Thursday, April 24, 2008

quick update

I've been a little slow to update this blog, as I've been distracted by a number of things, but I thought I would drop in a quick update and an announcement.

First, the announcement. My band, Memory Selector, is playing a show next Saturday, May 3rd at Intermedia Arts in Minneapolis. The show will be a part of Bent Festival, a three day long festival centered around circuit bending. If you don't know what circuit bending is, then thats all the more reason to come check it out!

Below is the latest version of the tattoo design. I have added some detail to the eye, and have made the edges of the polygons more pronounced. I was originally trying to create a 3D effect with shadows, making each polygon appear to be below the polygon containing it. The result almost looks like beveled glass... perhaps I will go for more of a stained glass appearance. This is still developing.

I've been working on some techniques for making flames, which are kind of a pain in the ass. That might take some doing, as I am no design pro. But I have a few ideas, we'll see.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

first pass

My first attempt at designing my geometrically themed creation myth tattoo went relatively well. This version is a little outdated, as I have since worked on it a few times, but I just wanted to document each step so that the progression of ideas and designs is explicit over time.

A few notes on the design. First, I have colored each of the seven polygons with a color from the spectrum we love to call ROY G BIV. This is symbolic of the diffraction of white light into the colors of the rainbow, which make the material world visible. These are vibrant colors, indicating a lively physical embodiment of abstractions.

The other obvious element I have included is the eye in the center of the triangle. This represents, at the base of the unfolding corporeal universe, an awareness that generates and sustains it. It is at the center of the design, and at the most basic level of the world of polygons. This is very much a nod to a favorite artist of mine, Alex Grey. Eyes of awareness are ubiquitous through his work. In fact, his work coupled with that of my good friend Michael Una, are perhaps the two most primary influences on this piece.

Compared to the original image that inspired this (see post below), a few things are different. For instance, I have included only two of the circles out of which the polygons emerge, and I have excluded the lines of projection. Using only two circles gives the image a little more economy, but it also leaves it a little unbalanced. Future designs will possibly bring these circles back in or leave them out again, as I experiment and decide which option seems to be the best overall embodiment of the theme.

Also, I have left out the projection lines, which leaves a little mystery in the relationship of the objects and the construction. My friend Heather would like to see the lines that determine the vertices incorporated somehow, perhaps implied through panels of color in each polygon, suggesting a stained glass window. I will experiment with this and compare results.

Also, my friend Matt would like to see some flames and perhaps some tentacles, to make it more awesome. These are ideas I will also play with.

Since I already have an even more up-to-date version of my design, I should have another post relatively soon.

And in response to Mr. Una’s comment on my first post – I’m not really sure when I will be able to afford getting inked, so I’m taking my time here. I will get an estimate so that I can project a timeline, though.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


I've always been a little hesitant to get a tattoo, considering how permanent a tattoo is—it's a big commitment to an idea. But, I've always held in the back of my mind that I would get one when inspired by something meaningful that I could design myself. That time has finally come, and I am going to share the process in several installments in this blog. This entry will document the inspiration for the design and the symbolism and ideas related to creating my first piece of body art.

Anybody who knows me is well aware of my affinity for math and geometry. I will attempt explain this as best as possible here, and as succinctly as possible. While I believe most people think of mathematics as a purely utilitarian and pragmatic tool (and I agree that it is successful to an unparalleled degree in this regard), few people acknowledge the intrinsic beauty held in mathematical equations and relationships. There is something very visceral to me about the exactitude and the precision that mathematics captures, and visually, it can be quite stunning. Geometry in particular is very resonant with me in this way, as it can be represented in a visual display of relationships that is a little less abstract than just formulae or statements.

In addition to being the king of sciences, mathematics (specifically geometry) was used for other, more symbolic purposes by philosophers and spiritualists for quite some time before totally coming into its own.

While I won't get into too many details here, suffice it to say that the image of the circle has been used as a symbol for the overall unity of the universe (with its singular center and infinitely-pointed circumference), and that two overlapping circles represent the division of this unity into the dual, polar opposites that we experience in life. Out of these relationships (i.e. the division of the unity into the duality), the rest of the variegated objects and experiences that occur in life arise.

Now, these are just stories that are told with geometry. They compose a creation myth made out of shapes, out of pure abstractions—which is really incredible, if you think about it. And, like all myths, it points to some kind of truth about life, about being a person and relating to the world. The image below is from a book by Robert Lawlor, titled "Sacred Geometry: Philosophy and Practice". The book itself is full of new-agey stuff about Neoplatonists, some of which I find interesting and some of it is a little bit over-reaching. None-the-less, this image captures this myth almost perfectly. I discovered it while borrowing this book from a girlfriend in college. I created a painting based on this image in college also, but that was lost (read: thrown away) in a custody battle with a landlord, and I have always wanted to recreate it.

While the intersecting lines make it a little confusing, it is kind of astounding how interesting of an image is made from just a compass and a straightedge (not even a ruler is needed, the compass is the only measurement of distance necessary!). Essentially, all of the points necessary to create regular polygons with 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, and 12 sides can be projected out of intersecting circles. (As an exercise, you can pick out one of the vertices and trace back where they are projected from – for instance, many of the 10-gon vertices originate from the pentagon, since 5 is exactly half of 10).

This is the seed of my idea. It is the basis for the creation myth that I will make my own, and embed into my own body. It contains references to the beauty of mathematics and the physical universe, the creation of those things, and ultimately, the ground out of which they arise – universal consciousness. It will also contain references to friendship, things that are awesome, and other inspirational artists that reflect spirituality in their work. These ideas will be integrated into this design and documented as this series of installments progresses.