Week 13 – Artist Interview – Marty Knop

Today, I got the opportunity to talk to Marty Knop. He is pursuing a MFA in Printmaking. What really drew me to Knop’s exhibit was the abstract nature of his art. Everything was well defined, but it was not at the same time. If you look at the details individually, you recognize shapes and sharp differences in the colors. When you look at the picture as a whole, the combination of shapes and colors takes on a whole new meaning.

The process in making these pieces is just as interesting as the artwork itself. Printmaking has a lot to do with fashion and visual aesthetics. I think that the reason for this is because it is the way that we make clothing. Patterns, logos, shapes, etc are printed onto our clothing. As far as the process though, Knop uses Mathematica in order to create his shapes. This is really cool to me because as a civil engineering student, mathematica is a powerful tool to calculate equations. To use a computer program to create visual art is taking it to another level in my opinion and never crossed my mind.


Knop uses a combination of different snippets. He makes simple rules or constraints to create his individual geometric shapes. He uses mathematical equations to create shapes such as hyperboles and parabolas. He then uses calculus function to turn these shapes 3d using Mathematica. In calculus, we would solve for the amount of space that a perfect sphere would take up, or it’s volume. Knop uses calculus to configure the shape of a sphere and uses it in his printmaking.

Before Knop used Mathematica, he used Microsoft excel to solve a large number of equations at once. He would then take the numbers and draw a graph on the program with it. The graph used cartesian coordinates and the numbers would create a pattern in 2d. He began using matrices to create three dimensional objects. Manipulating the matrices with parameters and constraints was able to create a push and pull effect on the shapes he made, which is similar to another artist using different techniques to create contrasting effects with their art, such as using lass additives with their paint to create a rougher, clumper texture.

I also got to talk to Knop personally about art and mathematica. It seemed appropriate and it certainly led to a conversation worth remembering. As a civil engineering student, there is a part of me that is looking for the solution. One unique solution or best way to solve a problem. Once you have unique solution, all creativity is removed. The process of finding that solution can be creative. Maybe the best way to solve the problem is this way. No? Then we look for another way to solve the problem. Science and Math differ from Art because creativity and art usually does not have a clear answer. Science and math try to explain concepts with a clear answer. Our conversation went far and wide, but we compared how CSULB engineering’s focus was to help students get jobs, while schools such as MIT does not focus on that, but rather focuses on the student’s creativity. Nonetheless, it doesn’t take much creativity to get good grades and that is always the bottom line.


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