Dripping Drops

Commentary art
March 2015

     I was inspired by nonlinear systems and the idea that small disruptions can result in great changes in the systems, which makes them hard to predict. I am still surprised that even with how far humans have come with innovation, we still haven’t managed to figure out everything or even truly predict the weather. Nonlinear systems still leave mysteries for us to solve and to prepare for. We can perceive small patterns but they are never enough for us to really create a rule so that when x happens, y will happen. The basis of my project is inspired by a quote from Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia: “We can’t even predict the next drip from a dripping tap when it gets irregular. Each drip sets up conditions for the next, the smallest variation blows prediction apart, and the weather will always be unpredictable”.


     Thus the end results of my project are separate pieces of paper which record pigments from drips of paints through a “water marbling” process. This process meant dripping different colored acrylic paints onto a layer of water (which would leave pigment on the surface of the water) and then having paper absorb the “resulting” pigment (which in most cases were patterns). What I was attempting to capture was how a simple change in the system could affect the turnout greatly and that it is pretty much impossible to replicate a nonlinear system. I wanted to focus on how drips are all different from each other and how one cannot guess how the drips or piece will turn out. I tried my best to keep the drips consistent (as in dripping at the same height and with the same amount of pressure), but like Stoppard stated, I still really had no control on the outcome. Aside from that there are also so many uncontrollable and unpredictable aspects in the environment that affects the drip itself and what the drips results in. I created six pieces in total which tested “similar” drips in different environments, with the first one just attempting to show that no drips are the same in the first place. I also included pieces that were made with considerations of weather, another nonlinear system (precisely rain and wind).


     At the end, I found that the unpredictable and ever-changing characteristics of nonlinear systems were reaffirmed. With the first piece in which the environment was very stable, the drops were definitely different- reflecting how each previous drop affected the next drop and with each additional drop, the surface of the water would change in some way. The various resulting patterns in the remaining pieces reveal how the result of nonlinear systems can be so different even though the creation process is the same.