Explorations > Operator Paintings : By Michael Archer

Operator Paintings : By Michael Archer

The Operator Paintings are a series of works derived from equations constructed using standard mathematical operators. As with Tyson’s Artmachine, rather than feeding numerical values into these equations, he is free to apply the operators to any and all existing and imaginary objects, phenomena and ideas. In mathematics, operators are procedures applied to entities more complex than real numbers. The simplest of these, and the ones most familiar to all of us, are basic operations such as addition and multiplication, but there are others, such as convolution, gradient, curl, and so on, whose names alone invite imaginative play. Some of the works in this group remain as equations, while others are ‘solved’ by being made into paintings. A characteristic feature of mathematical equations is that they are commutative; that is, the result is the same regardless of the order which the terms appear So, a + b = b + a and so on. This is not the case with the Operator Paintings in whose equations the sequence is which phenomena appear makes all the difference to their solutions. One of the aspects of particular interest to Tyson is the activity of mark-making, something that can be seen in the words and symbols of the equations as much as in any of the finished paintings.

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