Final: Dripping drops

Title: Dripping Drops
Artist: Crystal Nguyen
Style: Nonlinear Dynamic System-based art
Technique: Marble painting
Material: Acrylic paints, water, plastic bin, heavyweight drawing paper, water dropper

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 Wilson’s book which mentions 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” (Wilson 237).
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.
1 6 2 3 4 5
1. The first piece focused on just capturing drips in a stable environment. Notice how none of the drips are similar at all.
2. This had the same focus as the first except I added more water to the acrylic paint, thus each drop drastically affected the pattern made on the surface of the water (each drip would move the surface greatly), which is why there seems to be swirls.
3. Done in a raining environment.
4. Done in a windy environment. In both piece 3&4, the pigments of the drips are very integrated due to the continuous disturbances from the environment on the surface of the water.
5. Done in stable environment, however the water was not stable (water was moving due to transportation of the bin from sink to table).
6. Same as 5.
Although the processes of creating these pieces were very similar, the resulting patterns are not similar at all (reaffirming the idea that nonlinear systems are unpredictable and impossible to replicate).

– Crystal Nguyen


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