Monday, 27 August 2012

Fractals - Order and Chaos

I have been fortunate to be given the space in a local gallery for a period of three weeks during which I will exhibit a set of images which are collectively known as Fractals. If you scroll to the bottom of this page you will see an example of the kind of images that will be on show. Fractals are often referred to as 'Geometry of Nature' because they seem to remind us of complex geometry of many structures in nature such as the coastline of an island or the cracks in weathered rock formations. Images such as these were popular in the 80s and the 90s, and many books with wonderful images were published.
For the exhibition it is necessary to write a short explanation of what these images represent and it is hard to find the words to explain the process without drowning the reader in complex mathematics and iterative equation manipulation programming techniques. In an attempt to make a start in assembling this write-up, here is what I have come up with...

The geometry of nature - Fractals - Order and Chaos
The images which makeup this exhibition have been generated by a computer program which follows the behavior of some mathematical equations that represent complex dynamics using complex variables. The behavior of these equations is represented by the images where the black regions are zones of stability and order and the brightly coloured areas are zones of chaos.
While mathematicians have known for hundreds of years that these equations behave chaotically, it is only in the last thirty years with the invention of computers and high resolution plotters that we are able to enjoy the chaotic behavior in glorious and beautiful images. The complex planes show self repeating patterns which seem to extend to specific boundaries which take us to the edge of the ordered zones.
When we view the images it is as if we are in the presence of something cosmic and familiar, and this is because many of the structures in nature and in our surroundings behave in a similar way. The coastline, the structures in biology and botany, the behavior of populations and economies, the meteorology, cosmology and the study of turbulence in air and fluids all have elements of chaos which is essentially what we can see in the images in this exhibition.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Langar and the Olympics

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of this post allow me to apologize for my absence from this blog for the last couple of months. Its not as if I had little to say but various projects have kept me busy and although I am still busy with them, I have to get back into the habit of writing so that I don't forget the Queen's language, in which I am most able to express myself.
Langar is a word used by the Sikh's to describe the blessed meal that follows most religious events at the Sikh's temples. All comers are treated to a decent meal without regard to their faith or appearance without any cost of any kind. Now you may be entitled to ask what this has in common with the recent Olympics extravaganza that took place in London. Let me elaborate..
What came as a very pleasant surprise at the start of the games was that one of the relays of the Olympic torch as it made its way to the Olympic stadium in East London, was entrusted to the 101 years old Fauja Singh, a Sikh gentleman who has lately been on the news for running marathons in London, New York and other locations. As if it was not enough to compete with David Beckham for advertisement space, and to receive a letter of congratulations from the Queen on reaching the 100 years miilestone, he must have been thrilled indeed to receive this honour.. Not to be left behind at this opportunity a team of Sikh volunteers declared that to coincide with FS's torch relay run, they would provide 'Langar' along the route, that is to say free food to anyone who wants to enjoy some basic but good Indian cooking.

More about the Langar thing at the end, but let me say that I really enjoyed the Opening and Closing ceremonies of the Olympic games. The choice of using the themes of the Industrial Revolution and the National Health service were strange to say the least, however the conservative party in power would not have missed the obvious digs for the cost pressure on hospitals in England currently. Sir Paul McCartney could also have stayed at home and watched the ceremony from his couch instead of the pathetic outing milking the success of the great music.

The closing ceremony of the Olympics was much more to my liking, with much of the music from my favourites and outstanding performances from Brian May (Queen) and The Who, who should have trashed their instruments at the end of 'My Generation', in the spirit of Woodstock. Ray Davis (of the Kinks who I once saw perform in London at my college in the early seventies) should have stayed at home and George should have quit after his first song, but you cant get everything right all of the time.

Getting back to the Langar, Jasvinder, my elder sister and her husband Birinder donated the Langar the same Sunday of the closing ceremony at their local temple (or gurdwara as its called in Punjabi) in New Jersey, no doubt with the tension from the news of the recent altercation at a similar place of worship in not too distant Wisconsin fresh in the mind of the congregation. After all that has been said on the subject, it is truely exasperating to feel the pathetic helplessness in the face of the US laws relating to the use of firearms. While my thoughts are with the families of those who needlessly lost their lives, I have the warmth of the deed of my family which inspires admiration and brings much spiritual energy to all of us.

Sat sri akal.