20. Abstract simplicity & Complex crafts

Abstract simplicity & Complex crafts

In a world where digital technologies seem to define the way forward and handcrafts are seen as a heritage from the past, the divergence between digital and analog may seem irreconcilable. Yet, they bear analogies that tie them together to their roots.

Craft, mathematics, and algorithmics share the aim to create elaborate results relying on a small set of instructions, rules, or elements. Indeed, simple rules and patterns can rise to surprising, elaborated, and beautiful outcomes.

Mathematical concepts can help to translate and code our creative ideas into something that a computer will operate.

From a basic operation repeated thanks to an algorithm, a simple shape can evolve into complex drawings. A small change in one state can result in large variations in a later state.

The manufacture of fabrics relies on weaving patterns, which can be expressed with a very basic computer language: the binary numeral system, in which everything is expressed using 0’s and 1’s.

Basic origami folds, described by a limited set of axioms, can be combined in a variety of ways to make intricate designs.

And from sinusoids – one of the most basic curves in mathematics – producers can create new sounds to compose any music.  Mathematical concepts created by the human brain exist beyond their abstract status and they have been adopted and applied by creative minds, makers and craftsmen since the beginning of civilisation.