This started with the ideas for another project called Tarps and then just sort of morphed into a project that becomes more math than I ever thought I’d be interested again. I like to think of Squared as based in the photographic but tied to painting, colour theory, and sculpture.
Squared Squares or Squaring the Square is a mathematical problem. Basically the premis is to create a square made of different squares, none of which can be the same size. I discovered this—not because I knew about the problem but—because I simply wanted to achieve the Squared Squares thing and I didn’t know how to do it. I stumbled upon the Global Constraint Catalogue simply by searching for squared squares. I’m very happy I did. I haven’t read through the details on that site but I did come across a diagram that visualized what I was thinking about.
The above image from the Global Constraints Catalogue depicts the simplest proof for Squaring the Square where 21 different size squares are used to create a perfect larger square. Below I’ve converted the diagram above into a Sketch Up digram just because I’m feeling guilty for stealing someone else’s work.
The first part of my plan is to figure out how this math proof works so I can create the simple Square of Squares without just copying it.
My Square of Squares is 3D, because I started seeing it this way as more of a sculpture. I’ve since discovered that a Cube of Cubes is actually impossible. This became clear to me when I understood the simple idea of a proof by infinite decent. It will be cool to see if I can understand why, but I digress. The above structure is the premis for Squared.
I’d like to create a larger work like the 3D rendering above and below. It will end up two dimensional more like the first illustration, made of 21 different pieces that fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. I’ve been mulling the idea of making these pieces out of stretcher frames with wood panel facings to paint on. I was going to make them out of stretched canvas but the added material of the canvas stretched around the frame would no doubt through my measurements off and make the Squared Square more difficult to achieve accurately.
Picture twenty one panels fitted together to make the larger square. Each of these stretcher panels would either be 1″, 1.5″, 2″ or 3″ thick. I would paint each of the panels either a different grey shade or a different colour. More likely it will be colour based as I’m more interested in colour photography than in black and white. I’d then take photos of each of the panels, so twenty one pictures. Maybe 22 if I take an image of the assembled Square of Squares.
I see it clearly. In a gallery space—perhaps even Bau-Xi Photo if they agree—I would assemble the larger Squared Square on a wall. It would be 112″ x 112″ or roughly 9 feet x 9 feet square. It should be pretty cool. Meanwhile I’ve taken the different twenty two photographs and printed them on the same size square paper, maybe they get printed 24″ x 24″. The goal is to simply frame and hang these side by side around the gallery or on a single wall of the space. Each would like identical except for the actual tone or colour of the image and each would relate back to the larger wall sculpture/panel painting.
This fascination started with the last show Wandering. In that show I shot with the square in my head and cropped down all my images from the typical in camera frame ratio of 2:3 to be square 1:1 ratios. This allowed me to see differently and now I’m really liking the square frame. That’s the impetuous for this project but I’m now thinking more about other aspects of photography or at least other aspects of photography and how it pertains to my practice.
The squares loosely represent pixels to me. I think this is because I’ve been more and more preoccupied with the debate and discussion about digital photography vs analog photography. The colour is another thing I’ve been thinking about and again relates to various conversations I’ve been involved, overheard or read about the nature of photography and the value of colour or black & white printing. There’s also a real nod to my favourite painters Joseph Albers, Ellsworth Kelly, Claude Tousignant and others. Add to that a general attraction for the work of Johannes Itten. Then there’s the aspect of painting, taking pictures of paintings and the blurred lines between the two that I love. Finally there’s a real sense fo creating something to be photographed here that I think is a natural direction to take based on the work in Wandering. Wandering was found art, Squared will be made art.