Seeing with the Mind: from the Matrix into the Cloud

Pedro Campos and Ana Isabel Portugal
Proceedings of Bridges 2010: Mathematics, Music, Art, Architecture, Culture (2010)
Pages 471–474 Short Papers


In this paper, we aim at showing how to use a mathematical abstraction as a way of supporting a visual representation. A matrix is an abstract concept that is usable as a support to a data structure, which can represent objects from the real world. Its essential functionality is grounded on the order it provides to all its elements. This connection can be strengthened by another mathematical abstraction (e.g. a law of movement) which limits the way each point can move in relation to the others. A cloud is a set of connected water drops, which are therefore close to each other. If we have a set of drops loosely coupled, the cloud will vanish. We used the matrix concept and a law which represents the strength of connection between drops as a way to represent the cloud set through a restrict programming language, Java, using Processing as a subset of that language in order to visualize graphically that object from the real world. The visualization of the screen cloud is therefore made through its decomposition in points stored in elements / ellipses / drops inside a matrix. Also, a mathematical model of the relative movement of the points is used to visualize the cloud in the place and with the shape the artist wants. So, the abstract conceptualization imagined in the artist’s mind is then visually represented in the computer screen and can be appreciated by others.