Where Science Meets Art

Michal Raz
"The Myth of the Two-Dimensional Plane"
The David Lopatie Hall of Graduate Studies

Is the world orderly? Most of us would hope that the answer to this apparently simple question is yes. If the world makes sense, we can look at our picture of the present and know what awaits us in the future. When we identify an order (for example, symmetry or even a fraction of a shape that resonates with symmetry), we know what to expect around the corner, what is hiding just beyond our field of vision. This knowledge calms us and creates in us feelings of harmony, aesthetics and beauty.

So is the world really an orderly place? Order is expressed in patterns. If we can understand the principles of the pattern, we can know how it will continue to develop and which directions it will take. If we limit this question (because our mental abilities are limited) to a two dimensional system, for example, a plane, then we arrive at a question with mathematical underpinnings that has intrigued humans more or less since the dawn of culture: Can one cover an infinite plane with finite, shaped tiles, without leaving open spaces between them ?

Of course there are simple basic solutions to this problem: One can tile a plane forever with squares or triangles. Such tiling exists in nature (honeycombs, for example). But the picture of the "world" becomes a bit more interesting and challenging when the tiles take on added shape, structure or complexity. This is what Michal Raz – a graduate of the Beit Berl College School of Art, 2013 – does in the run of her tiling (or in her burning desire to see the world as orderly). She "forgets" the "first rule of tiling" by redefining her tiles as she goes along, so that they change shape, revert and change again – yet ultimately they manage to fit together.

The problem is, of course, that the "world" is not a plane; there is an "out there" that is a complex, analog, noisy environment – in which order (the one we at least hope exists) is submerged deep beneath the surface.

With this insight, Raz moves from the "lab" in which she created for herself a controlled, limited environment (like an in vitro experiment), to a real one (in vivo, or even in situ). On photographic prints of desert landscapes, or of storms bending the crowns of palm trees – pictures of an apparently disorderly world – she tries to impose the order she discovered in her "lab." But the area that is tiled succeeds in covering only part of the picture, and the other parts remain wild, unavailable and unpredictable. The conclusion that sums up this series of works is one that is well known to any scientist: Further research is needed.

Curator: Yivsam Azgad