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Grotto of Madness ll

Grotto of Madness ll

Tessellation, 1996

Grotto of Madness evolved organically. With each pass, it kept unfolding. Normally I use a mirror to quickly determine where to place the seam of symmetry. This time, the angles kept changing. There were too many combinations to hold in my mind at one time. I found myself trying successive combinations on the computer. It could hold them all in memory simultaneously. I could return to each combination individually, compare them together, shift to another, or go back to the first. The image kept coming and going. One variation unfolded after the other. There seemed to be no limit to the number of combinations that were possible.

The process reminded me of fractal geometry, where equations are solved by successive iteration. The value generated by the first solution is placed back into the same equation, generating a new solution. The process is repeated endlessly. Over time patterns emerge. New orders are discovered.

Successive symmetries coalesced kaleidoscopically. While subtle shifts in the dividing line usually produce marked transformations in the character of the patterns created, in this instance the transformations were dramatic. There was no one clear choice. When one symmetry is created, a single decision is made and a single possibility is revealed. Here many decisions and many possibilities cohabit the same space. The flow of both space and time are disrupted.

The originally open composition kept closing in on itself. This seemed to be a primary decision, whether to create an open or a closed space. “Why not both?” I thought. As with simultaneous contrast in color, side-by-side one would play against the other, synergistically reinforcing each other. Exit was first allowed and second denied.

I was building a space. It was clearly architectural. It was vaulted and soaring. It had the quality of a cathedral. It was dizzying in complexity and perspective. Are we looking out past carved niches through arched windows or are we looking up at a mosaic ceiling into the empyrean? It had no ground. How deep, how wide was the space? It felt like it could continue forever. One could imagine the echoes and the winds that rushed through the space. It was like an organ. It was visual music with a mathematical substructure.

It was organic. The soft pink sandstone already had the quality of flesh. Portions looked like slices of a biological specimen. It was richly varied with clearly articulated structures. It had folds, crevices, protuberances, openings and closings, masses enclosing inner spaces. It had a thousand skins like an onion, a thousand eyes like a potato, a thousand arms and legs like a millipede. It was no longer mere dirt. It moved energetically. It multiplied.

Who knew what lay hidden within the original landscape? Can you find the original landscape? It’s there.
Who knows what lies hidden in this new landscape? I continually see new things.