A Tasty Geometric Morsel Every Day

I don’t remember how I first found Geometry Daily. Probably through Twitter. Every day German graphic designer Tilman Zitzmann posts a “new minimal geometric composition.” It’s not exactly a math blog, but I think many mathematicians will, like me, find the designs beautiful and interesting.

"#247 Bubbles." Image copyright Tilman Zitzmann. Used with permission.

#247 Bubbles. Image copyright Tilman Zitzmann. Used with permission.

Tilman generally presents the designs with little comment, other than whatever you choose to read into their titles. But in a post he published in April, he wrote a little bit about the project. He started the idea in late 2011 when he was taking time off of work to take care of his kids but wanted to keep one foot in the designing world. He has created well over 450 designs so far, and he plans to go at least until he gets to number 500.

#392 Binocular interference. Image copyright Tilman Zitzmann. Used with permission.

#392 Binocular interference. Image copyright Tilman Zitzmann. Used with permission.

Of his inspiration, Tilman wrote: “Sometime in spring I had an epiphany: It’s not really ME creating beautiful geometric graphics. The beauty is already THERE, in the way geometry works.… It feels like geometry has only a small set of rules, yet these create so much complexity that we will never be able to see even a small fraction of what is possible.”

(As a side note, that last sentence sounds like a paraphrase of something Amie Wilkinson said in a joint interview I did with her and Laura DeMarco: “I realized that with math there were so many things I could imagine that I would never know. That’s why I wanted to go back and do math. I love that feeling of this infinite horizon.” You can read the full interview on my blog Roots of Unity. It was also mentioned on quomodocumque, where it spurred an interesting conversation in the comments.)

It’s fun to look through the Geometry Daily archives and notice similarities between designs published around the same time. Tilman seems to have had a hexagon phase in the 320’s, and you can definitely see the designs getting more complex but also more polished as he goes on. He wrote a bit about how exactly he creates the images in August 2012. The backgrounds are photographs of paper to create a more “real” look. “I want the shapes to look like the viewer could relate to them. Feel the texture of the canvas and the printed surfaces. Walk around the image, even if it is just two-dimensional.”

#426 Tectonic Activity. Image copyright Tilman Zitzmann. Used with permission.

#426 Tectonic Activity. Image copyright Tilman Zitzmann. Used with permission.

I love art that is directly based on a mathematical concept, such as David Chappell’s Meander series, but part of what makes Tilman’s pieces so compelling to me is that he isn’t constrained by the need for mathematical meaning. He makes pictures that “look like” math without trying to illustrate a concept explicitly. As a result, the viewer can look at them in an open-ended way without needing to figure out what each one “means.”

Geometry Daily has been turned into a temporary art exhibition, and Tilman has both silkscreen and digital prints of his images available for purchase. (I promise I wasn’t paid to add that link. I just think they would look nice in a mathematician’s office.) If you don’t already “read” Geometry Daily, you should add it to your Google Reader replacement of choice. It will add virtually no time to your blog perusal, and it’s a breath of fresh, geometric air.

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1 Response to A Tasty Geometric Morsel Every Day

  1. YNW says:

    I appreciate the time that you take to post math from around the world.

    I have had no luck in anybody understanding where I am coming from with my math and, or art.

    Instead of getting discouraged, I hope that maybe you would take time to give me any insight.


    Thanks for your time,

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