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Mathematical characterization of Bridget Riley's stripe paintings

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posted on 21.07.2020, 21:56 by Neil Dodgson
I investigate whether mathematical measures can characterize Bridget Riley's stripe paintings. This is motivated by three considerations: (1) stripe paintings are an incredibly constrained art form, therefore it should be relatively straightforward to ascertain whether or not there is a mathematical characterization; (2) Bridget Riley's approach to composition is methodical and thoughtful, so we can assume that her paintings are carefully constructed rather than random and (3) Riley's paintings can appear random on a first glance but have an underlying structure, therefore Riley's works are challenging to characterize because they are close to random while not actually being so. I investigate entropy (both global and local), separation distance and auto-correlation. I find that all can provide some characterization, that entropy provides the best judge between Riley's work and randomly generated variants, and that the entropy measures correlate well with the art-critical descriptions of Riley's development of this style over the five years in which she worked with it. © 2012 Taylor & Francis.

History

Preferred citation

Dodgson, N. A. (2012). Mathematical characterization of Bridget Riley's stripe paintings. Journal of Mathematics and the Arts, 6(2-3), 89-106. https://doi.org/10.1080/17513472.2012.679468

Journal title

Journal of Mathematics and the Arts

Volume

6

Issue

2-3

Publication date

01/06/2012

Pagination

89-106

Publisher

Informa UK Limited

Publication status

Published

ISSN

1751-3472

eISSN

1751-3480

Language

en

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