Tessellation Tango mural at The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute

Tessellation Tango

Tessellation Tango mural at The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute

Perched high on the steep slopes of a hill overlooking Berkeley, California, The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) has a spectacular site, with a view across the bay to the Golden Gate Bridge and beyond.

Tesselation Tango mural
The two types of rhombic tiles can be arranged into a Penrose tiling.

Visitors to MSRI are also greeted by a fascinating tile mural that stretches across a wall beside the entrance to the building.  Designed by Linda Vanderkolk and Scott Frankenberger and installed in 2006, the geometric mosaic is titled Tessellation Tango.

Tessalation Tango
Two types of rhombic tiles combine to form a “tumbling blocks” pattern

The artwork includes about 950 hand-made porcelain tiles of two basic rhombic shapes (a skinny diamond and a fat diamond).  On the left side, the tiles combine into a “tumbling blocks” or “reversing cube” pattern.  On the right side, the tiles fit together to form fragments of a Penrose tiling.

Tessellation Tango tile mural
The middle section of the Tessellation Tango tile mural

The middle section of the mural tries to reconcile the two distinct tiling patterns, presenting a dialog between the two forceful approaches to organization.  The artists imagine this interaction as a dance – as communication in search of commonalities; all set against a chaotic background of fragmented white tiles.

Tesselation Tango (detail)
Tesselation Tango (detail)

About two thirds of the porcelain tiles are inscribed with numbers, mathematical expressions, concepts, and names.

Tesselation Tango (detail)
Tesselation Tango (detail)

“We explore possible patterns within the tessellations, and then patterns within the pattern, augmented by color repetitions or shape development,” Vanderkolk and Frankeberger note. “The frame of the mural is not the limit of the visual field.  We can imagine more patterns and new forms implied unfolding in the imaginary zone beyond the edges.”

“The kind of thinking that artists often use—exploration, discovery, creativity, synthesis—is the very same at its root as that used by mathematicians,” they add.  “The different ways of looking at the same forms and patterns, both far away and close up, leads to enlightened new thinking, and inspiration.”

Photography by I Peterson
Text from http://mathtourist.blogspot.co.uk/2011/02/tessellation-tango.html

A new post by Joe Simpson, Diary of a Tile Addict, August 2017.

3 thoughts on “Tessellation Tango

  1. Just happened to see this post! If you enjoy this mosaic, you’d like seeing the one we previously did indoors at Ivy Hall (a continuous long loop between their first & second floors), for Ivy Tech Community College in Lafayette, Indiana, using 6 different tile patterns
    …And it was great fun designing, creating and installing them.
    I’ve also created environmental mosaics at schools using recycled nature images under glass as the tesserae: “Ice Pie” and “Ice Pie Spirals”

    Liked by 1 person

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