Voronoi diagrams at the Milwaukee Art Museum

Contemporary art involving video projection is not usually my favorite kind of contemporary art, but if you’re near Milwaukee it’s worth the effort to catch Act/React at the MAM before it closes on January 11. The small exhibition consists of eight works, each one of which records, modifies, and displays the actions of the people watching it. Brian Knep’s Healing Pool projects a vaguely biological yellow-orange pattern on the floor. When you walk on the floor, the blobby forms squirm away from your feet. With a little experimentation you can figure out how to stamp out a cleared trail, which the blobs flow in to cover as soon as you step away. As you can imagine, CJ was crazy for this — he ran around for about five minutes shouting “I’m making a circle!” which, indeed, he was. For mathematicians — and, again, three-year-olds — the highlight is Scott Snibbe’s Boundary Functions (named after Ted Kaczynksi’s Ph.D. thesis!) In this piece, the overhead camera registers the location of people walking on the floor, and the projector places a Voronoi diagram around them.

You’re enclosed in a lighted polygon consisting of all those points on the floor which are closer to you than to any other spectator. It’s simultaneously quite pretty to look at, at least somewhat thought-provoking, and a completely successful, completely wordless piece of mathematical exposition. CJ spent a long time on this one, too, “chasing the line.”

Here’s a review of the whole show from artblog Rhizome.

Of course, the Milwaukee Art Museum merits a visit just for the building; and there’s a rather good permanent collection upstairs, usually kind of underpopulated, strong on the German Expressionism, outsider art, and views of Lake Michigan.

One thought on “Voronoi diagrams at the Milwaukee Art Museum

  1. [...] DIAGRAMS AT THE MILWAUKEE ART MUSEUM Voronoi diagrams at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Scott Snibbe’s design Boundary Functions, as blogged by [...]

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