On Geometry and Speculation

An exhibition belonging to The Official Parallel Program of the fourth edition of the Marrakech Biennale 29 February - 28 March 2012 curated by Hicham Khalidi

table Of cOntentS

Introduction by Jos van Aggelen - Ambassador of the Kingdom of The Netherlands, Rabat Curator’s statement Artists Amalia Pica Marjolijn Dijkman

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Dear guests,

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Martijn van Boven - Tom Tlalim Esther Polak - Ivar van Bekkum Navid Nuur Lisa Oppenheim Julia Dault Berit Greinke - Alessandro Altavilla Germaine Dulac Mike Rijnierse Bram Vreven Aurélien Froment Extra pictures of work
Lecturers Gosse de Kort Xandra van der Eijk Baghdad, 830: Birth of the Algorithm from Enfoldment and Infinity: An Islamic Genealogy of New Media Art by Laura U. Marks

I’m honored to be able to introduce the catalogue for the exhibition On Geometry and Speculation which is being organized as part of the 4th edition of the Biennale of Marrakech. On learning about this project, I was struck by its international and cross cultural character, through both its theme and by the artists brought together in the exhibition. As Ambassador of The Netherlands in Morocco, I’m really proud that the curator of the exhibition, Hicham Khalidi, a Dutch citizen of Moroccan origin, has brought such a distinguished and diverse group of artists from France, the UK, the US, Argentina and the Netherlands to Marrakech. It is wonderful, that somebody with the background of Hicham Khalidi, is able to playfully explore parallels between modern Western art and Islamic art from the Islamic Golden Age. And that we will be able to appreciate this against the background of Marrakech, will add real life to this project. With this exhibition Hicham Khalidi is proving once more that The Netherlands is not only one of the world’s important marketplaces for goods and services, but also one for ideas, concepts and images. Through Khalidi’s creativity and the contributions of the artists he has brought together The Netherlands and Morocco, the Islamic world and the Western world, in this ever more famous city. I hope you will enjoy the exhibition.

Jos van Aggelen Ambassador of the Kingdom of The Netherlands, Rabat 27 Marrakech, 22nd of February, 2012

Curator / Editor – Hicham Khalidi, Copy Editor – Amanda Sarroff, Design – Rowan McCuskey, Production – Natasha Hoare, Laura Marks – Proof reading and Chapter 6, Enfoldment and Infinity: An Islamic Genealogy of New Media Art, Printed by El Watanya
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curatOr’S Statement

curatOr’S Statement

Time present and time past Are both perhaps present in time future, And time future contained in time past. If all time is eternally present All time is unredeemable. What might have been is an abstraction Remaining a perpetual possibility Only in a world of speculation. What might have been and what has been Point to one end, which is always present. Footfalls echo in the memory Down the passage which we did not take Towards the door we never opened Into the rose-garden. My words echo Thus, in your mind. But to what purpose Disturbing the dust on a bowl of rose-leaves I do not know. Other echoes Inhabit the garden. Shall we follow? Quick, said the bird, find them, find them, Round the corner. Through the first gate, Into our first world, shall we follow The deception of the thrush? Into our first world. There they were, dignified, invisible, Moving without pressure, over the dead leaves, In the autumn heat, through the vibrant air, And the bird called, in response to The unheard music hidden in the shrubbery, And the unseen eyebeam crossed, for the roses Had the look of flowers that are looked at. There they were as our guests, accepted and accepting. So we moved, and they, in a formal pattern, Along the empty alley, into the box circle, To look down into the drained pool. Dry the pool, dry concrete, brown edged, And the pool was filled with water out of sunlight, And the lotos rose, quietly, quietly, The surface glittered out of heart of light, And they were behind us, reflected in the pool. Then a cloud passed, and the pool was empty. Go, said the bird, for the leaves were full of children, Hidden excitedly, containing laughter. Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind Cannot bear very much reality. Time past and time future What might have been and what has been Point to one end, which is always present. – Burnt Norton from Four Quartets, T.S. Eliot

On Geometry and Speculation
By Hicham Khalidi

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hough often overlooked, much of Western science is rooted in medieval Islamic philosophy. Greek and Indian scientific manuscripts were translated into Arabic under the reign of Caliph Harun al-Rashid and his son al-Ma’mun long before finding their way into medieval European society. Individuals like the Banu Musa brothers, Al Farabi, Avicenna, Averroës, Ibn al-Haytam, and Mohammed ibn Moesa al-Chwarizmi used these texts to pioneer studies in mathematics, optics, astrology, and alchemy. Underlining Islamic thought in this period was the premise that God is a single and complete entity. This search for the infinitude of God in combination with aniconism inspired mathematical models for representing the world. According to Laura Marks, professor of art and culture studies at Dena Wosk University and author of the book Enfoldment and Infinity, An Islamic Genealogy of New Media Art, these acts of abstraction corresponded directly to contemporary Islamic architecture and design. As her research shows, within contemporary art, and within new media art in particular, lies a latent, deeply enfolded, historical inheritance from Islamic art and thought. The exhibition On Geometry and Speculation brings together Dutch and International artists in an effort to render explicit this lineage from the Islamic Golden Age to contemporary art.
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The Islamic Golden Age The founding of the Bayt al-Hikma (House of Wisdom) library inaugurated the Golden Age of Islam. This library, which was created by decree under Caliph Harun al-Rashid (763 - 809) in the Abbasid-era and instituted by his son and successor Abu Jafar al-Ma’mun (786 - 833), became a renowned center of learning. During his reign al-Ma’mun sponsored the translation of copious Persian, Indian, Syrian, and Greek philosophical and scientific texts and brought together the day’s brightest minds for intellectual debate.1 Undisputed by its Muslim scholars, however, was the axiom of God’s absolute unity. Many scholars of the Golden Age sought to reveal the hidden link between the unity of God and the infinity of the universe. From Aniconism to Abstraction Aniconism, or the practice of shunning images of divine beings, is a central Islamic tenet. Under Islamic law, the injunction against image-making is founded on the precept that life and image are equal and that only God can produce life. Man can not and must not attempt to (re)produce that which was created by God, nor can he or she represent the world in any form shaped by mankind. The search for the unity of God coupled with an adherence to aniconism created

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“the perception of an object by the optical system” and. second. she argues. nowadays much wider assortments can be found. not imitations of nature. The map is comprised of cities. Although from remote the surface seems firm.4 Although traditionally sets of five tiles are used to create infinitely complex patterns. Rules and Rulers of Architecture Mathematical findings on how the world is shaped were translated into contemporary Islamic architecture and design. records of geographic and weather conditions. PhD in Islamic art and architecture at the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University. Iran. uses data-mining to document a field trip from eastern Sudan to Marrakech. The tube lights change from red to green to blue. This increases variety but adds little to the complexity of the patterns. such as those of the Darb al-Imam (1453) shrine in Isfahan. it requires contrast to distinguish between colors within an image. According to Nuur the eye is unable to focus on a single hue. Rather. I direct the dynamic force of the surface towards a pixel-like composition. Artists Martijn van Boven and Tom Tlalim use algorithmic principles to generate images. Although Kant postulated the use of imagination in the judgement of aesthetics in 1781.1040) laid the groundwork for modern day optics. pictures. Field Notes From a Mine exposes modern technology’s ability to disguise its origins. aniconism. ”the comprehension of the object through the agency of psychological operations of cognition that engage the faculty of judgement or of discernment.]”6 Al-Haytam’s articulation of the relationship between ethics and aesthetics proved extremely prescient.curatOr’S Statement curatOr’S Statement an impetus for finding mathematical models to represent the world. which in turn alters the color of the classic ornaments they illuminate. both Islamic and new media art share fundamental aniconic principles. and unnamed places in North Africa. In Al Kitab Al Menazar (The Book of Optics) Persian mathematician Ibn al-Haytam (965 . Many of these concerns. Merleau-Ponty. geometrically-formed ceramic tiles onto which shapes are embossed by means of a pick. first. Visual Perception and the Optics of Judgement By the eleventh century a foundation had been laid for understanding the physiological and psychological processes related to visual perception. This time-based work is both an ode to the Ensemble’s craftsmanship and a reflection on the specific use of color in Islamic art. oases. Images.. yet she does so using a workman’s tools. It reminds us that data alone is amnesiac. Infinity According to Marks. Considered the father of informatics. she affixes brushes to a piece of wood or a stick. In her paintings. the political side of experience was not explored until much later by phenomenologists and existentialists like Husserl. Closer inspection. an assembly of workshops. Such anomalies of optics and perception are explored by artist Navid Nuur. In the Ensemble Artisanal artist Mike Rijnierse has created a site-specific work consisting of colored tube lights placed in the corridor of the Ensemble’s entrance. As she writes. The architectural department continues to employ girih tiles.3 Marks proposes an aesthetics of unfolding and enfolding whereby an image acts as an interface with information. villages. led to the abstraction of images. reveals a clearly painted pattern. Algorithms and Amnesia Mohammed ibn Moesa al-Chwarizmi (780 840) almost single-handedly freed mathematics from geometry. grounded in God’s immanence. however. This means of pattern making made possible highly intricate and sophisticated tilings. This idea forms the basis of The Eye Codex of the Monochrome. and ethnomusicological analyses of regional music. It is interesting to note that al-Haytam’s publication preceded Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Judgement by seven hundred years. al-Haytam’s two-step process comprised of. Dault’s work strikes a fragile balance between conceptual art and conventional skill. According to Olga Bush. or the potential. as well as the paths between them. “are produced through conscious acts of abstraction. This industrial-age amnesia finds a counterpoint in works by Julia Dault. What I incorporate within the work is the optimal span the viewer can take in order to view the surface as a complete whole. Nuur’s series of works hint at the physical impossibility of focusing on a monochrome color. it is not. and Sartre. were anticipated in al-Haytam’s writing. From near one can see the personal touch (full of mistakes). By incorporating this idea a dialogue is being setup between viewer and painting. He explains: “I try to create a complete surface by using pre-potential paint as a way of painting the ‘in-between’ spaces of the surface.” For Marks information is merely the frontispiece of the infinite. however. The Book on Optics remained a valuable resource to many Western scholars for hundreds of years. and that technology has the ability to efface its own process of creation. Their new film Field Notes From a Mine. save for its data set organized into a map. that once served as pilgrimage routes between 1300 and 1900. “the completion and perfection of beauty with respect to color will not be achieved through pure sensation in itself but rather will engage a secondary process of discernment [. new media art emanates from a single point of enfolding and unfolding infinitude and information. As he wrote. the virtual. the virtual “is a state of preconditions. By using the Indian number system he devised a new form of mathematics called algebra.”2 Like Islamic art. and information (such as computer code) as an interface with the infinite.. he later coined the concept of algorithm. The artist privileges concept over craftsmanship. When viewed from a distance the small horizontal and vertical strokes (squares) give the impression of a uniform color. Heidegger. To put it a little differently. a series of paintings in which the artist applies pre-potential (noncolor) paint like primer or chroma key (in chroma key screens) in a grid on linen or wood.5 The data includes national borders. craftsmen apply traditional construction methods to artifacts and building facades. The film is entirely computer-generated and absent of concrete material. At the Ensemble Artisanal in Marrakech.” 7 6 . color schemes.” Al-Haytam’s research proposed an inextricable link between visual perception and cognitive judgement. His treatise describes the psychological apparatus involved in seeing and comprehending a visual object. a pixel has the tendency to clutter into a solid hue when viewed from a distance.

Yet only once obstacles within the structure of a society are overcome can learning and progress be realized. nudged on by a battery. Together.curatOr’S Statement curatOr’S Statement Time/lines Visual perception is integral to how we experience time. 1876 and exposes it to sunlight at different intervals of the day. ou de l’éducation by Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712 . Bram Vreven’s installation time off. as a semi-private institution offering degrees in film. van der Eijk embraces the contradictions between emotion/ aesthetics and (generated) data-cycles or strict systems. which were originally fabricated as fake replacements for mechanisms in old wall clocks. the steps become bigger. The same is true for the youth in many countries throughout the Arab world. Geometric dynamics alternate with apparent chaos. and record our environment. is the perfect location to begin a dialogue about this rich heritage and its roots in the legendary Bayt al-Hikma library. scholars during the Islamic Golden Age attained invaluable knowledge about the universe that changed how we perceive . and the pendulum’s once cyclic movement no longer defines time. Yet it is the choice of brave individuals to take the first steps into unknown realms that makes an artistic and scientific revolution possible. Measuring Experience In Composition of the Universe Marjolijn Dijkman uses a numerical breakdown of the universe’s composition to visualize alternative paradigms for representing the cosmos. resulting in phase-shifting. In her work Heliograms. the film looks at how the image precedes its recording. especially children. If we look at the current status of education in Morocco today. crisscrossing. five-minute-long shot of a jellyfish seen through the window of an aquarium. These patterns form a kind of solar drawing. eventually creating a spiral pattern on the ground. It is home to many young people who are educated and eager to work. On Geometry and Speculation On Geometry and Speculation seeks to recuperate the shared history between classical Islamic philosophy and contemporary art. This tension between the collective and the individual is explored in Pulmo Marina by Aurélien Froment. What we can learn from the Islamic Golden Age.1778). Composition of the Universe becomes a catalyst for investigating the human compulsion to explain. The first translations were sponsored by Caliph al-Ma’mun in the ninth century.” 7 Many of Rousseau’s ideas evolved around the corruption of man by society. The intensity and quality of the light depending on the hour and day. 8 On Education The exhibition On Geometry and Speculation is primarily situated in the Ecole Supérieure des Arts Visuels (ESAV). and endless variation. the work forms a sundial with several invisible timelines presented simultaneously. impacts the intensity of and contrasts within each of the new images. The installation An Arbitrary System For Tuning Fabrics by London-based duo Berit Greinke and Alessandro Altavilla creates a soundscape in which viewers also become active participants. As Pica points out. He questioned how and whether man can keep his or her inner world intact while being part of society. These pendulums. In painting the horse white Pica intervenes in these narratives by metaphorically stripping the “hero” from his ability to move forward. a transposition of the strength of energy in time. yet equally complete universes. The work consists of pendulums grouped together into a tight grid on a wall. Both artists will lecture on their work and methods after the screening of Field Notes From a Mine by Martijn van Boven and Tom Tlalim. In so doing. its motion is primarily ornamental. whose social life shifts from the collective experience of the museum to the private experience of the computer screen. The installation creates a spatial geometry of sound triggered by the two dimensional pattern. Its site offers a wonderful opportunity to host a show that deals with the Islamic legacy in art and science. on the other hand. By attempting to understand God. Emerging sunlight awakens a solar-powered robot. Lectures and verbal interventions by Gosse de Kort and Xandra van der Eijk provide further dimensions to the exhibition’s epistemological pursuits. television. The video On Education documents a performance in which the artist painted the horse of a Montevideo monument white. During the exhibition visitors. is that knowledge is the society’s most important investment in the future. Western Europe rediscovered Ptolemy’s work through its Arabic translations. Step by step it releases sand. For this reason the work of Amalia Pica stands tall. embroidered fabric sheets. are invited to play with the wooden forms. or of any golden age for that matter. While de Kort situates his work on the border of architecture and theatre. revolutionaries often become dictators who maintain their power by withholding knowledge from society. ou de l’éducation is a systematic exposition of 9 ideas instructing us “that every stage of human growth—from birth to adulthood—is not valid of future development but is valid in itself. This is the only art academy in Marrakech. With increasing light. The film is accompanied by subtitles that show excerpts from Émile. performs a more geometrical approach to time. From this visual noise arises recognizable patterns that appear and disappear. Visitors prompt changes in sonification as they navigate around a set of layered. moves a certain distance depending on its accumulated solar energy. a single. quantify. Each one is endowed with the freedom to wander. conductive. and visual communication. which. Émile. Their 2010 work Spiral Drawing Sunrise uses sand to graph the rising sun. These models. a long road lies ahead. bring to light new. they use it to create timelines of another nature. The sun has been a source of intrigue for centuries. depending on the use of different shapes. Morocco is an example of this potential. written by Ptolemy in the second century. When the original Algamest was lost. Lisa Oppenheim uses a negative of the sun taken on July 8. Although Esther Polak and Ivar van Bekkum also harness sunlight in their installations. its name was derived from the Arabic al-majisti. Instead. at set time intervals. One of the most important treatises in Islamic and Western science on the subject is Algamest. are dislocated from the manufacturer’s original purpose. The pendulum—as a symbol of temporality—swings aimlessly back and forth. An astronomical treatise on the apparent motions of the stars and planets. Shifting from a banal wildlife TV program about a sea creature to a description of the physical and architectural conditions of its display in the aquarium. The aquarium window is employed as a display device in the construction of the notion of the viewer. ESAV.

An Islamic Genealogy of New Media Art. Lu argues in an article in Nature that “[The architects] wanted to extend the pattern without it repeating. and Light Cone/Paris. Marks. Natasha Hoare. – http://en. With many thanks to all the artists. Many routes originating in Africa. graphic media design ESAV. Abdulmounaim Khalidi.com/OWTRAD/DATA/tmcDZm1300a. European Cultural Foundation. Georeferenced data set (Series 1 . Laura U. Alya Sebti – producer. – http://www.F. N. Marrakech Biennale. The Royal Dutch Embassy in Morocco. Amanda Sarroff. Khemar Kechir. An Islamic Genealogy of New Media Art (Cambridge. and the many sponsors that made this event possible. Plan B/Cluj/Berlin. Virginie Le Cam. dr. and all the volunteers and students of ESAV. Suzanne Wallinga. html 5 Ciolek.com .D. Jansen. Stokroos Fund. Rowan McCuskey. 2009 7 Émile. Diana Stigter/Amsterdam. Parallel Projects Marrakech Biennale. Marks. 1 http://en n. The Canadian Council for the Arts. the ESAV. p. Jean-Jaques Rousseau. van Aggelen. 2010). Stroom Den Haag. Assya Khalidi. not all roads lead to Rome. 2005. 2003 10 11 . An Islamic Genealogy of New Media Art. drs. Symposium on Islamic Art: And Diverse Are Their Hues: Color in Islamic Art. Aziz Agouni. The Netherlands. Enfoldment and Infinity. OWTRAD Dromographic Digital Data Archives (ODDDA). Marks – author of Enfoldment and Infinity: An Islamic Genealogy of New Media Art. We are indebted to the wisdom of Caliph Harun al-Rashid and his son al-Ma’mun whose open society made possible a revolution of this magnitude. Special thanks to the ambassador of The Netherlands in Rabat. and the galleries Juliette Jongma/Amsterdam. The Middle East. Vincent Melilli . A.H. Vicob Vision Communication.com/news/2007/070219/full/news070219-9. Aat Seger. Although they were probably unaware of the mathematical properties and consequences of the construction rule they devised. and drs. Quite a few pass through Marrakech as well.org/wiki/Harun_al-Rashid 2 Enfoldment and Infinity. Florence Robert-Vissy – director. Dirk Jongen. The MIT Press 2010 3 Aniconism is the practice or belief in avoiding or shunning images of divine beings. Old World Trade Routes (OWTRAD) Project. Many thanks to Laura Marks and MIT Press for this great opportunity to share an excerpt of this wonderful book with the readers and with the public of this exhibition. The Marrakech Biennale. Airam – Chicas Productions. Bilderrahmen Werken/Berlin. Nadim Samman – curator. in fact. Saad Hamoumi – director. John Jednak. or in different manifestations. Ulysse Voyages – Uniglobe Travel GP. Matthew. p.wikipedia.curatOr’S Statement curatOr’S Statement the world. Abdelrahman Agouni. Hyzkia van Kralingen Transport.html 6 Olga Bush. MA: MIT Press. A. This exhibition shifts modern Western philosophical discourse ever so slightly to point out that. For this reason I am proud to show the works of Dutch and international contemporary artists in the cosmopolitan environment of l’Ecole supérieure des Arts Visuels de Marrakech and in a city that has been the center of trade and artisanship for more than six hunderd years. ciolek. 7. Jimack. Mondriaan Fund. Akram Haissoufi.wikipedia. T. ciolek. 830: Birth of the Algorithm. Included in this catalogue is chapter six. Canberra: www.” – http:// www. Cyberpark Marrakech.org/wiki/ Aniconism Enfoldment and Infinity. Cordoba. Vanessa Branson – director The Marrakech Biennale. Martin van Zomeren/Amsterdam. Laura U. Peter Dankers. I am indebted to the Marrakech Biennale. they did end up with something that would lead to what we understand today to be a quasi-crystal. Marks.directeur général ESAV.Routes): North African pilgrimage routes 1300-1900 CE.” in Laura U. Motive Gallery/ Amsterdam. “Baghdad. L. Hicham Khalidi The exhibition On Geometry and Speculation is supported by The Marrakech Biennale. such as Penrose tilings. 156. The pattern looks regular but never repeats exactly. Barbara Foxley. any human beings or living creatures. and Europe lead here. The MIT Press 2010 4 Scientists Peter Lu and Paul Steinhardt studied these Islamic tiling patterns and demonstrated in a paper published in Science in 2007 that the patterns on the shrine are in fact aperiodic tilings. P. Stef van Campen (Hizkia van Kralingen).Asia Paci”c Research Online. Laura U. M.nature. and Concrete Image Stores. Direction de Regional de L’Artisanat. Jessica Bannister – production manager. Laasri – director. van den Elzen – Ministery of Foreign Affairs. prophets or other respected religious figures.

1978 artIStS Marjolijn Dijkman The Netherlands. bring to light new. transmitted. Her work has been exhibited internationally in independent art spaces. In so doing. citizens were not allowed to gather in groups larger than eight people. Dijkman founded the artist-run organization Enough Room for Space. Courtesy Galerie Diana Stigter Composition of the Universe (74% dark energy. Composition of the Universe becomes a catalyst for investigating the human compulsion to explain. and installation. Her gesture refers to the South American joke asking the color of Napoleon Bonaparte’s “white horse. Marjolijn Dijkman. Joost in 2009. During the period of dictatorship in Argentina in the 1970s. quantify. At the same time group mathematics and Venn diagrams were banned from primary school programs as they provided a model for subversive thought. and museums of modern art. and record our environment. yet equally complete universes. which was recorded in 2008 in Montevideo. 2008. Composition of the Universe The prevailing model of the universe states that it is comprised of 74% dark energy. photography. Emile. film. and objects.nl/ On Education.marjolijndijkman. depending on the use of different shapes. 1978 London-based artist Amalia Pica’s artworks span sculpture. monuments. especially children. centers for contemporary art. punctuated by temporary interventions into buildings. as this was considered a threat to the government. 22% dark matter and 4% ordinary matter).annarbor. are invited to play with the wooden forms.’ http://www. Uruguay.” On Education In her video On Education Pica paints the horse of a sculpture white. Rotterdam in 2003.artIStS Amalia Pica Argentina. performance. closer inspection reveals deeply troubling undertones. These models. together with Maarten Vanden Eynde. podiums. IKON Gallery in Birmingham. and served as researcher at the Jan van Eyck Academy. films Pica whitewashing the equestrian statue. In Composition of the Universe Dijkman uses this breakdown of figures to visualize alternative paradigms for representing the cosmos.com/entertainment/ummapica/ Marjolijn Dijkman graduated from the free media department at Gerrit Rietveld Academy. Devices such as megaphones. In particular. In 2005. Visitors. and represented in different cultural and historical contexts. it addresses the desire for—as well as the uncertainty of—achieving communication. The performance. Aesthetically pleasing at first sight. and 4% ordinary matter. film. 3 sec. 22% dark matter. Her diverse body of work explores how personal and collective histories are perceived. The following caption accompanies all of the drawings: “A Venn diagram is a mathematical illustration used to describe group dynamics and logical relations of inclusion and exclusion. 4 min. Amsterdam in 2001..” The video quotes Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s 1762 pedagogical treatise. and signal flags are recurring motifs. They attest to what Pica describes as a longing for something meaningful to say and the desire to find one’s voice. http://www. or On Education in which Rousseau sought to explicate his views on the fractious relationship between the individual and collective society. antennae. completed a post graduate course at the Piet Zwart Institute. UK (2011) 12 13 . Maastricht for two years before becoming tutor of fine arts at MFA AKV St. Venn Diagrams Venn Diagrams is a series of four color ink drawings on paper.

and the paths between them into a map. a route used for pilgrimages between 1300-1900 AD. respectively. For the fourth edition of the Marrakech Biennale Polak and van Bekkum invest in a new way of rendering performance into an autonomous work. Amsterdam. The data set was chosen for its evenly-distributed spatial quality and includes national borders. His work employs data patterns. pictures. London. that begins from an unnamed location in south Sudan and continues across the continent to end in Marrakech. The performance will be executed twice (see program for further details). Much of his art is indebted to. thus demarcating time and energy in a spiral-shaped solar drawing. As sand lines fall on the foil. In the process. Van Boven studied image and sound at the Royal Art Academy. In her 2009 NomadicMILK installation she tracked the distribution of condensed and powdered milk throughout Nigeria. He belongs to the curatorial team of Sonic Acts Festival. which employs algorithms to excavate meaning and narratives from otherwise unintelligible lists of numbers. Spiral Drawing Sunrise “The energy of the morning is fluid and crystalloid. The project resulted in GPS sand drawings made by a robot and a film that told the story of the landscape.wordpress.com/watch?feature=player_ embedded&v=9mZmNSFzy44#! 14 15 . A small machine manages to catch up and translate this orbit and its daily differences. leaving behind both an image of the earth’s rotation on its axis and a profile of the sunlight on that particular day at that specific location.com http://www. a data-driven documentary http://www. The video was inspired by the emerging field of data-mining.nl Spiral Drawing Sunrise. 1978 Tom Tlalim Israel. unnamed places in North Africa. Tlalim’s artwork and research explore his continued interest in alternative musical structures and the expansion of the relationship between image and sound.com Field Notes From a Mine Field Notes From a Mine is a documentary about a data environment. art historical context. color schemes. economy and mobility behind the sand drawings. Ivar van Bekkum studied journalism and worked as a graphic designer before devoting himself to art full time. http://spiraldrawingsunrise. The performance starts at sunrise and continues until the winding of the rope has come to an end. His primary interest lies in the possibilities of technological art to function in an autonomous. who have collaborated since 2004. seek new ways to visualize landscape and spacial experience by means of GPS technology. http://www.tomtlalim.youtube. villages. Together Polak and van Bekkum.artIStS Martijn van Boven The Netherlands. The Hague. Its footage. Once the light of the sun has provided sufficient energy. they will be etched into the metal. consists of a solarpowered robot tethered to a pole (or tree) and carrying an hourglass. The video traces a single trajectory. particularly those of spontaneous behavior within rational constraints. it releases sand. to explore social dynamics and political conflicts. Esther Polak was one of the first artists to make large-scale art installations using Global Positioning System (GPS) mapping. and ethnomusicological analyses of regional music. Tom Tlalim is an interdisciplinary artist and musician. the robot begins to move. which is entirely computer-generated and absent of concrete material save for the data set. organizes cities. His work combines modern image processing techniques with experimental film and early computer generated videos. oases. geographic and weather condition records. Since 2010 he has been pursuing a practice-led PhD thesis project titled Resounding Conflicts at Goldsmiths University. The pavement used for the spiral drawing will be partially covered with a flexible brass foil.” –Esther Polak and Ivar van Bekkum Spiral Drawing Sunrise uses sand as ink to graph the rising sun.polakvanbekkum. 1975 artIStS Esther Polak The Netherlands. He completed two master degrees in composition and sonology at the Royal Conservatory and the Institute of Sonology. the abstract films of Stan Brakhage. among other sources. 1965 Martijn van Boven’s artistic practice lies at the crux of abstract film and computer art. The live performance. people. which takes place in a public space. Istanbul Version. 1962 Ivar van Bekkum The Netherlands. 2011 Field Notes From A Mine.

color. the chemical element gold its symbol. In private collection.2010. Martin van Zomeren. Photo: Jhoeko As a photo fades. Cluj/Berlin. 1984 . Heliograms points toward these invisible histories by exposing the first image of the sun to sunlight over and over again. Oppenheim revives this technique for her project Heliograms. and stars have long been used to mark the passage of time. Study 4 (The Eye Codex Of The Monochrome). The Eye Codex of the Monohrome The Eye Codex of the Monochrome project belongs to Navid Nuur’s forthcoming publication of the same name. Heliograms The sun is commonly perceived as a source of power. She uses a single image—the first photograph of the sun made by the French physicists Louis Fizeau and Leon Foucault—as a photographic negative. Like these images. and places it over paper treated with an emulsion made from gold halides. 170 x 125 cm. and Mark Rothko demand relatively coordinated eye movement. In the 1840s. The relationship between photography and gold is equally intertwined and can be traced to the medium’s roots. changes in the position and rotation of the moon. such as those inside of a cave or a thick mist.artIStS Navid Nuur Iran. and context come to define the “personal aura” of each so-called monochrome. monochromes by artists such as Anish Kapoor. acryl (chroma key paint green and bleu) on wood. sun. Robert Ryman. Amsterdam and Plan B. Courtesy: The Artist. The Netherlands. Amsterdam. Through repetition the unseen is revealed.lisaopp. it assumes the additional meaning of each moment from when it was created to when it is viewed or remembered. as well as metaphorical. a technique was developed that used gold rather than silver as a photographic sensitizing agent. illuminating the past with the light of the present. Amsterdam. Historically this connection has been both alchemical and visual. Courtesy the artist Juliette Jongma gallery. In private collection.nl Lisa Oppenheim lives and works in New York. She then exposes the image to sunlight.net 16 17 . Heliograms 1840/2011 Installation view Art Basel 2011. Nuur’s work attempts to isolate the shared experience of coordinated eye movement from nature and art history to find a more personal understanding of perception. Statements section Juliette Jongma gallery. http://www. The artist likens these artworks to what he defines as primal monochromes. http:// www. 1975 Navid Nuur lives and works in The Hague. At stake in Nuur’s project is less the way in which one uses his or her eyes to look at these objects than how material. texture. James Turrell. According to Nuur. 1976 artIStS Lisa Oppenheim United States.navidnuur.

nor are the industrial sheets deliberately cut or altered. embroidered textiles for delicate digital sound control. The sculptures are both insecure and fixed: insecure because they are held with tension. fabric. and on the creation of sound reactive e-textiles. London. He is based in the UK. Her work cannot be “phoned in” to a fabricator. but fixed because they cannot be moved without being destroyed. http://www.ncl. Since October 2010 she has been pursuing a PhD in media and arts technology at Queen Mary University. the surfaces themselves are what is revealed: shimmering silver or gold costume pleather or colored vinyl. no smoke and mirrors. and audio perception. 1977 artIStS Berit Greinke Germany. http://dm. cotton. and processing code to create an extensive sound performance. London. Often this reveals several of the painting’s earlier stages. mason line. Greinke was educated at Art School Berlin and Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. do not obfuscate: no glue is used. Installation and performance. Her work is set in the laboratorial fields of design. mirrored Plexiglas. This collaborative project investigates the common grounds of textile patterning and sound sampling with the aim to improve music quality in e-textile performances and to create visually and sonically engaging live events. the viewer is able to understand how the forms came to be. who is complicit in the act of creation. Alessandro Altavilla is a sound artist. January 20. Dault invokes a necessary contingency by working on-site to devise unreproducible pieces by challenging the privileging of concept over craftsmanship. This is done in an attempt to incorporate context into the form itself. and sound designer/ composer for cinema. each iteration makes 18 the painting anew. where he belongs to the Culture Lab research team at Newcastle University. or ad hoc. such as metal rulers and combs used to texturize plaster. and performance to develop prototypes and textile-sound installations. thus. With this. He obtained an MRes in digital media at Newcastle University under the supervision of Atau Tanaka and Jamie Allen. Dault focuses on creating both two. Recently. silver thread.com Berit Greinke is a textile designer and visual artist whose work levels digital technology with the handmade. Greinke was recently awarded the NOBELini Award funded by the UK Medical Research Council. NL An Arbitrary System for tuning fabrics 2012. a webcam. Dault’s paintings use various tools (whether factory-made. http://www.and three-dimensional objects that are as direct as possible—no Photoshop. These can then be folded. Dault blends the craft of painting with the industrial aesthetic of post-studio production. and rolled. for example. 2011 Plexiglas. where she joined the Antenna & Electromagnetics Research Group in November 2011. twisted.juliadault.ac. Everlast boxing wraps. building each form in situ by bending the large sheets of color and tethering them to the wall or floor. Combining traditional textile craft techniques with smart textiles for responsive and interface design.38x54cm. This heightens the responsibility of the painting’s owner or exhibitor. The work utilizes a simple physical process and real-time sound generation to turn an edition of seemingly similar prints into individual objects. nylon ropes—to construct site-specific sculptures. With this technique. 1977 Alessandro Altavilla Italy. such as branches and brushes taped to two-by-fours) to compose by stripping the work’s surface of paint. Altavilla’s research is focused on sound interactions. Greinke uses electronic tools to investigate visual. tactile. an intention to forestall the finality of the artwork has become integral to Dault’s process: what might it mean to compose ad infinitum? The artist begins by draping vinyl.beritgreinke. or canvas to create variable compositions.artIStS Julia Dault Canada. water. At other times. 19 . electroacoustic music composer.uk/altavilla An Arbitrary System For Tuning Fabrics Altavilla’s and Greinke’s An Arbitrary System For Tuning Fabrics is a series of responsive. Rotterdam. Instead. Formica.4:00 pm. While indebted to Minimalism. Untitled 17. installation. string 80” x 66” x 52” (variable) Exhibited in “Making is Thinking” Witte de With. Dault’s techniques. removing the topmost layer of color to unearth what lies beneath it. 11:00 am .com CHROME (live) Greinke’s installation CHROME (live) combines prints on filter paper. sound synthesis and recordings. 1982 Julia Dault uses industrial materials—Formica. specifically on the augmentation of urban and locative experiences through sound and mobile technology.

nl Lumokinese is a kinetic light installation that mixes colored shadows in its architectural context. a visual symphony made of rhythmic images. http://lightcone. also known as French Impressionism. Although her first films were rote melodramas. she founded the production company Delia Film.. in 1917 she and theoretician Louis Delluc teamed up to begin the French avant-garde movement.org/en/film-455-etude-cinematographique-sur-une-arabesque. she worked as a photographer and writer for two feminist journals. The repetition of patterns at times results in an opto-acoustic experience. Dulac quickly became the center of the French Impressionism movement. Rijnierse lends concrete form to his discoveries relating to the interaction among light. 2008 (in collaboration with Willem Marijs) 20 21 . Rijnierse uses elements of color and pattern in Islamic culture to develop a musical approach to visual perception. as opportunities for women broadened. Materials: fluorescent light tubes (red.green. Max/Msp (software).artIStS Germaine Dulac France. Thanks to Jan Trützschler for arduino programming.html Mike Rijnierse’s extensive series titled Light and Colour is a meticulous study of the perception of pigmented surfaces illuminated by color. called “echoes. projections. In the early 1900s. while more traditional films.” The complex pattern of these “echoes” are mathematically tantamount to those occurring in sound harmonies. stepper motors. http://www. such as La Souriante Madame Beudet (1923).blue). which comprised of intellectuals and filmmakers devoted to promoting film as the “seventh art. La Fronde and Le Francaise. color. After World War I. Their modulations are comparable to those in Middle Eastern classical music. computer. and light designs.mikerijnierse.” Dulac’s abstract films reflect her continued fascination with movement in a style she dubbed “the integral film. 1882-1942 artIStS Mike Rijnierse The Netherlands. and the retina in installations. Mike Rijnierse will produce a site-specific work at the Ensemble Artisanal in Marrakech as part of the exhibition at ESAV. reveal Dulac’s abiding commitment to feminist issues.” La Coquille et le Clergyman (1927) is perhaps her strongest example of integral film. aluminium plates. 1974 Germaine Dulac was an early feminist filmmaker and a key figure in the development of 1920s French avant-garde cinema. music stands..

1976 In 1998 Bram Vreven bid farewell to jazz adventures to devote himself to constructing installations that contrast acoustic and electronic sounds. His recent installations Rays and SPIN focus on ever more purified motion. 05:10 min. the film looks at how the image precedes its recording. screens.com Pulmo Marina. The pendulum—as a symbol of temporality—swings aimlessly back and forth.” http://www. This inherent relativity of temporal experienced is expressed in the words of Ileen Montijn: Aurélien Froment’s simultaneous training at the Ecole Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Nantes and as a certified professional projectionist allowed him the opportunity to explore the components and peripheral elements of the cinematographic experience. Instead its motion is primarily ornamental. video. and interviews conducted with the aquarists at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California about the tank’s specificities. Courtesy of the artist and Motive Gallery 22 23 . zoological guides. Pulmo Marina Pulmo Marina consist of a single. crisscross movements. 2010. five-minute-long shot of a jellyfish seen through the window of an aquarium. whose social life shifts from the collective experience of the museum to the private experience of the computer screen. A seemingly familiar voice over describes the filmed image in lines borrowed from high-definition. Shifting from a banal wildlife TV program about a sea creature to a description of the physical and architectural conditions of its display in the aquarium. Sound. Geometric dynamics alternate with apparent chaos. nudged on by a battery. November Music Festival “Time is not the sum of all these changes. These pendulums. Installation view. Digibeta and DVD. dark background. are dislocated from the manufacturer’s original purpose. Each pendulum within the group is endowed with the freedom to wander. mono. which were originally fabricated as fake replacements for mechanisms in old wall clocks. time off. The pendulum’s once cyclic movement no longer defines time. mythologies. and endless variation. photographed at CBK Den Bosch. detail.artIStS Bram Vreven artIStS Aurélien Froment France.bramvreven. In 2004 he completed the monumental series vloei – flow in which he choreographed water movement. time off Vreven’s installation time off consists of pendulums grouped into a tight grid on a wall. The jellyfish’s constantly changing forms are enhanced by a blue and yellow contrast between the animal and the aquarium’s artificial. From this visual noise arises recognizable patterns that appear and disappear. resulting in phase-shifting. HD Cam transferred to 35 mm. but a common denominator. flat-screen advertising. The aquarium window is employed as a display device in the construction of the notion of the viewer. an agreement that people made to relate all these processes of change to one another.

Set: Maik Ronz 2010. 2006. vinyl. 2012 Oil on duratrans. 35 1/4” x 35 1/4” Julia Dault (page 18) Crystal Powers. film. 2011 Oil on canvas. color ink on paper and caption. Amsterdam. 45.artIStS Other pictures of work artIStS Other pictures of work Bram Vreven (page 22) time off. table. 2011 Oil on upholstery lining. costume pleather 57” x 11” x 7” (variable) Showman. 18” x 14” Berit Greinke (page 19) CHROME (live). In private collection. spandex 78” x 13” x 5” (variable) Navid Nuur (page 16) Study 3 (The Eye Codex Of The Monochrome). Courtesy Galerie Diana Stigter Julia Dault (page 18) Cut and Run. 24 25 .130x75cm. 2011 Oil on vinyl. detail. 4 min. Installation view. water. photographed at CBK Den Bosch. Amalia Pica (page 12) On Education. In private collection. November Music Festival Lisa Oppenheim (page 17) Heliograms 1840/2011 Installation view Art Basel 2011. 3 sec. and #4. 2008. Sound: Eric Brotto. Julia Dault (page 18) Wanksta.5 x 61 cm. prints 46x57cm Dye on filter paper. video . In private collection. #1. #2. #3. 115 x 80 cm. webcam. Photo: Cléon Daniel Amalia Pica (page 12) Venn diagrams. laptop.2010 diptich / white gesso on uncoated canvas. loudspeakers. 1984 . Statements section Juliette Jongma gallery. screens..

van der Eijk’s works embrace the contradiction between emotion/aesthetics and (generated) datacycles or strict systems. http://www.lecturerS Gosse de Kort The Netherlands. 830: Birth of the Algorithm Chapter 6 of Enfoldment and Infinity: An Islamic Genealogy of New Media Art (Cambridge. While his performance work is theatrical in nature.com Baghdad. MA: MIT Press.com Xandra van der Eijk completed the Interfaculty ArtScience program in The Hague. Marks 26 . She is a recipient of the Paul Schuitema prize. De Kort develops spatiotemporal scenarios by combining elements of the expressive potential of a space with the possibilities of a time-based focus. 1978 Xandra van der Eijk The Netherlands. 2010) Laura U. where she developed a fascination for analog. http://www. 1985 Gosse de Kort studied architecture at TU Delft and ArtScience at the Royal Conservatory and Royal Academy. Constantly driven by the idea of structure. his installations engage the audience as a co-actor to provide them the opportunity to personally explore the given environment or situation in greater detail. tactile work.gossedekort.xandravandereijk. The Hague. His works are situated on the border of architecture and theater.

More significant. after the ‘Abbasid caliphate took an ideologically conservative turn in what is called the Sunni revival. when carried out. 830: Birth of the Algorithm Chapter 6 of Enfoldment and Infinity: An Islamic Genealogy of New Media Art Baghdad. The elective affinity between complex geometrical pattern and computer animation appears most often in computer-graphic design. 2010) Laura U. MA: MIT Press. What is most interesting about artworks that reveal and revel in their algorithmic construction is that they indicate a certain way the image unfolds from the imperceptible: that relationships can be known rationally. In Islam. 830: Birth of the Algorithm Chapter 6 of Enfoldment and Infinity: An Islamic Genealogy of New Media Art (Cambridge. 28 29 . of geometry. algorithmically aweinspiring.Baghdad. these geometries are the result of algorithmic activity. even baroque. this view arises during the early ‘Abbasid caliphate of ninth-century Baghdad. Spanish digital animator Cristóbal Vila’s video Isfahan (2005) is a three-dimensional animated flight through an idealized mosque. which vigorously promoted intellectual activity. 1078). In the eleventh century. “rational” artwork becomes increasingly complex. New media artworks that celebrate the way images and actions arise from code and encourage participants to trace these paths are also proponents of rational unfolding. as we shall see. If an algorithm is a statement of instructions that. interlacing plots are satisfyingly fascinating. will bring about a new state or new information. based loosely on the Imam Mosque in Isfahan.1 In a way described by literary theorist ‘Abd al-Qâhir al-Jurjânî (d. Marks A first intuition of the common nature of Islamic art and new media art is often that they are visualizations of mathematics—in particular. it simultaneously stimulates and stymies desire to understand its internal relationships. and paired with the flute music of Omar Faruk Tekbilek. These films are perfectly comparable to the stratigraphic patterns of Persian carpets from the Seljuk and Safavid periods. then painted with arabesque designs that look like art nouveau. then many art forms can be said to be algorithmic. Painstakingly produced. This chapter also considers the subjective states that algorithmic artworks call up and the performative nature of algorithmic art. New media too has a neobaroque manifestation that can be seen through the film cycle Ocean’s Eleven to Ocean’s Thirteen. works whose outcome is no surprise but whose complex. The muqarnas structure of the dome is drawn in CGI wireframe. Isfahan indicates the smooth transition from algorithmic aesthetics to mysticism. The geometry characteristic of so much Islamic art certainly has an evident parallel with the patterns easily generated by computer programs.

the word came to mean a sequence of mathematical instructions. begins. and Alpay Özdural.5 Some writings on geometry in Islamic art. 925). as well as new works in all fields. so commonly associated with Islamic art. Another important mathematical innovator was al-Karajî (c. you would see a perfect Fibonacci spiral. and Abu Nasr Muhammad al-Farabî (d. built by the ‘Abbasid caliph al-Nasir for his mother in 1193. propose an ahistorical. and a host of other important acts both concrete and abstract. who introduced polynomial equations that were further developed by Leonardo Fibonacci (1170-1245). introduced the Islamic number system to Europe. 866). for example. sent his son to that city to study Arabic mathematics. including Gülrü Necipoglu.Baghdad. demonstrate. algorithm is a Latinization of al-Khwârizmî’s name. He also published a new system for solving polynomial and quadratic equations. Geometry. or “integration”. who assimilated into Arabic learning most of the works deemed important by the end of the ninth century on mathematics. or beit al-hikma. In gazing up at them. 845). was the fruit of translations from the Greek. It is as wondrous and 31 . rational way. themselves for the most part prominent scientists. including popular versions published as pattern books. the kalâm theologians argued that it is possible to deduce some of God’s actions in the world from statements in the Qur’an. But while the falâsifa emphasized that the world is an emanation from God.4 Also hard at work in ninth-century Iraq were the kalâm rationalist theologians. perforated to let in light. Geometry. and a vigorous style of rational debate. who hailed from Turkestan and worked in Aleppo. The word algebra derives from al-jabr. which arose from a polytheist culture—to monotheistic thought. made in Toledo. a three-dimensional unit that can be iterated in many different schemes to articulate an architectural surface such as a dome or niche. as many art historians. sought to adapt Greek Peripatetic ideas—a stimulating source of rational thought about the world. Abu al-Hudhayl al-‘Allaf (about 750–840. Geometry is the organizing principle of the abstract ornament so commonly associated with Islamic art and of muqarnas. and engineering. 830: Birth of the Algorithm Chapter 6 of Enfoldment and Infinity: An Islamic Genealogy of New Media Art Mathematics and the New Rationalism in Early Baghdad The ‘Abbasid caliph Harûn al-Rashid (reign 786–809) founded the House of Wisdom. which he dedicated to Frederick II of Sicily.2 The powerful new mathematics made it possible to calculate planetary motions. medicine. a scribe who worked for Pisan merchants in Bejaia. which replaced Ptolemy’s awkward chord system with the six 30 trigonometrical ratios (sine. But in fact the greatest mathematical innovations in ninth-century Baghdad involved freeing mathematics from geometry through the development of algebra. convert currency. Fibonacci’s Liber Abaci. Three brothers known as the Banû Mûsâ led a group of translators. The geometrical patterns we enjoy in Islamic art are expressions of algebraic equations. panIslamic geometric aesthetics that ignores the wide variety of artistic practices in the Muslim world. keep time in different latitudes. The early falâsifa. spiral up the interior of the tall conical vault. or philosophers building on the Greek tradition.)3 And likely inspired by Indian sources. a New Visual Culture Many scholars have examined how Islamic patterns rely on applied geometry and other kinds of mathematical knowledge. An example is the tomb of Zumurrud Khatun in Baghdad.) Both kalâm theologians and falâsifa argued that some of God’s attributes can be deduced and that the world unfolds from God in a knowable. the hotbed of translations from Arabic to Latin and other languages in the mid-twelfth century. Al-Khwarîzmî introduced Indian (commonly referred to as “Arabic”) numerals and the decimal system.6 Both muqarnas and geometric ornament developed during the ‘Abbasid caliphate and Seljuk sultanate. the Persian Platonist Abu Bakr al-Razî (d. and astrologer Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwârizmî (780–850). and Ibrahim al-Nazzam (d. tangent. astronomy. Nine levels of muqarnas. (Fibonacci’s father. including Ya’qub ibn Ishaq al-Kindî (d. He and his son Abu Jafar alMa’mûn ibn Harûn (reign 813–833) sponsored a massive movement of translations. who lived in Basra in the late eighth century. in the new capital of Baghdad. astronomer. algebra. and so forth) that we still use today. Baghdad). and his student Abu Yaqub al-Shahham (later ninth century). cosine. in his great work of 830. to elucidate the Qur’an: they include Dirar ibn ‘Amr. Algeria. Yasser Tabbaa. (This achievement would be invaluable to medieval Christian theologians. Gerard of Cremona’s translation. The chief librarian of the House of Wisdom was the great Persian mathematician. “Dixit Algorismus” (al-Khwârizmî says) and from there. Euclid’s Elements came into Arabic through the translation of al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf ibn Matar (786–833) (whence Abelard of Bath would translate it into Latin in the twelfth century). 950). subdivide land. a relatively indigenous group of thinkers who sought to use reason. 953–c. an invaluable breakthrough for calculation. 1029). Islamic mathematicians were developing modern trigonometry as early as the eighth century. But geometric art dates historically to the ninth and tenth centuries and relates to the philosophical and religious thought of the time. such as the square root of two.

His aesthetic theory helps in understanding how someone of his time might have engaged with visual art as well. even if they would not recognize a polynomial equation. Bier argues that a textile pattern occurring all along the Silk Road. and indeed it became one of the bases 32 of new visual forms in the tenth century. though subjective. Clearly.15 As Oliver Leaman puts it. nonstate organization of African societies. aesthetics. or self-similar and contain an infinite length within a finite boundary—are typically and culturally African and that they are produced through conscious acts of abstraction.14 This was ultimately a rationalist.” that is. were probably read by architects. Historians dispute whether they understood the complexity of the mathematics they were applying.8 In another context. potters. and subjective response. became popular culture throughout the Muslim world in the ninth and tenth centuries. were works on poetry.13 Wearers of this luxurious cloth might have enjoyed using it to demonstrate their grasp of the new mathematical knowledge. it is algebra embodied. the listener (or. a design of coin-like roundels arranged in a grid. the better it is. Bier’s focus on creative process allows her to suggest that “the artistic production of repeated patterns may become deeply meaningful as meditation for the individual pattern maker. the viewer) needs to mentally bridge the image with its object. This is the case for both the artisan producing geometric forms and for the person contemplating them. and other media. scalable. not symbolically. Early Islamic thought supports the view that Islamic art invites a time-based. which gave practitioners access to theoretical knowledge and geometers a chance to apply their knowledge. Ron Eglash instructively handles the question of mathematical intentionality in African Fractals: Modern Computing and Indigenous Design.] but in the sense of being an aspect of the organization of the world.11 It may well have arisen from the meetings of artisans and geometers Abu al-Wafâ’ attended.7 Necipoglu points out that the popular mathematical-mystical writings of the Ikhwân al-Safâ. in this age when mathematics inspired so much respect. 830: Birth of the Algorithm Chapter 6 of Enfoldment and Infinity: An Islamic Genealogy of New Media Art satisfying as observing the same pattern in the seeds of a sunflower. contemplative. and the new technologies they enabled. calculating the square root of three. He argues that fractal patterns—patterns that are recursive. Geometry is experiential. “The 33 . Carol Bier. braiders of hair—to know the abstract form of the algorithm. not something behind it.1] Mathematics. who is enmeshed in a process at once unitary and systematic. embodies applied mathematics. I would add.9 He suggests that this ubiquitous aesthetic form responds to the bottom-up. a compass. Poetry relies on associations between images. This book. just as in our times some knowledge of how computers work is valuable cultural capital. She suggests that artists working with pattern would have assimilated the principles of applied geometry without a symbolic knowledge of geometry or algorithm. so they too imply an engagement that is experiential and not just abstract. [figure 6. The kalâm theologians and falâsifa argued that both perception and inference are sources of knowledge. Replicating al-Khwârizmî’s method of teaching algebra by placing coins on a cloth. Algorithmic Aesthetics The rational appreciation of beauty is like admiring an algorithm—and the more complex and ultimately resolved the mental distances traversed. artisans in Muslim societies have carried out complex geometries with a meaningful consciousness. Similarly.12 Özdural pictures Abu al-Wafâ’s figure proving the Pythagorean theorem. attending to the physical activities of artisans working in tile. in which mindlessness and mindfulness become one. the falâsifa emphasized the role of the intellect in perception and understanding. stucco. and basic mathematical knowledge. thus placing their faith in both the perceptible world and the action of the perceiver. or Brethren of Purity. al-Farabî argued. subtraction. The figure looks just like certain tile patterns. and squares and square roots. this pattern demonstrates algebraic problems of addition. points out that applying geometrical principles would be materially different in each case. such as one in which they discussed the problem of “composing a square from three squares. the aesthetics of the falâsifa value “art where the representation of the world is clearly perceived as symbolic of a deeper structure which lies behind the appearance [. builders would have been consulting works like Abu al-Wafâ’ alBuzjânî’s (940–998) book on applied geometry.” The person viewing these patterns may also enter a meditative state. written by a mathematician-astronomer. was intended to teach artisans the basic principles of geometry that were relevant to architecture. who hailed from Turkestan and worked in Aleppo. multiplication. Artisans could produce two-dimensional patterns with a ruler.Baghdad.”16 Among the writings of the great philosopher al-Farabî.10 It is noteworthy that al-Khwârizmî’s algebra expresses equations in prose. not imitations of nature. textiles. Like Ibn al-Haytham. On What the Artisan Requires of Geometric Constructions. Eglash’s example suggests that algorithms can be meaningfully and consciously carried out without the need for the practitioners—builders.

and visual art. which it contains in microcosm. the Shi‘a doctrine we explore in chapter 8. The Brethren of Purity. neo-Pythagoreanism.”18 You can see how this subjective process mimics the algorithmic process by which such patterns were formed. believed that true knowledge remains in a state of latency until one who is qualified comes to make it manifest. yet their ideas proved popular and influential. The fundamental relationship structuring the universe is God’s unity and the universe’s multiplicity to which it gives rise. which implies bringing together opposites in a comparison: the word’s etymology implies both “antithetical objects” and “similar objects. the shapes. The ideas of al-Farabî emphasize that geometric patterns express visually the way unity rationally gives rise to infinity. Though he was no Neoplatonist. Similarly. Pythagoras had conceived of the cosmos as the fundamentally arithmetical. A sense of unity and well-being rewards the contemplation of geometric harmonies. angular geometric shapes.”23 The intermediate position of mathematics elevates the mind of a viewer so inclined.” and aesthetic pleasure arises from the unity achieved over this distance. as the parts of the square. algorithmic art forms are characterized by a state of latency. When the 35 . The geometric patterns made by repeating. Listening to music. according to al-Farabî. the soul resonates with the harmony of the spheres. and one can no more deny that it is really there. and the goal of aesthetics is to discover this harmony. than that the colors. Necipoglu argues that the growing taste for geometric abstraction in the late tenth and early eleventh-century Islamic world responds to a widely diffused Neoplatonist worldview. and pentagon are related to each other. poetics. early Islamic poetry pursued the aesthetic strategy of tibaq. or antithesis. “Our teachers used to say that one’s application to geometry does to the mind what soap does to a garment. translated into Arabic by the tenth century. inversion. etc.Baghdad. mirroring. like other Isma‘ilis. much as the universe unfolds from God in emanationist thought. as Lisa Golombek and Donald Wilber point out. and throughout the purely physical world.27 Algorithmic Performativity Early theories of geometry suggest that geometric forms unfold in time. and multiplication. is based on “a harmony of parts. the Ikhwân al-Safâ or Brethren of Purity. division. Yet these same aesthetics can lead the mind into mystery.”21 Imagination is subjective but impersonal in these theories: they suggest that we humans. multiplying. Proclus emphasized the capacity of geometry to elevate the mind: “Mathematics occupies a middle position between the intelligible and the sense worlds and exhibits within itself many likenesses of divine things and also many paradigms of physical relations. the Islamic system. It appears in the work of bees. The Brethren were Isma‘ilis.”22 In his commentary on Euclid’s Elements. and other falâsifa.17 Similarly. of objects are there. triangle. Both the artist and the viewer or listener partake in the same imaginative faculty. Neoplatonist. giving rise to systems of form through multiplication. so do prophets and dreamers. In fact. of crystals. whereby all parts were related to a single entity. like the bees who somehow know to build hexagonal structures. In the tenth century. Their philosophy would not have met the approval of Sunni orthodoxy. and Pythagorean thought with the new mathematics of alFarabî and al-Kindî. The reason for this is that geometry is well arranged and orderly. bees building honeycombs and spiders spinning webs. the great Sunni sociologist Ibn Khaldun (1332–1406) echoed Proclus when he wrote. It 34 washes off stains and cleanses it of grease and dirt. based in the southern seaport town of Basra.19 This aesthetic approach is concerned not with individual creativity but with an intuition that gets one in touch with the divine.”28 Geometric forms thus unfold from a central form. and rotating shapes around an axis are the plastic equivalent of tibaq. Admiring a geometric (or other complex and symmetrical) form involves mentally comparing things that are similar and things that are opposites. they wrote. The ‘Abbasid caliph al-Qadir (reign 991–1031) forbade speculative Mu’tazili and Shi‘a teachings and sought a unifying semiotics that would visually crystallize Sunni thought in “algebraically definable. are using our imaginative faculties to get in touch with the divine order. published an encyclopedia that synthesized Gnostic. al-Kindî. Another influential philosophy in this period.20 This nonhuman quality of thought that is imagination recurs some centuries later in the writings of Charles Sanders Peirce: “Thought is not necessarily connected with a brain. 830: Birth of the Algorithm Chapter 6 of Enfoldment and Infinity: An Islamic Genealogy of New Media Art success of the image or phrase is in direct proportion to the distance between their literal meaning. perfectly harmonious emanation of God. argued that the universe has an objective harmony.”24 Sunni revival aesthetics pursued the elevating and mind-cleansing (as Ibn Khaldun suggested) qualities of mathematics in music. While Western geometric design principles are based on the repetition of similar forms.26 The Ikhwân al-Safâ adapted the Pythagorean music of the spheres to argue that a geometric harmony structures the universe.25 NeoPythagorean thought arose in the tenth-century Islamic world and continued to exert its influence well into the European Renaissance.

each column. they were like miniature diagrams of the universe. namely the magic square: a square composed of numbers arranged so that the numbers in each row. the combinatorial poems of Raymond Queneau. and Gysin and Burroughs. and computer science. the twentieth-century computational art of John Cage. The state of latency in algorithmic Islamic art invites a high degree of participation on the part of the viewer. computer science. The Ikhwân al-Safâ popularized a powerful and portable way to demonstrate the harmony of the universe. and the diagonals add up to the same sum. for example. computer media. like Islamic art. argues Valérie Gonzalez. As such. and includes discussions of Llull’s and Kircher’s debt to Islamic science. seemingly magical effects. which doubtless added to their effectiveness. 830: Birth of the Algorithm Chapter 6 of Enfoldment and Infinity: An Islamic Genealogy of New Media Art algorithm is carried out. This abstract line of computational magic reaches into the nineteenth century to George Boole and Charles Babbage. choreography. the universe may collapse back into the fundamental 36 unity that begat it. Painting. and the image may remain latent. which work through all possible combinations of a set of fundamental units such as numbers or letters. Moreover. In computer media. and the esoteric symbolism of letters used on them. equations of a symbolic source code to the operations of the universe. as in much Islamic art. Someone looking up at that pattern might take the opportunity to reflect on the paths of reason that lead to inevitable truths simply by following it with his eyes. what is latent becomes manifest. Cramer deepens the history of mystical combinatorial systems earlier traced by Janet Zweig. and new age religion attempt to do the same. has a direct lineage in the Brethren’s magic squares.32 Magic squares were popular in Shi‘a-leaning Persia and North Africa from the tenth to the fourteenth centuries. conceptually. in that they bring out image and movement selectively.30 but it is interesting that she brings together across history two universalist points of view: Husserl’s transcendental phenomenology and the Ikhwân al-Safâ’s neo-Pythagoreanism. [figure 6. image is a manifestation of algorithmic activity. both high and popular. Gonzalez writes. that algorithm may remain inactive. much as modernist art would. Scholars now pursue parallels between Islamic art and twentieth-century findings in mathematics. Fluxus instruction-based art. and spiritually.Baghdad.”29 Gonzalez is rather ahistorical here.”34 Thus software that works through condensed images. The knowledge of how to make magic squares. The dome of the Comares Hall at the Alhambra. they are still popular as amulets.36 This topic was recently popularized in the “discovery” that Iranian and Uzbek tiling predates by five hundred years the Western development of the nonperiodic. the Brethren may have learned about this device from Chinese seafarers. music composition. Latency on the part of the artwork invites activity on the part of the participant. Looking up at a geometrically patterned dome invokes geometry kinetically. often specifically mathematical in nature. appeal to mysticism in part because of the notion that once all the combinations are exhausted. are characteristically performative.33 Into these histories we must insert the missing link of Islamic Neoplatonism. Situationist dérive. Florian Cramer’s deep history of executable code points out that Pythagorean harmonies performed adjustments in the structure of the cosmos.35 Tibaq in New Media Art Algorithmic aesthetics returned to prominence in twentieth-century art. to the Renaissance allegorical images that condensed operations into emblems. music and magic squares focused cosmic forces into crystalline forms with active powers. quasicrystalline patterns known as Pen37 . science. The Ikhwân al-Safâ belong in a profound historical lineage of computational devices that have performative. As Schuyler Cammann wrote. Combinatorial systems. such as contemporary musical and image programs like MAX-MSP. physics. were secrets. Oulipo. the desktop icons invented in Xerox PARC in the 1970s are images that enact computer commands. is “a geometry of the spiritual path from matter to the highest abstract spheres.2] For the neo-Pythagorean Brethren. Siegfried Zielinski also explores the roots of computational magic with detail and gusto. as a proliferation of pattern or a musical sequence. In our time. However. from the ancient Hebrew text Sefer Yetzirah and the I Ching.31 Based in the seaport of Basra. particularly the mathematical mysticism of the Brethren of Purity. through the protocomputational devices invented by the fourteenth-century Catalan monk Ramon Llull and the seventeenth-century Jesuit priest Athanasius Kircher. suggesting movement in space. as what Edmund Husserl calls “an object for pure consciousness”. Geometry is experiential on three levels. conceptual artworks. structuralist filmmaking: many disciplines built artworks around sets of instructions. the algorithmicity of the works is the basis of their aesthetics: we admire the way they draw attention to their algorithms in executing them. At least the first of these three experiences would be available to any person standing under this dome. Later they would decorate the talismanic shirts of Ottoman sultans. The Brethren’s practice of magical computation “anticipates the modeling of culture through software.

the more one comes to understand its algorithm and to play with it through the interface. Then she can see her own work of concrete poetry in relation to the constructions of other anonymous participants—her new neighbors. sometimes critically. But when you approach it. sad. and so forth). relating images to the code that produced them in pleasingly complex ways. far from being the manifestation of a divine order. So a visitor feels compelled to write for maximum clarity and complexity. Similarly. yet implicit. The geometric shapes themselves start to shimmy and dance. in the final formulation. become ghosts that the artwork only hints at in its translation. [figure 6. Zineb Sedira’s Une Génération de Femmes (1997) inserts light-colored digital portraits of the women of her family into a traditional repetitive geometric pattern. you see that the patterns are in fact scenes of people being tortured. was suppressed. Forouhar says. Apartment translates words typed by the user into the floor plan of an apartment where words construct rooms. Rational. which lasted until the Mongol invasion of Baghdad in 1258. and the call of “Allahu akbar!” at the beginning. At a metalevel the program categorizes the “apartments” according to criteria of content (vision. to write something. it shows that seemingly disparate parts all reflect on a deep and purposeful unity. restored the ‘Abbasids to power. presence in Muslim society. signal a religious context. The image consists of geometrical ornament such as decorates the monuments of the strictest Sunni Islam.” these words will float in dreamy spirals in the “bedroom”. glamour. Engaging with the piece. in order to view the “apartment complexes” that have aggregated. because. that is. The title.38 Contemporary information-based artwork that demonstrates the clarity of its algorithms. [figure 6. 830: Birth of the Algorithm Chapter 6 of Enfoldment and Infinity: An Islamic Genealogy of New Media Art rose tiles after the mathematical physicist Roger Penrose. frowned on by her teachers in Iran. in synesthetic reciprocity with the music. is a clear parallel to the “mind-cleansing” geometrical artwork associated with Sunni Islam. who encouraged an (outdated) Euro-style naturalism. aah. Sunni theology gained power and the thought of the kalâm and falsafa.Baghdad. If you type “ooh.3] Apartment’s beauty as network art is that it creates a sense of community among apartment builders. The Seljuks. the quality of elegance in an equation consists in the vast amount of calculation that is invisible. The work suggests that women have a structural. often quite amusingly. the ‘Abbasid caliphate in Baghdad weakened and succumbed to an invasion by the Buyids. A visitor is required to participate. 38 sometimes in traditional ways. Elegance is an index of logical depth. In the tenth century. In the resulting Sunni revival. performative. Two works in the seemingly innocuous medium of wallpaper use repetition to denaturalize cultural and political patterns. submitting to the logic of the algorithm in order to produce the most beautiful and interesting word apartment that will delight or mystify visitors to come. as al-Farabî said of poetry. Then the Great Seljuks overwhelmed Baghdad in 1036 in a wave of colonization that continued almost to Constantinople. Apartment is an example of a new media work whose algorithm holds up to scrutiny and is the basis of a satisfying work of art. one gradually learns its algorithm.37 Indeed Islamic tilework and carpets grace the covers of many math textbooks—both because mathematical concepts are difficult to illustrate visually and in homage to the heritage of these concepts in the Muslim world. “rational” artwork came to be associated with conservative ideology. provocatively titled Allahu Akbar (2003). A digital animation by Iraqi-American artist Usama Alshaibi. Parastou Forouhar’s Thousand and One Day (2003) at first glance looks like wallpaper with a regular pattern of beige-colored motifs. a rash of violent words will be relegated to the “closet”. crystallize from histories of violence. poetic. a mathematician who knows the codes can appreciate the skill with which they are concealed. Their peaceful minimal style calls to mind Persian miniatures—an inheritance. a program that builds “apartments” according to categories of words. and rewarding slow and subjective discovery: this describes Marek Walczak and Martin Wattenberg’s elegant long-term Web artwork Apartment (2001–).4] From Algorithmic to Baroque Historically. Visitors’ original writings. The new religious constraints in the Sunni world shaped theology and art.39 These works critique algorithmic aesthetics by arguing that patterns of information. Artists in the Muslim world have drawn on traditions of algorithmic repetition. with a new emphasis on artifice and extreme 39 . or silly. a Shi‘a dynasty from Persia. These images are all the more horrific because they are rendered as schematic digital drawings. But this high-minded image is paired with thumping Arabic-techno dance music that appeals to a very earthly and embodied state: it sings directly to the viewer’s hips. cheekily brings the body into algorithmic performance while remaining aniconic. as well as Shi‘ism. who practiced a strict Sunni Islam. typing “wash wash wash” will produce a churning spin cycle. The more one engages with Apartment. if nearly invisible. words not in its dictionary float outside the apartment’s walls.

As Necipoglu argues. but al-Jurjânî was the first to raise it to a spiritual level and value individual creation and invention above all else. the more fascination the images will possess and the more deserving of praise for their skill their creators will be.44 We hear in his writings an elaboration of al-Farabî’s argument that the perception of beauty arises from mental operations. is also.41 Similarly. Justification for this view is often based on Qur’an 3:43.” musawwir (Qur’an 59:24). It is as exciting and amazing to reveal the existence of something in a place in which it is not known to belong. revealing the harmony of God’s universe: a sense of unity that brings joy and ease. This view.40 The artwork sponsored by these powers favors geometric interlace patterns (such as that pictured here from fourteenth-century Fez) and muqarnas. who ruled many regions from Anatolia to Persia until the Mongol invasion of 1258. Originality consists not in invention but in skillful new variations on a theme. created by God out of nothing. and when it emerges from a source that is not its usual one. . .”49 Since al-Jurjânî allows that some of these skills pertain to art forms other than poetry. His criteria point inward to a work of art rather than outward from the work of art to the world: in order to appreciate a poem. As Abu Deeb puts it. as it is to create something which does not exist at all.48 Al-Jurjânî also argued that in images produced by “all crafts and artistic activities which are associated with subtlety. Al-Jurjânî cautioned: the poet must not bludgeon the listener with an obvious simile. and to which nothing can be added. a listener must accept the universe of images that the poet establishes. as we shall see. “Intimacy is created in the soul if it is led from hidden or veiled knowledge to clear knowledge. It is traditional that Islamic artists do not consider themselves to be creators. in such a world. Ibn al-Haytham and the falsafa also valued imagination as one of the internal faculties.41 these become increasingly complex over time. In their emphasis on artifice. we can apply his theory of creative reception to visual art as well: as an imaginative viewer gazes on a work of art.42 But these passages did not acquire their force until theologians argued that God’s world is already perfect and nothing can be added to it. are well suited to modern aesthetics. but in showing the relationships among existing things in elegant and delightful ways.47 Al-Jurjânî shows a fascination with what is obscured and suddenly revealed: Human nature is so created. proposed a structuralist poetics that. though the same word is used for painters. who lived his entire life in Gurgan. 830: Birth of the Algorithm Chapter 6 of Enfoldment and Infinity: An Islamic Genealogy of New Media Art complexity. What the imagination does is discover hidden affinities between seemingly disparate things.43 The new Sunni revival thought diminished the importance of reason. Rather than value morality and truth as do Aristotelian poetics. which were also influential in the Muslim world at this time. al-Ash‘ari argued with great force. the soul feels deeper fondness of. is useful for disciplines like science but will not lead to salvation. wrote texts that were widely influential not only in his time but also in the revival of Arab poetics in the twentieth century. preferred less evident visual strategies.5] These forms rarely appear in the art of the Isma‘ili Shi‘a Fatimid caliphate. and from the implicit to the explicit. from the revelation of 41 . which. Rather beauty arises from the pleasure of artifice. Iran. for that would be to compete with God. fineness and skill . an ‘Abbasid shadow caliphate in Cairo from 1260 to 1517.Baghdad. an attitude of the European baroque and of certain new media spectacles. it is always the case that the more widely different in shape and appearance their parts are and the more perfect the harmony achieved between these parts is. where only God or someone enabled by him (Jesus) can make a clay bird and then breathe life into it. 1078). and the Mamluks.45 This is not creation ex nihilo. as we will see in chapter 8. Imitating nature is not the source of beauty in Islamic art of this period. he gradually discovers subtle affinities among its parts. consists not of creating something from nothing. that when something appears whence it is not usually expected to appear. geometric art dominated visual culture across the disparate lands that bore allegiance to the ‘Abbasids and their orthodox Sunnism: these included the Seljuks. The conservative doctrine of Abu al-Hasan al-Ash‘ari (873–935). maintained in Sunni orthodoxy. Kamal Abu Deeb argues. the Almoravids. held that the world is finite. and greater affection for it. In all of these cases. This is a sublimely delicate process. it usually is not in computer-based art either. Asrâr al-balaghah 40 (The Secrets of Eloquence). Aesthetic pleasure results from unexpected unfolding. both Sunni revival Islamic art and new media art share qualities of the baroque. God alone is a “fashioner. al-Jurjânî valued creativity and imagination (takhyîl). The literary theorist and theologian ‘Abd al-Qahir al-Jurjânî (d. [figure 6. Rationality. which came to dominate Sunni Islam. who ruled the Maghreb and Spain from 1056 to 1137. Al-Jurjânî’s treatise on poetry. the “ideological statement of Sunni Islam”. Art. the result for aesthetics is that the artwork favors extremely complex interrelationships that ultimately stymie a rational response.”46 This is as true in reception as it is in creation: the listener uses imagination in order to appreciate the relations that structure the poem. and human instinctive and innate qualities are such. or whose very existence is not realized.

a matrix of points of light. further challenging the mind as to what is structure. very well. 830: Birth of the Algorithm Chapter 6 of Enfoldment and Infinity: An Islamic Genealogy of New Media Art hitherto unseen relationships. in its later variations. Baroque painting is a cloud of distracting.6] Often the muqarnas units are themselves decorated. decidedly baroque. the “false unity” of individual phenomena must be stripped away in order for them to “partake of the genuine unity of truth. divesting phenomena of their sensuous qualities in order to reveal their connections to a greater. instead they delight and baffle. All being is surface. Islamic and computer art have in common the baroque quality that the perceptible surface is not a window into depth. A muqarnas vault at the Friday Mosque at Isfahan. but opaque.”52 Allegory functions for Benjamin as geometry often did in medieval Islamic art. so each element in the shimmering surface itself flickers with light and dark. made a statement about the cognitive value of complex harmony that almost exactly echoes al-Jurjânî. Owen Jones. Benjamin’s thought is closer to that of Isma‘ili Shi‘ism and to the synthesis between the two performed by Ibn Sînâ. Benjamin argued that in baroque theater. the design reformer and student of the Alhambra whose 1852 pattern book was so wildly influential. originality consists in finding interesting paths through a database:50 a criterion close to al-Jurjânî’s. for example. There is no meaning to dig for. as in the facade and interior of baroque architecture. And interestingly.) In The Origin of German Tragic Drama. [figure 6. Al-Jurjânî’s criteria call to mind the voracious yet discriminating consumers of computer games. in the influential formulation of Walter Benjamin. presents an undulating surface of stars and fan shapes that are sometimes concave.56 Like computer art and Islamic art. His aesthetics emphasize the in-between status of geometry and other forms that mediate between the world of the senses and the world of abstract ideas. As Grahame Weinbren says of new media. Deleuze characterizes the baroque aesthetics of Leibniz as concerned with a level that is visible and a level that is legible. bring the recipient into confrontation with a divine order—an act that will be exalting or terrifying depending on your point of view.57 This describes computational art. shimmering with facets. The common baroque allegories of the skull and the ruin. the baroque “tends to invade space in every direction.Baghdad. A good computer game must be satisfyingly complex and reveal relationships embedded in the software from interesting angles. These muqarnas no longer invite a calm contemplation of the orderliness of the universe. Much more could be explored in this comparison between al-Jurjânî’s poetics of algorithmic complexity and Benjamin’s allegory. what is ornament.”54 (The next chapter pursues Tabbaa’s argument that the muqarnas dome reflects an atomistic worldview. later muqarnas domes become very complex.”55 A similar model of relations of unfolding appears in Deleuze’s Le Pli: Leibniz et le baroque. While the early muqarnas domes are pleasing to look up at because of their rational harmonies. for sense is simply the other side or the lining of that surface. including the Neoplatonist idea that the phenomenal world emanates from the ideal or divine world. a theory not at odds with the characterization of the muqarnas as baroque. for example. but in an obscure way that must be interpreted. Creativity in this scheme lies not in creation anew but in a pleasingly subtle translation from information to perceptible image.) Later Persian muqarnas are covered with colorful floral and geometric patterned tiles. both Islamic and computer based.7] In all these examples. to become as one with all its possibilities. Rather. The typically Is42 lamic architectural feature of muqarnas becomes. delicately and with difficulty.58 43 . sometimes convex. without duality: a fabric stretched to infinity.53 For now I wish simply to emphasize that they both privilege a baroque style of artifice that would. to perforate it. Both strains of medieval Islamic thought have the qualities of allegory. Another result of the focus on artifice in Islamic art of this period is that the surface of an artwork is independent of its underlying structure. color. in baroque art the visible skin is the expression or unfoldment of a legible level of information. abstract truth. whirling forms. concealing emptiness. “that shape.”51 Al-Jurjânî’s poetics lead to a sense of divine harmony only if the recipient is willing to pursue a demanding process of mental comparison. and it must do so with a satisfying rhythm. (In this second sense. and luminosity are accidents which by definition are subject to continuous change according to the will of God. demonstrating. Leibniz and Deleuze propose. Iran. to use the terms of enfolding-unfolding aesthetics. as in Renaissance painting and the cinema. the artwork’s perceptible aspect does not evoke the source from which it unfolded. And yet the Baroque characteristically conceals the fact that there is nothing underneath by making the surface overwhelmingly complex: folding it. [figure 6. One of his propositions for ornament is that it should be based on proportional relationships but that “those proportions will be the most beautiful which it will be most difficult for the eye to detect. as Tabbaa argues. Indeed Benjamin’s ideas seem very much at home with the esoteric strains of Islamic thought. show the futility of vanity and worldly pursuits.

neobaroque cinema is an entirely contemporary phenomenon. . allows it and authorizes it) will be the infinite work of a mourning—that of a missing Object. The Matrix. and the neobaroque spectacles of our age. interactivity is a perfect vehicle for the ideas of democracy and equality. Post-communist artists. We have a beautiful model of the CGI wireframe from that early proponent of the abstract line.” whose interface allows us to explore and admire the database and the algorithms that organize it. its symmetries so satisfyingly complex that it can be admired at any angle. are associated with an absolutist state. the essence of all power is to tend toward the absolute. A politics of mystification finds a convenient ally in mysticism—in all the periods being examined here. deep space and the long take yielded a contact with materiality and an immanent spirituality. Western media artists usually take technology absolutely seriously and despair when it does not work. the abstract.”61 The visual analog of this impossible representation is literally a horror vacui. as well as digitally generated blockbusters like the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter series. its closed infinity that lacks an outside. a circumscribed perfection removed from history and thence from dialectical process. it is another form of manipulation. most commonly the baroque art of late sixteenthand early seventeenth-century Europe and Latin America. that moves forward causally into a future that is unknown. Its roots are in both the early montage aesthetic of Sergei Eisenstein and the realist aesthetic of André Bazin. and Strange Days. it is part of its reality never to console itself for not reaching it. and it is the complexity and subtlety of the script. describing the dazzling and incomprehensible mass art promoted in times of strong state control. the script is the algorithm giving rise to the narrative. William Hogarth. “In creating a world rather than a narrative. rather than explicate. on the other hand. as to have nothing of it left but a thin shell . giving that promise of infinite variety. in turn. is a perversion of Bazinian realism: neobaroque movies look full. .64 Similarly. that we are invited to admire. . the Spanish and Italian baroque of the seventeenth century. populated with more activity than the eye can see. The neobaroque cinema he discusses.59 Computer media too often obfuscate. . while Sean Cubitt argues that the digital cinema of our age is neobaroque. like The Usual Suspects. of the Absolute. But this is only an appearance of worldly infinity: in fact. in style if not technically—a “Where’s Waldo” aesthetic where the dazzled eye can no longer decide what is important. linear construction underlying it. . creates a total world. the ideology of divine rule imposed a state with no outside.Baghdad. and that neobaroque howler Snake Eyes. the neobaroque seeks . The baroque parallel is political as much as aesthetic. For the East. . . Representation (of which power is the effect and which. In Cubitt’s analysis.”63 Neobaroque films include elaborate conspiracy movies like The Usual Suspects. Those computer-based works that deemphasize performativity and instead emphasize the viewer’s wonder and lack of agency in front of the spectacle may also be characterized as baroque. who in 1753 described an object with “its inward contents scoop’d out so nicely. 44 Sean Cubitt characterizes digital mass media images as baroque for similar reasons. according to Cubitt. reflecting both the database and algorithmic qualities of digital media and contemporary corporate capitalism’s tendency toward closure. will always break down. In Islamic caliphates as well as European monarchies. Cubitt compares the neobaroque cinema to a computer-graphic wireframe model. A “visual theatricality which strikes the eye and subjugates the gaze”62 characterizes not only the European baroque buildings but also the spectacles of Sunni revival palaces and mosques. and let us likewise imagine this shell to be made up of very fine threads. its “algorithmic elegance”—not the story but the script. Strange Days. .60 Necipoglu and Tabbaa make similar assertions about the art of the Sunni revival. the neobaroque’s visual plenitude is algorithmically generated. Hence this parallel requires a discussion of the relationship of politics and aesthetics in three place-times: the Sunni revival of the eleventh century. .”65 In neobaroque cinema. . A “gotcha” thriller like The Usual Suspects or Woody Allen’s Match Point 45 . The imagination will naturally enter into the vacant space within this shell. We appreciate it for its seamlessness. These films are what Manovich calls “database narratives. 830: Birth of the Algorithm Chapter 6 of Enfoldment and Infinity: An Islamic Genealogy of New Media Art Baroque Politics and Aesthetics In “On Totalitarian Interactivity” Lev Manovich recalls his Soviet upbringing to explain his suspicion of the promises of new media: For the West. “In the political realm. recognize that the nature of technology is that it does not work. a fear of the void. will never work as it is supposed to. in which the artist uses advanced technology to impose his/her totalitarian will on the people. closely connected together. Cubitt contrasts this spectacular cinema to a cinema that is open to the world. the relationship between the perceptible image and the underlying algorithm. Realism permitted exploration of the world in all its mystery and freshness. In Bazin’s realism. The neobaroque cinema. Artworks of baffling complexity.

locking it in an elegant wireframe cage. Las Vegas is a city that wears information. and what is the point or the moral if there are too many interweaving narratives? Later Ernst Gombrich thoughtfully reversed the Orientalist cliché by terming Islamic overall patterns not horror vacui. we observe a gradual shift in focus from human and moral issues to the complex network of relationships between the casino’s financial system and the underworld systems interlaced with it. This is a digital artwork that invites reflection on its medium in modernist style. it facilitates a language of information that was already in place. “The Taming of the Horror Vacui in Islamic Art. As Dave Hickey notes. only to remain engrossed in theirs.67 This “stratigraphic” method culminated in late-sixteenth-century carpets produced for the Safavid Persian court. for how can you know who is the protagonist. and senses. The carpet “subgenre” I look at here is the spiral-tendril carpet. the new carpets do not soothe the mind with algorithms so much as pose it tantalizing puzzles. while only hinting provocatively at how it is produced. whereby the spectator or player alternates between being absorbed in the narrative and enjoying the attraction. either to keep knowledge private (proprietary software) or to emphasize the spectacle.Baghdad. which depict a world of baffling complexity whose internal relationships are fascinating to comprehend but impossible to master.69 Yet as Seyyed Hossain Nasr insists. on its surface. . Indeed. the fear of complex pattern reflects a fear of the void—a perfectly reasonable fear.68 A generation of Western art historians reacted with aversion to the proliferation of pattern in much Islamic art. of the technological means by which it came about. Baroque Fascination in Persian Carpets and Casino Movies Al-Jurjânî’s criteria splendidly describe the caper subgenre of casino films. The increasing complexity of caper films reflects an increasing concern with information rather than image or. 830: Birth of the Algorithm Chapter 6 of Enfoldment and Infinity: An Islamic Genealogy of New Media Art (2005) is especially satisfying at the end. in its textures and colors. in Tom Gunning’s term. 47 .” Ettinghausen’s rather disparaging title requires a digression. “There is an aspect of nothingness or void which lies in the very nature of the whole created order and which is a direct consequence of the fact that. which are characteristically neobaroque and also compare significantly to the carpets of sixteenth-century Persia. the infinity revealed in interleaved patterns is in a constant play with the void. but amor infinity—a love of infinity. only God is real. put another way. because in Las Vegas. The aesthetics that Cubitt calls neobaroque are more typical of commercial media—movies. between enjoying a large. in the complexity of its pattern. But they are not really interested in empowering the viewer or player to imagine another kind of world. Hickey sardonically adds that the city frustrates “cultural critics” who are used to digging for information. to which I will return. beautiful carpet in the company of a group seated on it and going to the movies. in the form of money.”70 In short. The arabesque enables the void to enter into the very heart of matter. status and potential are entirely about money. moral questions and narrative openness drop out in favor of an amoral yet pleasing closed system. . making their algorithmic workings fairly transparent. In the development of casino movies from the original Ocean’s Eleven (1960) to the genre’s masterwork. Richard Ettinghausen analyzed this effect in an influential 1979 article. whose intertwining lines suggest the narrative sequences of a film. allowing both distraction and absorption. I focus on casino movies because their subject is 46 already numerical. . rather. There is a lot of similarity. These tend to obscure their algorithmic process. In Steven Soderbergh’s neobaroque film cycle Ocean’s Eleven (2001) to Ocean’s Thirteen (2007). With a complexity that perception cannot manage. but digital editing does not cause the algorithmic aesthetic. Both are collective yet individual pleasures. a beautiful Persian carpet appeals to both intellect. games. and software. Above I discussed Walczak and Wattenberg’s Apartment as a contemporary parallel to the geometric artworks that encourage rational appreciation. Las Vegas requires not interpretation but calculation. the pleasure of digital cinema and games consists of a kind of toggle effect. And so I turn to a series of films that I enjoy immensely.66 Like a good neobaroque film. relatively unvarnished by narrative. carpet weavers for the Seljuks in Anatolia developed a method of layering up to four decorative schemes for a three-dimensional effect. Martin Scorsese’s Casino (1995). The notion of horror vacui originates in the “spatial anxiety” that Wilhelm Worringer attributed to the crowded linear patterns of Oriental and Nordic art. after all. In the fourteenth century. Algorithmic qualities have been heightened since the advent of digital editing. when it reveals that all of the film’s seemingly random occurrences were complexly interrelated. in an absolute sense. Their reaction reflects Western preferences for a clear distinction between figure and ground—something that is a key element of narrative cinema too. with the algorithmic deployment of database information rather than character-driven narrative.

including those made under the Shi‘a regime of the Safavids. but perceives the whole as a lacy ground cover. It is not an extensive infinity but an intensive infinity. [figure 6.” Cubitt writes. former carpet curator at the Pergamonmuseum in Berlin. it becomes astonishing to see three of them overlap each other. Turkish Ushak. carpets’ complex patterns were designed by painters of illustrated manuscripts. makes a fascinating comment on the combination of “infinite” patterning and a finite surface. Kurt Erdmann considered the painting-based innovations to violate the internal norms of carpet design as an “outside intervention” that interrupted “the true and characteristic evolution of the carpet. enriching the relationship between parts. Carpets made after Seljuk times.75 Their complex designs complemented European baroque interiors and surely facilitated their owners’ pleasurable contemplation of the void. such as one of a carpet made in Isfahan during the reign of Shah Safi.77 Writing about some carpets from this period. with editor Thelma Schoonmaker taking advantage of the new medium’s capacity for paral49 . They were full of flowers and curling vines that radiated from a central medallion. (And the strange-looking Caucasian carpets are like bootleg software—low-resolution compressions that imitate Persian designs but become more and more geometric. a spatial orchestration of events whose specific attraction is its elaboration of narrative premise into pattern.72 Early twentieth-century German scholars and curators seem to have been especially keen to master and comprehend the mind-boggling patterns of these carpets. to extend the comparison.”71 The Seljuk. Scholars with a functionalist bent bemoan this development. developing elaborate variations on a known theme. revealing the machinery behind the illusion as bootlegs tend to do. and other motifs that traveled from the Far East after the pax Mongolica.9] They emphasize the carpets’ symmetry around one or two axes to a much greater extent than the carpets themselves do. Erdmann. just 48 as their prominence and price were rising in the West.Baghdad. already bafflingly dense at some points. becoming thicker and denser. its reorganization of time as space.) By the sixteenth century. published in 1926 in an important early book on carpets. “As we reach the end of a film like Snake Eyes. The new patterns abandoned the Seljuk geometric style that emphasized the physical knot matrix of the carpet. clouds. in baroque aesthetics. like the combination of many plants and vines. forming a highly varied herbaceous border in a garden. the tendrils instead curl in on themselves and the arabesque grows internally. “we should survey the whole plot as if it were a knot garden. the design is now so intricate that the eye can no longer follow the patterns. Sarre-Trenkwald’s Old Oriental Carpets. that is worthy of admiration. It is truly remarkable when we see four forming the ground pattern on which the large medallion is placed. It happens to be an early example of virtuosic digital editing. fractally. his analysis is simultaneously an aesthetic response: It is striking to see in a reconstruction on the drafting board how two of these systems interlock with each other to fill the space more densely. In and out of the interlacing vines drift peonies. [figure 6.” as Cubitt surely intended. the goal is known in advance. suggest a baroque elaboration of the algorithmic aesthetics of the earlier period. birds. are like the shimmering illusions that digital media such as CGI special-effects films produce when they disavow their pixel basis. who based their design on illuminated manuscripts. carpets were being designed by painters. Again.73 Siegfried Troll drew several diagrams of spiral-tendril carpets. However. 830: Birth of the Algorithm Chapter 6 of Enfoldment and Infinity: An Islamic Genealogy of New Media Art In the fifteenth century. The stratigraphic method culminates in up to four overlapping patterns in late-sixteenth-century Persian carpets. geometric carpets in Persia gave way to a new set of designs. Scorsese’s Casino (1995) marks the beginning of the algorithmic aesthetic in casino films. floral Persian and Mughal carpets were popular imports to Italy in the sixteenth century. as though the pattern on the carpet. and Mongol carpets frankly displayed their underlying matrix. hunters. we might compare them to new media works that emphasize their digital materiality. because at this time. It is how the work arrives at it. especially the spiral-tendril or vine-scroll carpets produced during Safavid rule (1501–1732).74 valiantly reproduce the overlaid effect of spiraling tendrils of various thicknesses by reducing them to a linear black-and-white design. and garden scenes would populate the Persian carpets. perfectly describes the beauty of Persian carpets.8] Soon enough bands of romping animals. In a direct historical baroque connection. The new Persian carpets. might grow into another dimension. Ettinghausen diagrammatically separates the four levels of pattern. Troll’s drawings.”76 “Knot garden. One can only sympathize with Troll’s effort to come to terms with these visually overwhelming carpets by emphasizing their algorithmicity at the expense of their haptic qualities.78 He observes that while the pattern could extend in all directions beyond the carpet’s borders. as in those of al-Jurjânî.

In sum. Ace Rothstein. however. 6. manual dexterity. beautifully timed edits also demand that we shift our attention. But Casino is also a great narrative film precisely because it witnesses the demise of the character-driven gangster film.13] The ensemble cast performs deftly. which are so elegant and morally either neutral or justified that it misses the point to call them crimes.” but complains that it has “lost two of the caper movie’s essential ingredients: an asymmetrical balance of power and ingenious simplicity. For example. His pride in his work drives the film: managing his casino. typical of the neobaroque cinema.12. to be eclipsed by a corporate economy of information and financial management. white. and now the detail. “Nuff Said” brand special dominos. for it is the interweaving of motifs and their figure-ground reversal that delight the eye and challenge the mind. Casino is. An algorithmic script establishes the thousand details all of which must fall into place. Virgil and Turk Malloy. complex carpet: we follow one strand. Meanwhile. Fast-talking and fascinating. as reviewer Richard Alleva notes.Baghdad. Basher Tarr. the film cuts to the computer geek colleagues. flashbacks. haptically. only how they will succeed. the screen subdivides. Ocean’s Thirteen is an algorithmic film about the superiority of human ingenuity over cold digital technology. the other thread in the pattern comes into play: as the FBI photos of the accomplices download on Bank’s computer. [figures 6. Here too the Safavid carpet analogy is exact. all the better to let the audience marvel at the interweaving of simultaneous action. Ocean’s Thirteen does not indulge in the digitally aided mobile camera as much as do earlier neobaroque films like Strange Days and 50 Snake Eyes. The narrative is never propelled by the question of whether the team will succeed. and the many daring and dexterous acts involved in stealing necklaces and making sure the hotel reviewer has a disastrous stay. Editing allows what was ground to become figure. then another. hands-on ingenuity. The main character of this gangster film. and technicians gather around their leader. daredevils. Of course many reviewers do not agree that algorithmic aesthetics add up to a good movie.”80 This criticism recalls 51 . The extremely mobile camera. 830: Birth of the Algorithm Chapter 6 of Enfoldment and Infinity: An Islamic Genealogy of New Media Art lel editing. He must be distracted and the files neutralized at the same time—this is the premise for the pattern. Don Cheadle’s character. The heist genre is challenged in the computer age. and the specific qualities of materials. lending themselves to the whole like colorful strands of silk and wool woven into a carpet. there is a scene in Ocean’s Thirteen in which it seems the jig is up because Banks is about to be alerted to the thirteen criminals’ identities by an FBI file downloading on his computer. sweeps across the surface of the action. and the world of individual narrative causality that produced it. Willy Bank—Al Pacino in a cracking fake tan—who himself ruined the group’s beloved colleague Reuben Tishkoff and caused him to have a heart attack. most of the effects of this digital-era heist film are entirely analog. he is like a computer executing an algorithm. since so many of its stock tricks now have digital approximations. In the next scene. the American flag decals on his teeth gleaming.” In Ocean’s Thirteen (2007) the group intends to ruin the fortunes of a thoroughly despicable and punningly named casino mogul. Achieving this begins by having two pretty girls (on the request of Ocean’s colleague Saul Bloom) walk sexily past the stunt motorcyclist who is going to perform at the casino’s grand opening that night and suggestively into his trailer. and blue costume is passed out the window. But in Ocean’s Thirteen computers are smart only insofar as smart humans operate them. Our heroes’ temporary setbacks are like the weaver’s practice of incorporating mistakes into the carpet “because only God is perfect. Though this must be done in seconds. including special dice altered in their manufacture in Mexico. presses what was figure into the background. depending on human ingenuity. and emphasizes another relationship among the interleaving patterns. a handsome and talented group of thieves. [figures 6. It is a dazzling intertwining of exuberantly ornamental narrative strands. and in moments his red.10. In the scenes on the vast casino floor simmering with activity. He follows. Basher compels Bank’s attention with a stream of distracting yarns. Bank’s artificial intelligence surveillance system is no match for the team’s collective. enters Bank’s office dressed as the daredevil. Danny Ocean. Virgil and Turk play with giving their colleagues weird features and ridiculous names. Andrew O’Hehir in Sight and Sound notes that seven subplots of Ocean’s Eleven (not Thirteen) are meshed with “enviable dexterity and flashily brilliant edits. is an accountant. 6. with grace and modesty. and Basher’s image is altered last. The film celebrates analog processes and lovingly rendered material objects. as well as shaving microseconds off shots. altering the photographs and searching new names. Casino’s most lovingly detailed plot is about how money travels: from the gamblers to the counters to the Kansas City gangsters. the mobile camera behaves exactly like one’s eyes do when surveying a large. “the most intricate yet lucid of diagrams”79: it is a film about information in a world of information. and other kinds of nonlinear temporality. contemplating now the whole. they must carry out the act in time to save Reuben’s life. optically. emotional. Strikingly. to carry out wondrously complex heists.11] In the Ocean’s films. Numerous separate subplots weave together with such deft timing that at points.

In their baroque fascination. in that they suggest that our disparate. but he seems to have doubted that the imperceptible source could be divined. the “universe” is flattened. .”83 The seductive. while attempting to locate its unfathomable void in the divine and maddening complexity that is this world. The exceptions. But other critics welcome the exchange of narrative for baroque style. the distance between them is marked by folds. as symbols do in romantic thought. and what Bernard Berenson called “tactile values. or Islamic mysticism. crystallized in human thought and the work of human hands. 830: Birth of the Algorithm Chapter 6 of Enfoldment and Infinity: An Islamic Genealogy of New Media Art Kurt Erdmann criticizing the overly virtuosic weaving of Persian carpets.87 Benjamin seemed confident that the perceptible world unfolds from the imperceptible. but ultimately they compel a mystical response. through the concept of lame infinity. Whether elegant or baffling. ultimately baffling patterns of Safavid carpets show that at a certain point.”88 As so often occurs in his thought. mystery. to claim the transcendental beauty of baroque mysticism. is both not a thing and not not a thing84—romantically put it this way: The superabundance of the sacred is such that it contains its own void. Often in this book I suggest. that in digital media. the caper genre more broadly. the Safavid dynasty.”82 The new casino movies. as an elaborate sign system covering a fundamental emptiness. Benjamin’s conception of allegory.81 When the movie. like Ocean’s Thirteen. Arabesque and other kinds of pattern cajole our gaze to seek and search for what is beyond them. as does Manohla Dargis. As we saw above. It holds the balance of line and color to a point where they begin to waver and vibrate in an interlaced tracery. forcing your attention away from the story’s logical bricks and mortar toward its fields of dancing colors and a style that is its content. and the newly pervasive multiplot narratives show that the contemporary cinema is becoming ever more like Persian carpets in that its pleasures are not narrative but algorithmic and sensuous. This tracery holds the superabundance in check yet marks a secret desire to lose itself. We may benefit from this hesitancy. In the baroque and the neobaroque. Muslim art moves onwards in a secret. fragmentary experience expresses a unity that is beyond our grasp. algorithmic aesthetics invite us to admire the universe. many of Benjamin’s writings have a Neoplatonist flavor. conceived as social and material. Benjamin hesitates between a transcendental and an immanent understanding of the world. including the later ‘Abbasid caliphate. perhaps a certain inner coherence is sacrificed. an intuition that arises from a sense of the world’s impermanence. was often a useful ideological accompaniment to conservative state religion in the Muslim world. via algorithmic repetition. veiled anguish which harbours in itself a mystical experience. then at least to the information-based economy that is their outer limit. he seeks in them some connection to a larger whole. and instead baroquely exaggerates and distorts them. Abdelkebir Khatibi and Mohammed Sijelmassi—echoing the reasoning of the Shi‘a thinker Abu Ya’qûb al-Sijistânî that God.”86 These signs open not onto the fullness of experience.Baghdad. Hence Benjamin’s careful attention to allegories such as modern ruins and children’s toys. manifest. who writes that Ocean’s Thirteen “pushes at the limits of conventional narrative filmmaking. which expresses this anguish in decorative form. . and the Ottoman empire. they point our attention. “The form such an experience of the world takes is fragmentary and enigmatic. the void itself conceals the blinding and inconceivable fullness that is God. the theological and political implications of an unfathomable void meet and intertwine. aligns closely with Islamic mystical conceptions of the universe as a void—though in the case of mysticism. the rational approach to the divine is rebuffed. 53 . at the risk of perishing in the attempt. like the carpet. to a field of articulated sameness. mysticism reveals that the notion of horror vacui so commonly attributed to Islamic art is exactly the opposite: a love of the infinite. as a flame attracts a moth—a metaphor from the great Sufi philosopher Ibn al-‘Arabi to describe the soul’s attraction to God. Mysticism offers a refuge from a political world beyond the individual’s knowledge and control. is no longer true to the best properties of its medium. As Ian Almond points out. in it the world ceases to be purely physical and becomes an aggregation of signs. . not divine. or even existed. The translated. A fragmentary world of signs concealing a fundamental emptiness: this is Benjamin’s influential definition of allegory. if not to God or to the void. Hence the arabesque.85 52 This beautiful aesthetics of mystical abandon has a less beautiful counterpart in political quietism. These thoughts bring us back to an algorithmic aesthetics by which the infinite unfolds from an unknowable One. A domesticated strain of Sufism. or accessible meaning is like loose clothing on an inaccessible source: “the language of the translation envelops its content like a royal robe with ample folds. In Benjamin’s efforts to describe the distance between translation and original. but onto the lack of fullness in the world. Algorithmic patterns may initially appeal to reason. being beyond comprehension. are those works that augment the algorithmic space with humanity.

Len Berggren. 121. J.html. 2006.. quoted in Abu Deeb. Al-Jurjani’s Theory of Poetic Imagery. 119:4 (1999): 637–645. NJ: Prentice Hall. 5.” 490.manovich. Necipoglu. 53 For example. such as a metaphor. 1989 (Princeton. Steinhardt. 100. Asrâr al-balaghah (The Secrets of Eloquence). “Baroque and Neo-Baroque in the Age of Spectacle. Gloria Custance (Cambridge. 15 Potential intellect and active intellect are Aristotelian terms for the human reception and agency of the intellect that emanates from God. Imagination (Rotterdam: Piet Zwart Institute. 32 Cammann in ibid. 19 Lisa Golombek and Donald Wilber. Discrete Mathematics with Proofs.html. historian of science George Saliba criticized Necipoglu for assuming too much mathematical knowledge on the part of the artist.html. 1993).ucl. The Topkapi Scroll. 21 Charles Sanders Peirce. and “The Relevance of the Baroque. An excellent detailed guide to Islamic mathematics is J. IN: University of Notre Dame Press. 2001).551). Inez Brooks-Myers. Al-Jurjani’s Theory of Poetic Imagery.. Patrick Camiller (Thousand Oaks. “Walter Benjamin’s Theory of Allegory. 1979). 3 (1985): 61–74.parastou-forouhar.” Point of Contact 3 (1993): 9-21. and ‘Conversazioni’ with Artisans. and Roshdi Rashed.HTML. W. Bulatov. 211. 33. “The Muqarnas Dome: Its Origin and Meaning. 265–267. 58. quoted in Necipoglu. 104. Hill. and Peter Wollen. in reaction against the Shi‘a caliphate in Egypt and other threats. July 21. 1992). 7 Reviewing The Topkapi Scroll.” Journal of the American Oriental Society.” Muqarnas. 1999). 1967). Peirce’s Approach to the Self: A Semiotic Perspective on Human Subjectivity (Albany. 2 Donald R. chap. as Martin Kemp notes in “Science in Culture: A Trick of the Tiles. brings Le Pli in contact with to the Stoic logic of sense that Deleuze analyzed in Logique du sens. accessed September 14. Janet Zweig. “Ars Combinatoria: Mystical Systems. 48 Al-Jurjânî. Imitation and Society: The Persistence of Mimesis in the Aesthetics of Burke. Morrow (Princeton. 281. 41 Markus Hattstein and Peter Delius. 80 (1991): 174–175. Space. 81. Siegfried Zielinski. Le Pli: Leibniz et le Baroque (Paris: Minuit. and Carol Bier (Middletown. 49 Ibid. or the Architecture of the Prince. Accessed October 22. 28 (Spring 1995). Issam El-Said. 277. 138. S. NY: SUNY Press. 192. Collected Writings (4. Baroque Reason: The Aesthetics of Modernity. 1 (March 1995): 55. A Commentary on the First Book of Euclid’s Elements. Transformation: Textile Society of America 9th Annual Symposium 2004. “Omar Khayyam. Hindu. Lu and Paul J. 214–215. The Timurid Architecture of Iran and Turan (Princeton. Christine Buci-Glucksmann. Le Pli. 18. quoted in Vincent M. 34 Cramer. 25 Leaman. trans. “Pattern Power: Textiles and the Trans- mission of Mathematical Knowledge. 1995). Figurative Art in Medieval Islam and the Riddle of Bihzâd of Herat (Paris: Flammarion. Brian Wichmann.” Millennium Film Journal. 8 See Necipoglu. Franz Rosenthal (Princeton. DE: Textile Society of America. The Topkapi Scroll. Episodes in the Mathematics of Medieval Islam (New York: Springer-Verlag. By “image” al-Jurjânî implies not a figurative image but a poetic image. Brill. 8:3 (1969). 47 Ibid. 27 Doris Behrens-Abouseif. The Topkapi Scroll. 269. 2003). Susan Tselos. 487. Carol Bier. Mathematicians. 225–228. points out that different combinations of numbers were popular in Chinese. The Sunni revival consolidated Sunni Islam as the official doctrine of the ‘Abbasid caliphate. 267–268. for example. 2004). John Osborne (London: Verso. Baroque: Versailles. ed. 31 Schuyler Cammann. 20 Necipoglu. Islamic Aesthetics: An Introduction (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Albrecht Dürer. 2005. Gülrü Necipoglu. Christine Buci-Glucksmann. Glenn R. 12 Alpay Özdural. 64 Lev Manovich. 11 Alpay Özdural. “The Muqarnas Dome. Beauty in Arabic Culture. Coleridge’s “mechanic form” has been compared to both. 17 Ibid. “On Interlocking Similar or Corresponding Figures and Ornamental Patterns of Cubic Equations. 26 Necipoglu. 51 Quoted in Oleg Grabar. P. “Decagonal and Quasicrystalline Tilings in Medieval Islamic Architecture. NJ: Markus-Wiener Publishers. trans. trans. 22 Necipoglu.Baghdad. ed. first edition (Englewood Cliffs. 1992). The Topkapi Scroll. The Topkapi Scroll. 1994). 1986). vol. CA: Sage. 2008. 58 Buci-Glucksmann. 1988). 27. 56 Deleuze. 1987). 1994).. 176. 830: Birth of the Algorithm Notes Chapter 6 of Enfoldment and Infinity: An Islamic Genealogy of New Media Art Notes 1 Necipoglu uses this term in The Topkapi Scroll: Geometry and Ornament in Islamic Architecture (Santa Monica. and the Computer.” in Beauty and Islam (London: I. trans. “In the Ocean of Streams of Story.. Hill. Words Made Flesh: Code. intrigued by Islamic tile patterns. 39 Parastou Forouhar. and Islamic magic squares. “Classical. Butzer and D.” 72. trans. 33 Florian Cramer.” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians. Omar Calabrese. (New Haven.. 2004). 1988). 61 Louis Marin and Anna Lehman. 2001). 216. 28 Golombek and Wilber. trans. Lohrmann (Basel: Birkhäuser Verlag.” Science. These include Sergei Chmelnizkij. NJ: Princeton University Press. The Physical Theory of Kalâm: Atoms.” Muqarnas. “Fibonacci et les mathématiques arabes. 282. as Greg Farrell kindly told me. had attempted something similar in a sketch from 1524. 2 (1994): 145160. The Mediation of Ornament: The A. 1.” in Appropriation. 1986). 138. The Timurid Architecture of Iran and Turan. “Fibonacci et le prolongement latin des mathématiques arabes. The Topkapi Scroll.. 59 Lev Manovich. and John Rigby. 14 Alnoor Dhanani. 4. The Topkapi Scroll. referencing S. 229. quoted in Tom Huhn. CT: Yale University Press. 23 Proclus. 1992). Neo-Baroque: A Sign of the Times. 22 35 Ibid. Colapietro. see Bainard Cowan. 1989). rev. 2004). “Science and Technology in Ninth-Century Baghdad. The Topkapi Scroll. ed. and Void in Basrian Mu‘tazili Cosmology (Leiden: E. 40 Necipoglu.ac. Words Made Flesh. 173. reflecting cultural preferences. NJ: Princeton University Press. 103. 13 Carol Bier. 46 Ibid. La folie du voir: Une esthéthique du virtuel (Paris: Galilée. 2003). 45 Ibid. The Topkapi Scroll. Yasser Tabbaa. “On Totalitarian Interactivity” (1996). and Kant (University Park. “Neobaroque Film. 38 Such as Eric Gosset. PA: Pennsylvania State University 54 55 . 30 As Leaman points out in Islamic Aesthetics. trans. The Life of Forms in Art [1934]. Mannerism in Arabic Poetry (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. MA: MIT.org/journalPages/MFJ28/GWOCEAN. and Yasser Tabbaa does so in The Transformation of Islamic Art during the Sunni Revival (Seattle: University of Washington Press. in “Artisans and Mathematics in Medieval Islam. 8. 97-102. Beauty in Arabic Culture (Princeton. Kevin Crichlow. 260–267. Islam: Art and Architecture (Hagen: Könemann. African Fractals: Modern Computing and Indigenous Design (Piscataway.uk/slade/digita/ baroque. 2008.” Art Journal 56:3 (Autumn 1997): 20-29. 22. ed. 25–26. “On Interlocking Similar or Corresponding Figures and Ornamental Patterns of Cubic Equations”. 191. 6. 55 Henri Focillon. 183. trans. Terry Cochran (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Shape.” in The Cinema Effect (Cambridge. B. Part I. http://mfj-online. 13 (1996): 191–211. quoted in Abu Deeb. MA: MIT Press. 24 Ibn Khaldun. Charles Lambert (Princeton. Tarek El-Bouri and Keith Critchlow (Reading: Garnet. 81.. 65 William Hogarth. Procedural Art. 2006). 213. NJ: Princeton University Press. “Number. 197. 2. 2002). 144–153 (CD-ROM). 315 (2007): 1106-1110. 278. 43 Behrens-Abouseif. 29 Valérie Gonzalez. “The Geometries of the Alhambra. 43–44. Culture. CA: Getty Center for the History of Art and Architecture in the Humanities. 42 Michael Barry. 232–233. 57 Deleuze. and the Nature of Space: An Inquiry into the Meaning of Geometry in Islamic Art. Alpay Özdural. 1993). “Islamic and Indian Magic Squares. Necipoglu. 38. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts. 9 Ron Eglash. MA: MIT Press. 1989). 36 See. Sperl. M.” in How to Talk about Religion. 86–92. 60 See José Antonio Maravall. Hugh Tomlinson and Robert Galeta (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 332. The Origin of German Tragic Drama. 62 Ibid. 25 years earlier. 23:2 (December 2003): 55–73. 1970). The Formation of Islamic Art. Özdural. 188. 1989).” Bollettino di Storia delle Scienze Matematiche. 299–302. 37 Peter J. James Boyd White (South Bend. 63 Sean Cubitt.” Nature.de/english/texts/zur_arbeit_ von_parastou_for.” in Science in Western and Eastern Civilization in Carolingian Times. “Science and Technology in Ninth-Century Baghdad.” History of Religions. Oleg Grabar. 10 Carol Bier. 82. Deep Time of the Media: Toward an Archaeology of Hearing and Seeing by Technical Means. The Muqqadimah: An Introduction to History. 18 Ibid. 197–201. accessed November 12. ed. 44 Kamal Abu Deeb. 2005). www. trans. 54 Tabbaa. L. quoted in Necipoglu. 38. The Analysis of Beauty (1753). George Kubler (New York: Zone Books. Hogarth. “Veiled-Unveiled” (2004). 16 Oliver Leaman.” Yale French Studies. and Abu Deeb compares Coleridge’s and Al-Jurjânî’s poetics in Al-Jurjani’s Theory of Poetic Imagery . Al-Jurjani’s Theory of Poetic Imagery (Warminster: Aris and Phillips. 140. 2004).” Micrologus. 2006). 2004). NJ: Princeton University Press.. and Cinema 2: The TimeImage. 52 Walter Benjamin. www.” www. 3 See Roshdi Rashed. 50 Grahame Weinbren. Acculturation.net/TEXT/totalitarian. Culture of the Baroque: Analysis of a Historical Structure. Islamic Aesthetics. Samer Akkach. 22 (Winter 1981): 117. NJ: Princeton University Press. Islamic Art and Architecture: The System of Geometric Design. Tauris. in making this association. 217–244.” New German Critique. 1999). The Language of New Media (Cambridge. 2001). NJ: Rutgers University Press.

Titus Burckhardt argues similarly in “The Void in Islamic Art.” New German Critique. Robert Pinner (London: Faber and Faber. including Ibn Al ‘Arabi and the thirteenth-century Dominican Meister Eckhart. 1987). 32. 82 Manohla Dargis. Hannah Arendt (New York: Schocken. in Ardalan and Bakhtiar. south iwan (12th C) of Friday Mosque.Baghdad. 68 Buci-Glucksmann. 73 David Sylvester. 1896). but the translation of the hidden.6 Detail of muqarnas vault. Nader Ardalan and Laleh Bakhtiar. Donald King and David Sylvester (London: Arts Council of Great Britain. Berlin. The Florentine Painters of the Renaissance (New York: G. hold that the arabesque represents the cosmic process of creation. “The Significance of the Void in Islamic Art. Gombrich. Mathematicians. 76 Cubitt. Early Philosophical Shi‘ism: The Isma‘îlî Neoplatonism of Abu Ya’qûb al-Sijistânî (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 88 Walter Benjamin. the Ikhwan al-Safa or Brethren of Purity (1287).P. 231–235. 74. H. 83 See Bernard Berenson. 21. 66 Dave Hickey. (New York: Thames and Hudson. “Different Fragments. 32. Sight and Sound. 75 Leonard M. “Walter Benjamin’s Theory of Allegory.” in The Eastern Carpet in the Western World from the 15th to the 17th Century. “The Master Misses. 6. 69 E.’” Heythrop Journal. Putman’s Sons. “The Taming of the Horror Vacui in Islamic Art.” Air Guitar: Essays on Art and Democracy (Los Angeles: Art Issues Press. 58. Oriental Carpets in the Museum of Islamic Art. 80 Andrew O’Hehir.4 Frame from Allahu Akbar (2003) by Usama Alshaibi.” 1995. February 20. 1994). Charles Grant Ellis (New York: Universe Books. 2001). “For the medieval exegete. Helfgott. 12:3 (March 2002): 53. Oriental Carpets: An Essay on Their History. Walker. 85 Abdelkebir Khatibi and Mohammed Sijelmassi. b) The ornamental pattern of Abu ‘I-Wafâ’s proof. “The Eastern Carpet in the Western World from the 15th to the 20th Century.” in Illuminations: Essays and Reflections. trans. 78 Erdmann. June 8. “The Task of the Translator. 22 (Winter 1981): 110.1 Abu ‘I-Wafâ’s figure proving the Pythagorean theorem. Ties That Bind: A Social History of the Iranian Carpet (Washington. 1997). 191. Istanbul. 18–24. 80 70 Seyyed Hossein Nasr. ‘inner meaning’) into the comprehensible language of men (zahir. From Alpay Özdural. 84 Paul E. 1979. 14.5 Detail of tilework.” in Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society. 81 Erdmann. Photo by Laura Marks.3 Screen grab from Marek Walczak and Martin Wattenberg. 1968). Ian Almond points out. 1973). 1983). La folie du voir. Different Vases: A Neoplatonic Commentary on Benjamin’s ‘The Task of the Translator. Fez. 6. 2007. 71 Kurt Erdmann. 1988). 186. and ‘Conversazione’ with Architects. Apartment (2001-). 43:2 (April 2002): 185–198.” Almond points out. ed. review of Ocean’s Eleven. Photo by Laura Marks. the ratio of 1:2. 2004). divine language (batin. like Nasr. ‘outer meaning’). ed. 67 Eva Baer. who in turn gave it to Leopold I of Austria. trans. 86 Bainard Cowan. 1997). The Sense of Order: A Study in the Psychology of Decorative Art (Ithaca.” in Islamic Art and Spirituality (Albany: State University of New York Press. The Splendor of Islamic Calligraphy. 223. Süleymaniye Library. Islamic Ornament (Edinburgh University Press. 1979). 84. 1996): 18–19. 77 Friedrich Spuhler. 6. Isfahan. 79 Richard Alleva.” in Mirror of the Intellect: Essays on Traditional Science and Sacred Art (Albany: SUNY. ed. “interpretation was translation—not simply Arabic into Persian or Greek or Latin. Bou ‘Inania Madrasa (13501355). 6. “A Home in the Neon. The Cinema Effect. 74 The shah presented this carpet to Peter the Great. 1960). 56 57 . 170. 6.” Commonweal (January 12. 1998). rev. “Omar Khayyam. Bet on It.2 Author portrait. DC: Smithsonian. 75. 6. 1993).” Almond. 87 Ian Almond. 830: Birth of the Algorithm Notes Chapter 6 of Enfoldment and Infinity: An Islamic Genealogy of New Media Art Figures Press. “They Always Come Out Ahead. 207. c) The ornamental pattern of Abu ‘I-Wafâ’s proof. NY: Cornell University Press. 78. 35. The Sense of Unity: The Sufi Tradition in Persian Architecture (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 72 Richard Ettinghausen.” New York Times. Oriental Carpets. 18. general. This metaphor has a long Neoplatonist genealogy.

10. 6.9 Siegfried Troll. 6. 6. vol.13 Interwoven narrative strands in Ocean’s Thirteen (Steven Soderbergh. From Sarre-Trenkwald. Krakau.8 Persian carpet. 1.11 Algorithmic fascination in Casino (Martin Scorsese. 830: Birth of the Algorithm Figures 6. entrance of Sheikh Lutfallah Mosque (1619). From the catalogue Meisterwerke Muhammedanischer Kunst. 6. Photo by Laura Marks. Old Oriental Carpets. 1926 and 1929. lent by Czartoryski Musuem. 6. Isfahan. 2007) 58 . sixteenth century. Munich.Baghdad.7 Detail of muqarnas vault. diagram of spiral-tendril carpet made in Isfahan during the reign of Shah Safi.12. 1910. 1995) 6.