Mandala: As within so without, 2014-2015

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Mandala – As within, so without. Mark Cullen
Science Hub
Dates – 02/11/2014 – 28/03/2015

We perceive a large black monolithic shape, illuminated by a circle of light in the atrium space of the science hub building. The central mandala is a pattern made by subtracting circular holes in material and causing light to appear to arrest on the plane of their absense. The intervention riffs off the atriums black and white schema, its vertiginous volume of empty space is bisected by this slim black planar form. Manadalas, in many cultures, are utilised as physical representations of internal spaces of consciousness. As maps to define regions of the mind, they pertain to the universal whole or the absolute reality. By directing visualisation to the interior spaces of the observer’s mind, the mandala contributes a non-Western perspective on the two-dimensional mapping of physical space with its portrayal of metaphysical, multidimensional experiential space1. In this case the mandala is describing a geometric form that is a base unit of a five-fold aperiodicity in both two and three dimensions2. It is taken from a electron diffraction pattern of an icosahedral Ho-Mg-Zn quasicrystal. A form that has been recently found to exist in nature3 following its discovery in the lab in 1981 by subsequent nobel prize winner Max Shectman. This pattern is consistent with arrangements of Penrose tiles and the sacred geometry of Islamic tiling from the 13th century, which both exhibit self similarity, a feature of fractal geometry. Aperiodicity is a very special characteristic that offers the potential to carry vast quantities of information within a repetitive structure. Indeed it is the very condition on which life is based on this planet. As predicted by Erwin Schrodinger, in his lecture at Trinity College, the material carrier of life would be an aperiodic crystal4 and so it was discovered to be true, as our DNA that is shared by every living organism on this world exhibits these properties. Within the aperiodic tiling I have noticed the motif pattern of the Romanian artist Constantin Branchusi’s Infinite Column. As a modular pattern of repeating lozenges, that preoccupied the artist throughout his career, it resonates with the axis mundi of many world cultures, which is believed to be representative of the tree of life, or in many cultures the spiral ladder that connects the heavens with the earth. Recent research by Jeremy Narby draws a strong correlation between the nature of DNA as a light emitting molecule and the visions of twisted snakes that inform the pharmacological knowledge and world view of Amazonian shamanic culture5. In drawing these few connections, overlaps, and points of confluence I am making a short case for considering the richness and depth of potential that can be explored through parallel modes of perception and interpretation, as the complexity of the story that is told and retold, reformed and renewed, intertwines into a fuller picture of what existence is and what it means to be us.

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