For my 6th major Assignment and my 3rd Visualization Project for my Mathematics and Art class, I had to create either a tessellation using star shapes and related polygons, or create a tessellation inspired by the creations of M.C. Escher, the famous graphic artist, and designer. I chose to undergo the process of creating my own Escher tessellation and set about learning how to actually do it through the mathstat.slu.edu link provided to me and through other (less thorough) sources. After I spent several hours reading all the forms and types of Escher tessellations and how they could be created (by reflecting parts of figures against one another and creating negative space for a copy of the same figure, or a different figure entirely), I immediately got started on my tessellation using Adobe Illustrator to create my desired figures.
Being creative and all, I made the decision to add my own imaginative and personal touch to the Escher tessellation by trying to create shapes and figures that resembled or adhered to my interests, or topics that I find and have found fascinating and thus constitute the kind of person I am. Initially, I tried creating a complicated shape resembling some sort of hovercar or mythical beast and reflecting it across a kite template (form V, I think, on the Tesselations by Recognizable Figures guide), but then I found translating and reflecting these shapes a bit too difficult or confusing (mostly because I had forgotten to take into account the negative space– what would be left behind connecting sets of these shapes together). Struggling with the aforementioned negative space and gaps, I, after some thought, decided to create some sort of triangular alien starship as one of my figures, since it related to my long-held interest in aliens and UFOs– in science fiction and tales of alien visitations, conquests, and the like. A triangular shape, however, seemed far too simple and didn’t really leave room for creativity. Eventually, after a few more hours of thinking and fiddling around with some of the shape and effect tools on Illustrator, I randomly drew a shape resembling a steampunk-esque ship-submarine hybrid and repeated it across my Illustrator document in all sorts of orientations, forming negative spaces that, to my surprise, happened to look almost like the shape of a UFO and an eye or a satellite dish facing straight up. I had drawn the futuristic vehicle that I did mainly due to my love for steampunk and my adoration for large, colossal machinations in general. My love for UFOs and aliens, and sci-fi in general, resurfaced in the UFO negative space, and as for the eye or satellite dish, I immediately thought of SETI and our constant search for meaning, for life outside of our planet, for other worlds, and in general….answers to our existence.
The entire vibe of the Escher tessellation, when I had finished filling the negative space I mentioned before with a UFO shape, and the shape of an eye, truly encapsulated, in my view, my inquisitiveness, love for creative thought and looking beyond our mundane reality– my adoration for science fiction, and for exploring the unknown, the truly and utterly alien and abstract, the fantastically profound. Looking back on this entire visualization project, most of my decisions within the timespan of completing it were artistic in nature (since tessellations are related to math in the geometric as opposed to the numerical sense), such as what color to make my shapes, what shapes they should be etc., and, regarding my organizational principles, I often struggled to make sure every repeated figure in my project perfectly fit into the negative space between two other figures, or make sure no gaps could be found between any two shapes which is much harder on Illustrator than you may think)– so, in the end, I resolved these issues by carefully rotating, reflecting, and moving every figure I created towards straight angles or grouping an entire array of objects to make them easier to move and relocate. To me, the visualization project about Escher ultimately was not something merely artistic or mathematical– the project also had its own personal sentiment and value embedded within– a value and meaning that I found upon creating my figures.
Also, as a bonus: I only noticed this a few hours after completing my project– but if you look closely between any two steampunk ship figures, you’ll notice that its engines form the eyes of a seemingly tribal African face, complete with the pointy bottom of the UFO figure acting as a nose, its circular “dot” windows acting as markings or instances of tribal face paint, and a mouth created by the red top portions of the same UFO figure– all of which can be seen when the image is turned upside down. The pink and yellow eye adds to the mystical, ancient “ambiance” of the tessellation. I’m not sure what this juxtaposition between sci-fi, spiritualism, and out of all things, African or tribal mythology and culture means, but it suggests something about me, or at least an aspect of me that loves the mythologies and cultures of different peoples– their perspectives of the world and the Universe around them.
But I digress.
Without further ado, below is an image of my final project: