When we were first told of the guidelines for our final project, my mind went to graphs.
Graphs, linear graphs in particular, have always helped me to better understand the math I was working with. They have created visual representations of data I couldn’t previously visualize, and helped me see clearly what I was working with. I also feel like they’re a form of math that has been pretty universally worked with, and therefore would make my project more accessible. Once I had the idea graphs, I needed a way to display them in an artistic medium. Photography is a field I’ve been working for about 3 years now, and using the human body as an art medium is a powerful form of symbolism. So, I landed on the project I just finished.
For my project, I chose to depict 5 common graphs through photography with environmental elements and the human body. The sign post and curb acted as my x and y-axis. Then, I positioned the model (the lovely Carmen) at the visual intersection of these two lines, and had her shape her body to resemble graphed lines. The five graphs I chose to show were:
y = x , y = x , y = x , y = |x| , and y = sin(x).
After taking the photos and color-correcting them, I drew a digital axis and where the rest of the graph would’ve gone beyond the figure.
From start to finish, this project ended up going beyond just the representation of graphs in terms of mathematical engagement. I used color theory and the mathematical field of optics to form my photographs, and angle tools to draw right-angle axes. It really speaks to how much
math goes into simple aesthetic creations, and asks rather than “What is influenced by math?”, “What isn’t?”.
If I were to do this project again, I think I would either choose the forest or another more picturesque backdrop than a street corner, just to spice up the photos and make them feel like they carry more weight. I like that I stuck with the straight-on angle for all five of them, because it makes most of the lines that run through the photo appear perfectly horizontal or vertical. This maximizes the appearance of a 2-D plain, and pushes the idea that you’re looking at a flat graph rather than a piece of art with visual depth. I also thought originally about being more artistic with Carmen’s outfits, but I didn’t want to distract from her body shape and the surrounding elements that made up the axes, so I think the simple outfit was okay. One thing that would’ve been cool would be if she had worn clothes that had a grid pattern on them, to further push the graph idea.