border design
Artist's Statement

In trying to anticipate questions some may have about my

recent work, I′ve assembled a few points that may help

to explain.

Mathematics in my work

I′m comfortable with a mathematical approach to the world

around me. I′m excited by each new snippet of mathematical

theory that I come across, and I′ve developed a degree of

confidence in my familiarity with the subject to want to

highlight it in my work. I′m not a mathematician, so I′ve

never come near a mastery of any mathematical topic. There′s

always a point when I′m researching a theory that I reach a

limit to my ability to understand the finer technical points,

but as an artist, I have the luxury of being able to say it′s

okay if I don′t understand it all. Usually the general concepts

involved are sufficient to incorporate it into my work. I′m

sure a mathematician would consider this intellectual laziness,

but as I said, I′m not a mathematician.

Color in my work

Artists use color for various effects; some to symbolize, some to

set mood, some to express emotion, or create harmony. As someone

who has always been fascinated by the visual conventions of maps

and globes, I′m more interested in color′s ability to distinguish

types of paths, label regions, and highlight relationships. If

my use of color incidentally produces a certain mood or emotion,

that′s inevitable, but it′s not my primary focus.

Ideas for my work

I use a typical mix of tools to develop my images: I′ll start

with my sketchbook, but will often use a graph pad. Once I have

something that I want to repeat into a pattern, I′ll use a

graphics program like Adobe Illustrator or Microsoft Expression

Design to play with ways of depicting the structure. Then I go

back to traditional drawing and painting media to make the final


Of the various tricks I use to come up with ideas for patterns,

the thought experiment is particularly powerful. The “Boots on

the Ground” scenario may help to illustrate.

“Boots on the Ground” -A Thought Experiment

You′re a soldier standing at the edge of a parade ground with a

dozen or so other soldiers, ready for morning marching drill.

Everyone assembles in a straight line, and you′re somewhere in

the middle. The drill sergeant commands everyone to forward march,

“left, right, left, right...” You all march across the field in

perfect timing to his commands, and since each of you is practiced

in drill, you all start with your left foot, you keep together so

that at any point in time you are all in a single line and when

one soldier steps down on a particular foot, you′re all stepping

down with the same foot.

Let′s say it rained the night before, the field is a bit muddy, and

every soldier is leaving footprints in the rectangular field. What

pattern would the footprints make?

Let′s change the story and say that that morning every soldier is

sharp and wide awake, but you didn′t get much sleep, so you′re

really groggy. The drill sergeant gives his command, but when he

says “left”, you mess up and step down with your right. The drill

sergeant isn′t paying attention to you, and although you realize

immediately that you′ve gotten off on the wrong foot, so to speak,

you decide to continue out-of-step to the end of the field. How

does your deviation from the norm change the pattern of footsteps?

If the drill sergeant had each of you count off and commanded

even-numbered soldiers to start with their left and odd-numbered

soldiers to start with their right, what would the pattern of

footprints look like?

Let′s say that the drill sergeant told you all that he doesn′t care

which foot you start with, it′s totally up to you, but you still

have to follow his beat and maintain a straight line. He commands

“step, step, step, step...” You all match his rhythm exactly and

end up at the end of the field in a straight line at the same time.

Assuming there′s a 50/50 chance any one soldier started with their

left foot, would the pattern be regular, partially regular, or chaotic?

As a final example, let′s say the drill sergeant simply commanded

“Forward march! Go!” and didn′t state which foot to start with, and

didn′t provide any beat to follow. Each soldier steps with a different

stride and speed, and each one reaches the other end at a different

time, using a different number of steps. How would this pattern

compare to the last one?

The Manifold Series

I′ve been involved with the Manifold series for nearly a decade.

The early works are defined by a variety of thematic structures,

but in the last four years I′ve exclusively used one motif to

generate the skeleton of all my patterns: two sets of randomly

arranged zigzag paths, one running horizontally, one running

vertically. To use the “Boots on the Ground” imagery, I′m

orchestrating two sets of soldiers, one marching North to South,

the other East to West.

© 2012 Janet and Miguel de Agüero