January 2018 - November 2018
During the summer of 2018, I completed my second research project as an undergraduate at Mount Holyoke College. Throughout this time I worked with Spencer Smith in his lab at Mount Holyoke College where we used mathematical and computational methods to explore the behavior of fluid systems. There are a few different projects that are conducted in his lab, which I spent some time exploring during the Spring 2018 semester before beginning my project over the summer.
During the Spring 2018 semester I also took a course taught by Spencer Smith titled "Themes in Physics and Art". In this course we explored the intersection between physics and art. This involved examining the role that physics plays in artistic media and composition, as well as discussing how physics can be an inspiration for art. One of the units of this course had us studying the art of paper marbling, and how this particular artistic medium is dictated by physics, particularly fluid dynamics. During this unit, Spencer invited a couple of professional paper marblers based in Amherst MA to come to our class and give a demonstration on paper marbling. Everyone in the class was fascinated by the process of paper marbling, as well as the beautiful patterns that emerged from it.
Feeling inspired by this course, I decided that I wanted to use my time during the summer to study the intersection between physics and art more in depth. After discussing this with Spencer, he came to me with the perfect project to meet this goal: the paper marblers who gave the demo for our class showed an interest in working with us to study the physics behind the art of paper marbling. They would even allow us to come to their studio to conduct experiments on paper marbling. This proposal was really exciting to me, so I agreed to participate in this project.
While taking the physics and art course, I also developed an interest in fractals. When observing the images created from paper marbling, I noticed that they appear to have similar properties to some fractal images, particularly those that exhibit self-repeating patterns. This inspire me to incorporate fractals into my study and analyze the marbling images by determining if they have any fractal properties.
Throughout the summer, Spencer and I worked on developing a program that analyzed the fractal properties of an image, particularly the fractal dimension, that would be used on the images we created from paper marbling. Additionally, we spent two days in the paper marbling studio creating images by experimenting with the viscosity of the solution the paints are dripped on to, and the number of times we dragged the comb through the paints. The result was a collection of beautiful marbling images, most of which we ran through the program that was written to analyze them. The result from our analysis of the images was the conclusion that the images created from paper marbling do have fractal properties to them.
To present these findings, I created a research poster which I presented at the Mount Holyoke College SPS Summer Research Poster Session in September 2018. This project also led me to the APS Division of Fluid Dynamics Conference which took place in Atlanta Georgia in November 2018. At this conference I presented my poster at the technical poster session and attended some talks on various applications of fluid dynamics.
I have shared this poster below, which goes over some background information on paper marbling and fractals, then discusses the theory behind the project which was inspired by a paper cited in the poster. It also outlines the processes we used to create the marbling images, and analyze the images using a program written in Python. Finally, it discusses the results of the project as well as possibilities for future work.
A full-sized version of the poster can be viewed by clicking on the image.
For more information on the professional paper marblers we worked with, please visit Chena River Marblers on their website by clicking here