Visualisation of Mongean card-shuffling process (deck sizes 26-29, L-R)
about our artist
Richard Scott is an artist and musician living and working in Birmingham.
Scotts work looks for ways to visually elucidate relationships between different organisational and perceptual paradigms.
Form and/or Content, a solo show by our artist in residence ran from September 13th until October 6th.
Scroll Down for an interview with our artist.
ARTIST IN INTERVIEW
can you give me an overall introduction to your practice?
I’ll try! Haha. Basically, I’m most at home making abstract drawings, so most of what you’ll see at T Street Gallery will fall into this category. In the most general sense, what I’m really trying to achieve in all my work is a kind of balance between certain forms of organisation – patterns whose structure contains visible elements of both order and disorder. This conceptual pairing is particularly stimulating, I think, because these two words can mean so many different things. Exploring them in different ways yields a wide range of outcomes in terms of how it’s possible to go about defining these terms. So I could say that my practice is primarily focused on learning more about order and disorder. There are other related concepts/organising principles which are encompassed into the work too (sometimes but not always consciously!) – the relationship between continuous and discrete information is a fascinating one for me, partly because of its prominence in our everyday lives (the discrete form which digital information takes in comparison to the continuous structure of analogue information impinges hugely on how modern technology works), but mainly because of the experiential effect the difference between them has on our perceptual faculties. This effect also brings up the question of what exactly constitutes form and content, and where the distinction between them lies. A number of the works which will be on display at T Street explore exactly this, so I liked the idea of using it as a name!
Your work is crafted by patterns and orders – or disorders in some examples, sometimes using notions of physics to inspire. Could you tell us in more detail how you create your artworks?
Yes, scientific and mathematical ideas have played a huge role in my motivation for making art – I love the idea of trying to work out how to visualise conceptual structures which I find intuitively beautiful but which have no clear visual form. There are a few tools and methods I’ve used to try and access these – some of my drawings use what I would call cognitive feedback systems, which allow me quite a precise and limited amount of control over the growth of a picture, and leave other crucial elements to be dictated by the feedback, which can operate in quite chaotic ways. Another tool which is integral to my work is interference – many of my drawings are made of two layers of information, and it’s the way they interact which forms the resulting pattern. This is quite a good way of balancing senses of order and disorder as very regular patterns overlaid on themselves or each other can create much more complex structures.
In many cases, I start making a drawing without an exact idea of how it will look at the end – I know the parameters involved within a particular setup, to a certain extent, and I let those guide the piece. In fact, one of the main reasons for making a picture is often that I have only a limited understanding of the cognitive and technical forces at play and I need to execute it to see how they really interact.
What is it about structures and patterns that originally influenced your art practice?
I came to visual art from being a musician for most of my life – primarily interested in experimental, often fairly minimalist music. I found that some of the ideas and structures I was trying to compose in pieces of music worked much better when you could see the whole form at the same time, on a wall for example! So I started making abstract drawings and began doing more and more, getting interested in bigger and more complex patterns. Since starting my Fine Art MA part time in 2017, I’ve branched out and have been exploring the same ideas in different ways, wanting to create more immersive installations and experimenting with different materials and methods, from photograms and kinetic sculpture to video and sound work.
Could you tell us about this work, Visualisation of Mongean card-shuffling process (deck sizes 26-29, L-R)?
This is a good example of a piece which contains a high degree of order, but due to the nature of that type of order, it’s largely hidden until your eye starts to follow certain colours and groupings. It can be described as a diagram of the progressive re-ordering of a pack of cards using a common shuffling (“Mongean”) technique. There are four sections, each visualising a different deck size – different sizes take different amounts of time to re-order themselves back into their original formation, so they’re different shapes as a result. There are some interesting mathematical properties of this shuffling method which I hoped to highlight by using a discrete colour spectrum to represent the card values – for example, by executing this shuffle repeatedly, it will never take more iterations than the number of cards in your deck to arrive back at your original order (for example, a standard deck of 52 cards shuffled thus will find its way back to its original order in only 12 shuffles, and decks of other sizes vary significantly). Secondly, there are certain numbers within certain deck sizes whose position in the pack remains the same throughout the shuffling process, and others which alternate within small feedback groups between e.g. 2 or 5 numbers (for example, the last card in any deck size always stays at the bottom throughout, and cards #6 and #17 swap between only these two places in a deck size of 28).
I do think that a nice thing about this piece (and most of my other work too!) is that I don’t feel it’s necessary to know any of this stuff in order to find it visually appealing/stimulating, and I think some of the instances of order tie it together to prevent the eye from getting too “lost”…