A drop of fresh rain, sliding down a leaf and falling to the grass below, can mesmerize a young child. A knowing adult can explain how the molecular structure of the water magnifies the leaf’s surface, allowing a glimpse of its intricate design.
Ezra Satok-Wolman’s I Am Hydrogen aspires to all of it – the child’s awe, the adult’s discerning gaze, and nature’s perfect design.
With its disciplined symmetry, the piece not only carries visual power but also heaps of scientific and philosophical reflection. The torus (doughnut) form symbolizes both infinity and emptiness, the Toronto-area artist explains; there’s a continuous ring and a vortex. “Blood vessels, galaxies, and the Earth’s geomagnetic field take on the torus form,” he notes.
The phyllotaxis pattern woven atop the torus is seen in flowers and various plants, he says; “it’s nature’s formula for arranging matter in the most efficient way possible.”
I Am Hydrogen lies somewhere between discovery and creation, as Satok-Wolman plays both explorer and designer, looking not only to nature and science, but also to complex mathematics. He knows the viewer may not appreciate the calculations behind the piece. No matter.
“My hope is that my audience recognizes the beauty of the math, the order, and the systems,” he says, “whether they understand the numbers or not.”