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Pollockian Mechanics: Painting with Viscous Jets – Andrzej Herczyński

Date: Thu. February 23rd, 2012, 4:15 pm-5:15 pm
Location: Rockefeller 301

Beginning around 1945, an American Abstract Expressionist painter Jackson Pollock invented and perfected a new artistic technique based on pouring and dripping liquid pigment onto a canvas stretched horizontally on the floor. In so doing, he creatively engaged fluid phenomena, in effect inviting physics to co-author his pieces. Long recognized as important and influential by art historians, Pollock’s works, and the tangled webs he created, have recently received attention also from scientists. But although the artist manipulated gravitational flows to achieve his aims, the fluid dynamical aspects of his process remained largely unexplored. I will discuss Pollockian Mechanics-the physics of lifting paint by viscous adhesion and dispensing it in free jets-focusing on the role of fluid instability. This technique will be contrasted with flows of pigment employed by other painters. I will also comment on the scaling regularities of poured abstractions and their possible affinity to the ”geometry of nature.”

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