A set of 5 projects in 5 days at Parsons Design and Technology: Meditation on the idea of circles that form from spaces uninhabited by circles. (This webpage is the fifth project.) They are everywhere; and they are nowhere.

last circle at marienbad

We are always watching our surroundings, but what of the surrounds that are watching us? Circles are ubiquitous, making shapes like our eyes and faces. What if in reality, circles all around us are conspiring to shape our world the way they want to when we pay least attention to them? The nonexistent circles (unperceived by us) register when we are not looking, because their circular comrades in our eyes and faces changes the circular space-time when our attention is focused, causing these unperceived circles to oscillate in the conscious dimension. Only by very special methods will we ever "see" these unobserved circles.

Inspired by Alain Resnais's film Last Year at Marienbad, where shapes other than circles join them to make a mockery of the perceived happenings or non-happenings at a chateau-like resort. In the film, beginning and end are joined in a loop, and what happens in the story is anyone's guess. Only the circles know best. Implemented using OpenCV and Processing.

13 ways of looking at a circle

Like you and I, circles don't always enjoy being jammed into each other. This is why negative circles are so important. We enjoy our personal space, and so do they. For every person who no longer exists, there's a circular equivalent in spherical world. If you want to understand, feel circles, you have to see them from all sides, from the positive and the negative space, from the anthropomorphic and the inanimate stances.

Inspired by Wallace Stevens's poem Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird, where a dark animal is visualized, felt, intentionalized in 13 different ways. Note in way number IX, the blackbird flew out of sight to mark the edge of a circle. It is in this vein that I've constructed a series of programs to see the "edge of the circles" inherent in a circular collection of bouncing, traveling, spewing circles of different shapes and sizes. Can you spot the invisible circles in each video? Of course they are not actually circles, but rather absences of circles, which make them circular. No wonder we say "be there or be square"; because "being there" (or not) is the circular thing to do. Implemented in Processing.

presentation of circle in everyday life

We are wearing circles everyday. In the history of symbiosis, there are those organisms that helped each other achieve unprecedented goals, like cells that absorbed mitochondria to process energy, or trees that cohabited with fungi that scavenge their composites. So we are with circles. We make a mess of what we wear each day, but circles harmonize them all, bringing serenity and grace to any of our angular mistakes. See for example Liz Black's circle dress. The form is the content that hides our mistakes. What is it like to wear a circle? Better yet, what is it like to wear the circle implicit? The answer is: it's a stage show: a show for us and for our circles. We present our circles for all to see, and in turn they act in a role determined by their own circles. Circles are the way we communicate.

Inspired by Tomoko Nakamichi's book Pattern Magic and Erving Goffman's book The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, I seeked to understand those aspects of how we present ourselves to others nonverbally via shapes and forms. Taking out the human elements of emotions and persuasion, there's also the pure beauty and functionality of what shapes are to us. How do we present those shapes to others by dressing and making ourselves? Let's begin with the simplest form, the circle. Implemented in cloth and ribbons.

the circle from ipanema

We are told the same thing over and over. We hear the same songs over and over in our mind. The same chords come to our sleep to haunt us with their recurrence. Circles in space are cool, but what of the circles in time? Do they ripple through our 3-dimensional world like Sphere on Flatland (in 2D)?

Inspired by Tom Jobim's original version of The Girl from Ipanema, I improvised a song using the same chords, but developed to the nether reaches of the 3D domain. Internal structural elements are repeated and recombined, forming circular ripples in space-time. Note the removal of the classic phrasing in the middle of the piece, an attempt to evoke the circle unobserved, the Sphere from 4D who makes her imprint on our measly world. Ipanema will never be the same again.