Friday, June 20, 2014

Design Challenge Week #8 Results

My brother provided the challenge for this week:  Feynman Diagrams.  I had to do a bit of research because, while I'm familiar with Dr. Feynman, I wasn't as familiar with his diagrams.  Mike sent me a link to an  article about an exhibit at FermiLab of Feynman Diagram art rendered in steel tubing.  Quite cool.

The diagrams are, as near as I can make out, about diagramming atomic/subatomic particles' movements and interactions.   It was quite a different topic but a challenge isn't a challenge unless it's a challenge, and I spent quite some time with it this week.  I found that it would be easy to spend a great deal more time with it, but here are some ideas I played with.   I don't know if my brother will laugh, cry, shake his head, or bang his head against the desk when he sees them, but art is supposed to inspire emotion and discussion, right?

It wouldn't be difficult to do a quilt with pretty literal interpretation of the diagrams, and I might do one for Mike--if he sends me some of his favorites. (It occurs to me that it might be fun to do the diagrams in white, on a black background--chalk on slate blackboard.  Old school, I know, but surely Feynman used old-fashioned blackboards in the course of his career and his lectures.)

It could be sylized just a bit, and repeated:
The challenge is to create designs inspired by the topic, not necessarily literal representation, though, so as I was reading a post with "rules" for constructing the diagrams, I thought about the pieces   that seemed to go into them.  In the case of this particular post, there were squiggly lines and straight lines with arrows:  electrons and positrons going in, electrons and positrons going out, with the squiggly lines being where some sort of "magic happens" in the equation.  (Sorry, any physicists who are reading this; I'm going to claim artistic license, even in my understanding of the diagrams!)   Anyway, back to the pieces.  What if you had a toolbox of the pieces or components of the diagrams, sorted and lined up?  That would be more of a "block-y" kind of quilt.

To make something more traditionally "quilty" I used classic quilt piece shapes to construct squiggly lines (you CAN see that in the staggered bands, right?) and triangles for the arrowed lines.   Yes, you Feynman fans may notice that I have particles going in and never coming out.  I don't know for certain, but I suspect that's a serious problem in the physics world.

 I rather like vertical columns of design, so you could set it on its end, too.

Traditional quilts often feature repetition--repeated shapes or blocks--and several of these stylized diagrams make for a rather interesting composition.  It is probably way beyond "approximation" and unless you knew it was a stylized Feynman Diagram your brain wouldn't make that leap but, hey; it's an artistic interpretation inspired by the diagrams.

At some point in the series of posts about diagrams that I was reading, color was introduced.  Hurrah!  Something else to play with.  (The color was a quark thing, I think; different flavors of quarks can be represented with different colors?  Feynman is probably turning in his grave now, and physicists everywhere are developing serious headaches.)  At least I've corrected the problem with particles going in but not coming out.

Expanding my horizons on the shapes of diagrams I found a few more designs that I liked.   You could do a series of improvisationally pieced triangles, with some bias strips for the squiggly lines.  Or, you could stylize them and create more traditional triangles with squiggly lines.

Hexagons are a very popular shape for quilters, especially of late.  I like the hexagon with squiggly lines. It looks a bit like biology meets physics, doesn't it?  (Sorry, I can't tell you what this particular diagrams represents, in terms of particles.)  And goodness knows, I have enough rulers and tools for making hexagons.

 How about a Fractal Feynman?   Hexagon diagrams making up a hexagon?  (OK, it's stretching it to call that a fractal but I'm invoking artistic license and naming again.)

Thinking about the steel tubing art started me thinking about possibilities with more dimension.  I have, for some time, been planning a quilt (or series) that uses quilted strips that are twisted; an example is below.   I think that has potential for a more dimensional rendering of the squiggly lines.

The hexagons could even have more dimension, if I made them separately, using the Hickory Nut ruler. (See my post about Crazy Hexies.)   The center would be plain, rather than the crazy quilting. that I think about it, you could embroider some Feynman diagrams in the middle of each one.   Hmmm.

Or, I could piece together some hexies with plainer backgrounds, and then sew some dimensional twisted pieces over the top of them, for yet another dimensional quilt, albeit it one that is quite far from the original design inspiration.   Hmmm, again...

Feynman is probably laughing in his physics lab in the sky, Mike is probably laughing in a hysterical sort of way, and I am smiling because this was quite fun.   There are many more ideas floating around in my head than I've had time to play with this week and that's the whole point of the Challenge.   Who knows what next week will hold!

This challenge just reminded me of a quilt made for Mike years ago.  The family was talking about Penrose tiling at Christmas one year and we thought it might make an interesting quilt.  My brothers headed off to the library to get some articles about it, Mary Kay headed in to Dad's computer to write the code for a program that would generate diagrams, and Rita and I talked about color, fabric, etc. (Poor Mom was trying to get us to sit down to dinner.  I think her children were quite a strain on her, some days!)  Penrose tiling uses just two shapes, and you have to place them correctly to get them to all fit together.  If you  mess up with one, it throws off every other piece placement from that point out. (You build from the center--or, at least I did.)  I made plenty of mistakes as I was laying it out on the design wall, and I must have reset pieces at least 50 times.   I cut each piece by hand, around templates (this was pre-rotary cutter and rulers),  pieced it by hand, and hand quilted it.  I also used some beads, though you can't see them very well in this photo.    Nowaways, we have many more color options in fabrics and I could probably do more gradation in the darks, but I still rather like this quilt.

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