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Axis

Axis is a kinetic sculpture based on the irrational number Phi. It has been displayed at art exhibitions and displays to engage new audiences with mathematics.

Axis on Display
  • School/Institute/Department: School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science, Media and Art Technology
  • Subjects: Mathematics, Engineering, Design, Art
  • Audience: the creative art sector, general public

Axis is a kinetic sculpture based on the irrational number Phi, exhibited in venues and events that traditionally attract audiences that do not often rigorously engage with mathematics, with the aim of using art to engage new people.

The sculpture was designed and created by three PhD students from the Media and Art Technology programme (MAT) in the School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science, an interdisciplinary program of creative practitioners and engineering research.

Using a system of stepper motors, electronics, hand-built mechanics and code, Axis turns 21 plates of various sizes against one another. The plates – entirely built out of paper – come together to display the visual complexity of Phi on Axis’s outer surface, as well in its chaotic interior.

Axis premiered at Digital Shoreditch festival of creative, technical and entrepreneurial talent in May 2015 where it formed the centrepiece of the event’s art exhibition. Members of the MAT team were present during the opening and closing ceremonies to actively engage audiences one-on-one with the sculpture and its themes. It has also appeared at Kinetica, an international festival of moving art based in London.

The project was developed collaboratively from concept to execution. The three MAT PhD students worked closely together, consulting with members of the mathematics department to enable the sculpture to act as credible art while explaining mathematical concepts. This process also formed new connections between different academic fields and QMUL departments.

Art that communicates science and mathematics is not unheard of, but achieving the balance between visual effect and content is difficult to strike. This credibility is, we believe, the hardest component and the reason why meaningfully engaging art audiences is difficult; however, our hybrid practices have allowed us to effectively cross over between both disciplines.
Astrid Bin,Media and Art Technology PhD student

The team are interested in continuing to exhibit Axis to reach more people and new audiences.

Axis is a collaboration between Astrid Bin, Daniel Gabana, Liam Donovan. Media: Paper, motors, plywood, acrylic, electronics, code.

The Media and Art Technology program at QMUL is a unique and interdisciplinary program, bringing creative practitioners into engineering research in order to broaden its approach and results.

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