After writing the previous post on the Jackson Pollock Fractal Forgery Fuss, I remembered that I had come across a poem about Pollock and fractals written by Theresa Hawkes a few years ago. The poem, titled The Artist Under Glass Talks Back, is a paean to artists , who are defined by their prescient ability to know the world …They feel the timbre and tenor of their timeslong before they have facts to back up their impressions – light and dark shadows of an entire world’s thoughts and dreams are automatically recorded deep inside them not quite as distinctly as the first photographic plate of silver halides laughing back images of the sun slanting over a Parisian rooftop recorded what it saw.Jackson Pollack coughing up fractalsonto the cold floor of a barnin the middle of a centurystuck in the shallow veneer of appearance,uncovering depth-soundings of the intricacy and interwoven trajectoriesof everything above, between, beyond.To my reading, the poem is also a rejoinder to those who might believe in the power of science, and, by implication, mathematics, to produce art. So I’m intrigued by the juxtaposition of Pollock’s passion and the mathematics implied by the term “fractals.” Here Hawkes’ painful-sounding image of “coughing up fractals” neatly removes the paradox, making Pollock’s work organic, and the antithesis of a mathematical process. The poem then adds an interesting counterpoint to the fractal analysis of Pollock’s work that is so much in vogue.I think that I may be misreading the poem, or Hawke’s sentiment. After I had put a link to Hawkes’ poem on the Chaos and Fractal course site back in Fall 2003, she came across my reference and wrote me a letter describing her efforts on marrying science and the arts …“Good afternoon Dr. DiDio. I publish The Oracular Tree, an alternative ezine using serial fiction, poetry, and essays to imagine and describe our world as it might become as we transition from our agricultural and industrial past to a future based in science and the technological advances of modern western civilization. I came across your Chaos and Fractals Seminar site purely by accident…I noticed this seminar uses Ray Bradbury and a poem by me (Teresa Hawkes) to help illustrate concepts of chaos and fractals. This is tremendously heartening to me to see that artists can help illustrate scientific concepts. Many artists are deeply inspired by the work of scientists and attempt to incorporate it into their work in an accurate manner, as I’m sure you know.”
Well, I didn’t know much about artists incorporating the work of scientists (other than fractals), so now I regularly visit the Oracular Tree, where I often find some new poem, or essay with an interesting science component, often accompanied by a beautiful fractal image. A recent example is the 3/26/2006 “meditation” The Aperture Problem and the Group Mind, also by Hawkes.See the Oracular Tree for more info on Hawkes and all of the art and artists that make up the site.