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Issue No. 17 - Enigma

Video Insider: Nancy Burson

Nancy Burson at ClampArt Gallery from Musée Magazine on Vimeo.

Nancy Burson has been confusing and intriguing people with photography and mathematics for the last few decades. Her work was pioneered, predated and sometimes invented new ways for computers and humans to interact, and her technique is still employed by most police services to find missing persons. Her recent exhibition at ClampArt shows her works of composite faces, but, more interestingly, her new work. The new work, as she explains in the interview is again drawing on mathematics with a focus on graphs and grids. Nancy Burson puts the words “I love you” onto a grid which reads in a repeated sequence both horizontally and vertically.

The idea sounds simple enough, so let's prove it works.

First the idea was to take the work as a graph with values for each letter substituted by a number (I = 1, L = 2, O = 3 and so on)

To explain before continuing.

A graph is an ordered pair G = (V,E), where V is a finite, non-empty set of objects, and E is a set of unordered pairs of distinct vertices i.e., 2-subsets of called edges.

If e = {uv} ∈ E(G), we say that vertices u and v are adjacent in G, and that e joins u and v. We’ll also say that and v are the ends of e.

So, to solve we have to look at it as a Cartesian problem. An A x square with sets A and B, where B is the value of E

A ={1,2...,8} and B={e}. Or more simply A1 x … x A8 = {(a1,....,a8) : ai ∈ Ai}. So E= {ea∈ B}.

 

At this point we realize why Burson has worked with the Media Lab at MIT.

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