and annunciations. Whether that means appearances in the life world or in a planar dimension, the visible or the invisible, or code and program, the relationship between levels—what is on the surface and what is underneath—is one of my primary interests.

Within this simple yet complex relationship I find I can touch upon any number of subjects that run analog to my geometric constructions. It is this metaphorical space that opens up a thought room and allows for a sustained engagement with my work.

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