Go Forth and Make a Piece of Pi

(Above) “Power of Pi” hand drawn with pencil, ruler, and compass by Jason Padgett.

There’s still time to make something artsy for pi Day! Here’s some mathy art and design to whet your appetite for March 14. The following artists scratch the surface of the infinite digits of pi as a source for art making.

First up is bioinformatics vizier and graphic design ninja, Martin Krzywinski. His website is a celebration of beautiful information. One whole page is devoted to delicious π.

(source) “Pi Day 2014 poster | Frequency distribution of digits in Pi for each of 128 6-digit groupings in 10 columns up to the Feynman Point. For each grouping the number of times a digit was seen is proportional to the width of the annulus.”

(source) ” Pi Day 2014 poster | Frequency distribution of digits in Pi for the first 4,988 digits of Pi in groupings of 4. This subset contains the triplets for each digit, the last being 888 at digit 4,985. The layout is on an Archimedean spiral. For each grouping the number of times a digit was seen is proportional to the width of the annulus.”

(source) “Distribution of the first 13,689 digits of π.”

I’m seeing a an op-art ripple in the bottom one. This is a subtle effect I would love to get in my own π art work. Krzywinski’s dots are perfect same-size color-coded circles. I’ll need to switch to round beads for the attempt and swap round peyote weave for a simple coil.

Here is my piece. The working title was “Ripples”, but now I am shamed into changing it after seeing Krzywinski’s “Distribution of the first 13,689 digits of π” and I will make another attempt.

A beadweaving featuring the digits of pi by Julie Mars (I’m thinking a subtle gunmetal grey frame. What do you think?)

One of the greatest features of π as a number series is its random distribution of digits. I was drawn to π as a way of coding colors and getting a rich and varied field of dappled color. There’s a nice contrast between the random center and the nonrandom border.

I have a sensual streak that simple paint can’t satisfy. This is why I’m drawn to various lusters, colors, and translucencies found in glass beads. That said, our next artist, Jason Padgett, blows me out of the water, again, by getting some of the optical effects and illusions I’d kill for with simple pencil, ruler, and compass. He’s a magician with π.

(source) Note card featuring “Toward pi 3.141552779” by Jason Padgett

(source) “Double Slit Test” by Jason Padgett

(source) Light is Pi The Shape of Pi by Jason Padgett

(source) “720 Pi Half Rainbow” by Jason Padgett

I have a sketch in my sketchbook for a pi piece that features a moonbow in a beadweaving. I have no idea if I can pull it off. Jason Padgett has created this magnificent, subtle work of  geometric op art. He calls it a rainbow, but that is my idea of a moonbow. We are hamstrung with this thumbnail because our we are looking at an image of a fine detail linear work in a low resolution picture via pixels. (Bigger version here.) Even so, if we look closely we can experience an illusion of faint color in this black and white drawing. Astonishing and poetic. This is mathematics delicately used to express the sublime. What a wonder.

I’ve only featured his work that uses pi here. He has developed a range of analytical and mathematical processes to compose his artworks often achieving elegant optical effects. See his artist portfolio page to see it all.

I learned a lot from featuring the art of Jason Padgett and Martin Krzywinski for Pi Day. I hope you are just as inspired by their work and make some 3.141552… art for Pi Day March 14. Share your π art below in the comments!