Twisted Geometries

About 30 years ago (maybe late 80’s), after a visit to an exhibition of drawings by Sonia Delaunay, at a museum in Montreal, I felt inspired to attempt to automate a pastiche of her works. What I ended up with had very littleĀ in common with the source material. In fact, it evolved its own syntax and calculus. I generated those long-ago drawings on a plotter. It took a long time to render, and was prone to glitches.

But I managed to produce some reasonable pieces. One of which has been hanging in my living room for several decades. I had named it Digital Origami, as the pieces, in certain configurations, resembledĀ bent surfaces.

There it sat, taunting me with unexplored possibilities. Every time I looked at it, I thought of new things to try with it. But I was always too busy, or too tired. Also, I had fairly ambitious plans for a user interface which would allow for a lot of configurability. This probably overwhelmed me some.

About three years ago (2014), during an end of year visit to my parents’ place in Florida, I decided to re-implement the Digital Origami pieces in JavaScript and SVG. I now kick myself that I didn’t preserve a record of the development at the time: there were some spectacular, unintended effects. But within three or four days I’d recreated the original origami element.

But the interface was clunky, and like the 30-year-ago version, all configurations had to be hard-coded. So, again, the work was set aside and lay fallow for another three years.

Recently (2017-08), at one of my contracts, I met a young artist, and after a conversation about her art, I was inspired to revisit my Digital Origami. It occurred to me, in a rare moment of clarity, to decouple the user interface from the final product, and instead seek an intermediate specification format.

And the flood gates opened wide. Within three or four weekends, I had coded the necessary functionality to implement all the ideas I had been noodling with these many years. The excitement I felt was palpable! Not only were ideas within reach, but the configuration format I’d devised allowed for tremendous flexibility.

As I developed new functionality, and tested it with new pieces, I posted these to social media. It was at this time I decided the old Digital Origami monicker needed to be freshened up. And I came up with Twisted Geometries.

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