Every time I look at mathematical descriptions or graphs pertaining to theories in physics, I am filled with curiosity to understand them as they unravel secrets of the cosmos. Though I enjoyed the challenge of the math, it was graphs and diagrams that were an important part of my learning process in school and college in a pre-internet era. I would struggle to grasp concepts when there were no images and I would desperately search for books with pictures. Many years later I realized that I was predominantly a visual learner, and images helped me understand and retain information, and that colored ones were better than black and white. Doodling during class was another way to be able to focus my mind on the lectures rather than slip away into daydreams. It was only as an adult that I recognized these strengths and weaknesses and it was a revelation of sorts leading to new possibilities. What if I revisited the non-intuitive concepts in quantum mechanics or relativity through the medium of art? I began paying attention to the doodles I would make as I listened to online lectures and talks, and noticed that the shapes aligned with the contents of the lectures. I immersed myself into various fields that interested me and started to create my own visual vocabulary. Over the years, this has enabled me to explore topics in physics, human anatomy and neuroscience among others.
I recently had to design a different kind of template to create a kolam with more than 1500 dots for an upcoming collaborative art installation. Community members including school children will print out the templates and design the allotted spaces to create a 12”x12” tile each. When these tiles are connected following the pattern, a complex kolam will emerge, as the white lines will weave around the dots. Kolams are fractals and this kolam with a central line of 55-dots was scaled up from a 23-dot pattern. In order to make the project easily accessible, I had to design templates by dividing each of the kolam shapes into quarters so that it would be easy to print at home. It was a pleasant surprise to learn that combining just two templates, a quarter circle and a quarter square could create the six shapes. I was fascinated by how these two templates and six shapes could create infinite kolams can be drawn and was reminded of how two massive objects that a ages ago in faraway space to produce waves that matched the simulated graphs.
Kolam Templates, Shapes and Patterns