It starts with a unit.
The rule is that the unit rotates, clockwise or anticlockwise, in alternating rows. Depending on where you start successive rows, you get different patterns.
The most interesting sequences are the ones in which the relationship between the elements won’t neatly divide itself into foreground and background. I keep changing my only two variables—the starting position and the direction of the rotation—looking for the place where orderly repetition gives way to something unpredictable.
I initially employed carefully measured pencil lines, filling them in with watercolor and ink, but that method was way too slow for the number of experiments I needed to conduct. I’ve since moved on to screenprinting.
I cut a tyvek stencil for each color of every possible row for each pattern. This combines some of my favorite activities: cutting with an x-acto knife, measuring, drawing grids, and figuring out all the permutations of a limited number of variables. I’m taking the simplest elements—circles, squares, lines, primary colors—and teaching them some basic steps and seeing what they DO. When does it become a narrative?
An unexpected advantage to moving the project to screenprinting is the ability to layer slight variants of different colors on top of one another. The result can be beautiful or hideous, but I’m trying to forget about that part for now. This is research.