Monday, July 6, 2015

Bridges Paper - Highly Unlikely Triangles and Other Impossible Figures in Bead Weaving

I have been going a little crazy saving a surprise for you all, and today is finally the day to share it!  Meet the Highly Unlikely Tetrahedron.
These are photos that I will be presenting with my paper at the Bridges Conference in Baltimore this month.
My paper is called, "Highly Unlikely Triangles and Other Impossible Figures in Bead Weaving." It is now available from the Bridges website. You can download the free PDF file here.  I hope you enjoy it!
Be sure to browse the entire collection of papers in the 2015 Proceedings of the Bridges Conference.  There are so many great contributors this year; it will be impossible to pick a favorite. Seriously, go brew yourself a pot of coffee, start at the beginning and click on any title that looks interesting. Candy for your brain. If you can make it to University of Baltimore on July 29 - August 1, 2015 (Wednesday - Saturday), you can even go to the Bridges Conference and listen to the authors talk about their papers, which is way more fun than reading them because you can meet the people who wrote the papers and ask them questions.
If you don't know about the Bridges Conference, neither did I until about 2003, when I heard a talk at the Joint Mathematics Meetings by Reza Sarhangi, a Bridges founder and generally fascinating fellow. Reza talked about this meeting where people discuss connections between mathematics, science and the arts, including visual art, architecture, music, poetry and theater.  As I listened, I thought, "I think I have found my people." It was a big moment for me, listening to Reza speak.  So, I went home and wrote a couple short papers on quilting and math, and submitted them for review.  Next thing I know, I was presenting my work to a group of like-minded people, other mathematical artists and mathematicians who loved art. They had many fascinating ideas to share, and they educated each other, plus they had interest in my work and opinions about it. I was in math-art-nerd heaven. I went to four Bridges conferences in so many years, and then I left academia to be an artist, and stopped going, and started going to Burning Man instead and doing art there with that community. Then, after last year with the Genie Bottle, I decided to take a year off of Burning Man, and go back to Bridges this year instead. So I wrote a paper on beading impossible figures, they accepted it, and I booked my tickets.

Then, Kelly Delp and the other organizers sent me an email. They thought my paper was so swell that they asked me to give a keynote address to the whole conference.  That means that I get more time to talk and show slides, and there will be no other concurrent sessions while I will be speaking.  I also get a little spot on their website here among the other keynote speakers, including John H. Conway, Ingrid Daubechies, and Alan C. Kay, who all have their own Wikipedia pages, by the way. So, you get that I'm excited to go and see and meet all the people. They asked me to make a mosaic for their website, which you can see here. 
The mosaic includes photos of our jungle gym Bat Country and the Genie Bottle, two Burning Man art projects that I created with the help of my friends in Struggletent.  The beadwork includes a circular Celtic knot, my cover of the Journal of Mathematics and the Arts with an Octahedral Cluster and a Seirpinski tetrahedron, bacteriophages, DNA, a Highly Unlikely tetrahedron from my Bridges paper, and a few photos of cellular automata, which is the project I'm currently working on.  So stay tuned for that. It's going to be cool. You'll like it.  I promise.

I hope to see you in Baltimore!  As always, thanks for looking.


  1. Gorgeous bead weaving, they look amazing!

    Claire xo
    Beads Jar UK

  2. So much awesome! I want to play with that unlikely dodecahedron all day long :)

  3. So I looked at the pretty pictures of your beads and then thought it was about time for Burning Man. I sidetracked to Burning Man 2015- and did not see anything that looked like you. Back I came and actually read your post!

    Congratulations that is quite a gold star, pat on the back, acknowledgement, and a recognition of all the interesting work that you do.

    Have a great time in Baltimore and enjoy a crab cake. I recommend Faidley's.


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