• October 12, 2016

Masaimatical — Ongoing (origin 1996). Dimensions variable; originating size, 10.5 x 5′. Acrylic and collage on aluminum panels, nuts, bolts. See Images below for numerous configurations.

This project was a large painting in the form of a Masai shield comprised of mathematical formulae and graphs.  Lines and curves from the math graphs replicate or echo the shapes on the shield. (I woke up from sleep with the painting fully formed in my head; it was a dream leap, not a logical linear trek to the idea. Glyphs, calligraphy, graffiti, heiroglyphs, symbols, crop circle shapes and other ‘shapes = data’ often show up in my work).

126 x 60", edge remixed. Acrylic on aluminum.
A tectonic arrangement of the work, with 2 columns shifted

Maasai shields denote information about the holder — for example, a wavy line drawn on the front might mean that the bearer ‘lives near the river’. That same wavy line, however, would mean ‘y(t)=Asin(2πft+φ)ytAsin2πftφ’ to a mathematician (a sin wave function). This is the key to the work: a single shape that conveys very different sets of information across culture and time, to different readers according to their background or experience. In a way this parallels the construction of the painting,  which is a singular image on a finite set of panels, but which, rearranged in different ways, reads completely differently to viewers. One remix of this work was seen  as a canoe; another recombination was interpreted by the viewer as a kirpan (a ceremonial knife carried by Sikhs); another saw a version as depicting a video game character; none of them knew they were looking at an iteration of the work, not its original state.   Other reconfigurations of this work had similarities to kites, which have existed in China, India, Japan and other countries for over a thousand years, and a future remix will reference the Large Hadron Collider. So, somehow, embedded in this work is information that crosses borders of time and place.)


This underscores my feeling that the  universe is constructed from information that our brains intrepret as reality, much like how computer code creates a video game world.  This opens the possibility that different people may interpret the underlying information differently, and that person is experiencing their own unique universe. (One sees a river, one sees a wave. Both are simultaneously right.)

I also use information, or text, formulae, data, etc, as a way of slow reveal over time. Because of the volume of words or images in some of the larger works, it might take years to notice a detail, a phrase, or embedded pun, discovered like an Easter egg. Words also underscore the mutable nature of a lot of my work, and the invitaiton of viewer’s creative involvement, physical or mentally  — for example the word ‘Blue’ could be be visualised hundreds of different ways by as many different people.

As with other works in this series, panels, columns, rows, and sections can be rearranged to deconstruct the painting and give it new form. The work can also be intermixed with other works, so that it becomes a megacollage, and when spliced with separately conceived works, accretes new meanings.

A future work will be divided into sections and sold to different buyers across the world. In order to ever show the work ‘whole’, agreements and negotiations will have to be done globally. It would be interesting to divide one painting across as many owners as possible, in as many places as possible — one owner each in 35 countries, say, for this work — so that it becomes a community effort to bring it together.

(See the work spliced with others last image below, and also in a huge remix HERE)

12' x 6' x 6'. Acrylic on aluminum.
A ‘distributed’ version of the sculpture

The work as DNA, ready to be genetically modified.

The painting, before phase changes

shield mockup remix 4b
An ‘atomized’ version of the painting.

Shield condensed
The suitcase version of the work, ready for traveling or plinth placement

Masaimatical spliced in Staccatorest
Masaimatical spliced with the painting Staccatorest.