Fractals — irregular shapes that can be broken down into parts closely resembling the whole — are everywhere in nature: Clouds, mountain ranges, coastlines and broccoli are just a few examples.
This mathematical phenomenon can now also be found at the Crossing Art gallery, on the ground floor of the Queens Crossing mall in Flushing, where artistic renderings of fractals are on display until Feb. 14.
The exhibition, called “Fractal Unity,” opened last Saturday. It highlights fractal-like properties in the works of three New York-based multimedia artists — Hyungsub Shin, Hong Seon Jang and Buhm Hong — all of whom are originally from Korea and also happen to be good friends.
The gallery conceived the concept for the exhibition and approached the artists after noticing the recurrence of fractals in their work.
“The thing that struck us as we got to know each of the artists was not just this sense of growth by division, this kind of brachial growth, but also the mathematical nature of fractals,” said Patrick Regan, the gallery’s director.
One of the most captivating pieces in the show — and the work that inspired the exhibition, according to Assistant Director Maria Boobis — is Hong’s “Hide and Seek,” a duo of mobile-like, kinetic sculptures made out of copper pipes that the artist said represents a map of his mind. Whimsical figures cut from a two-way mirror hang from the sculpture, and, as the work’s title suggests, seem like the product of a childhood reverie.
“I always focus on the space,” explained Hong at the exhibit’s press preview on Jan. 12. “My main question is how my imagination and memories involve space in the process of perception.”
Like a fractal, any portion of “Hide and Seek” is analogous to the whole. A motor spins the tangles of metal while a projector casts the likeness of the sculptures on the surrounding walls, giving the work an added dimension.
Hong also contributed a video installation to the exhibition, in addition to a series of drawings titled “Something Forgotten,” that depict chimerical figures similar to those hanging from the pipes in “Hide and Seek” — one resembles a sea horse and another a bird. Using white pen and silver pigment on black paper, Hong formed the images with countless, distinguishable individual dots, the effect of which is reminiscent of constellations in the night sky.
“I try to figure out the shape of my memories,” Hong said of the drawings.
Regan and Boobis, who curate most of Crossing Art’s exhibitions themselves, stress that the processes that went into creating each of the works in “Fractal Unity” are crucial to understanding and appreciating the finished pieces. The work that perhaps draws most attention to the artist’s method is Jang’s “Landscape,” a site-specific installation that consists of orange glue drizzled over clear fishing lines affixed to two walls, giving the impression that the drippings are suspended in the air.
“Every single one of these works speaks of a sense of meticulousness,” Regan said. “For two days, [Jang] was here dripping glue … It’s very meditative, almost like he’s performing a ritual.”
In his artist’s statement, Jang explains his affinity for working with found objects and products used in everyday life.
“In giving these everyday materials new meanings and aesthetic possibilities, I strive to actively practice the concepts of the Eastern philosophies of the circulatory life system and the continuous flow of connections,” he writes. Two of the artist’s older and less abstract works, titled “Forest” and “Black Forest #2,” are also on view at Crossing Art. They consist of pieces of tape affixed to a black background — the layers of tape form the images of trees in a wood.
Like Jang, Shin also makes use of everyday objects in his art. His works capture an amazing property inherent to fractals — though oddly shaped, fractals produce repetitive similarities, pointing to a kind of order even amidst chaos. In Shin’s “Uprooted” series, which features cotton mops whose heads have been tied to resemble tree tops with progressively smaller branches, the artist mimics a naturally-occurring fractal.
Shin also created one of the more conspicuous — and at first glance, incongruous — objects in the exhibition: a four-foot long replica of a head of Indian corn made with real kernels.
“It doesn’t seem to fit in with the ‘fractalness,’ but you’re dealing with math, with the kernel as a unit of information,” explains Regan. “The kernel cannot change, but the sum of information can.”
When: Through Feb. 14. Tues.-Sun. 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
Where: Crossing Art, Queens Crossing mall, 136-17 39 Ave., Flushing