Gerhard Mayer: Analog Analogy


German artist Gerhard Mayer's ink drawings — hand-drawn though they appear they could only be computer generated — follow seven rules:

1.  Every sheet of paper is 34.3 x 43.4 cm.

2.  Each drawing is made with one ellipse.

3.  The ellipse must always lie in the horizontal.

4.  No ellipse may transect the edge of the paper.

5.  A complete ellipse may not be drawn.

6.  In each position of the ellipse stencil, at least three lines must be generated.

7.  Only lines may be generated, not points.


The rules for the drawings came about accidentally, through experimentation with the elliptical stencils Mayer had used as a carpenter's apprentice. While exploring whether the aesthetics of drafting could be used to express his artistic ideas, he noticed that he was following identifiable procedures, which, when written down, looked like the rules of a game. What he discovered, and continues to discover, is that despite such a restrictive system, the visual possibilities multiply drawing after drawing. 


Mayer's interest in quantum physics becomes apparent in the outcome of the drawings. Like measuring devices used by scientists to illustrate invisible matter and phenomena, the repetitive accumulation of lines appears to depict dynamic energy fields or microscopic structures. Mayer's "organic" rules parallel scientific theories that have identified a systematic set of laws behind almost everything in the universe. And these rules, rather than limiting him, lead to endless and astonishing possibilities.