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Monday November 24th 2014

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The Science of Art

By Hana Frenette

The life of an artist and that of a chemist might not seem like an easily unified thing, but Doug Craft is joining the two seamlessly.

Craft recently returned to Pensacola after a 34-year career as an environmental chemist in Colorado.

“I worked in an analytical testing lab for the Bureau of Reclamation, a federal department of the Interior Agency, and did research on trace metal chemistry and water quality in lakes and reservoirs,” Craft said.

Craft continued to make art while in Colorado as he did in the early ‘70s when he attended UWF. One thing inspired the next and aspects from each sect of his life were interchanged and used alongside the other.

“Science is a methodology for describing cause and effect in nature,” Craft said. “If it is done with the correct intention, it is a creative vocation just like visual art or music.”

Scientific methods or mathematical variations can be used as an aid in formulating a picture or representing something the same way a photograph or a painting sometimes can.

Craft often uses what is called “Divine Geometry,” or the “Golden Ratio,” in his art, and will be giving several lectures on the technical and scientific aspects of each and the way they are brought about in his work.

“The Golden Ratio is an irrational number, an infinite non-repeating decimal, equal to 0.61803,” Craft said. “It appears throughout nature at many different scales and is one of the fundamental proportionality constants of physical matter and living things.”

The Golden Ratio can be found in the bones in your fingers and the sizes of the planets. It’s something occurring naturally in just about every aspect of nature.

“Sacred Geometry is a complex subject that includes mysticism associated with numbers, like the Pythagoreans, but also the design of sacred places, for example, the temples and the pyramids that embody the Golden Ratio,” Craft said.

Apparently, there is a science to beauty. Study the formulas just right and you can create, imitate, and replicate nature to the point of perfection.

Several of Craft’s ideas on aesthetics have been published in academic books, and will be elaborated on for his lecture series, “The Golden Ratio and the Aesthetics Based on the Structure of Nature.”

“I will discuss fractals, and how I define beauty in art as an emulation of the forms found in nature,” he said. “It is a fundamental mystery as to why the universe is structured like this, but it is there for anyone who will take the time to look.”

Craft has been making collages and shooting photography, using computer programs to infuse and manipulate the two, and sometimes incorporating figurative backgrounds and foregrounds while maintaining the idea of using the Golden Ratio.

Craft’s current exhibit, “N Golden Rectangle Collages,” will be on display at Open Books until the end of October, which focuses on using abstract natural images and a combination of micro, macro, landscape, and planetary images to emulate the universal structure of nature.

Art imitates life, and life is just science. Which is made into art. And so the circle continues.

Art Explorations at Artel Lecture Series: ‘The Golden Ratio and Aesthetics Based on the Structure of Nature’
WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 10
WHERE: Artel Gallery, 223 Palafox Pl.
COST: free
DETAILS: artelgallery.org