Ingrid Christie graduated from the University of Central Lancashire with first class honours in Fine Art. She also completed two years of a science degree and after gaining 100% in mathematics at Luton University it was suggested she pursue a career in statistics or applied maths. These areas of study feed heavily into Chrisite's art practice.
Although logic and science play a significant role, Christie's interest in Taoist philosophy spans thirty years and is also ever present in all she creates.
The 'Inter' series knits together these diverse strands of interest, from the mystical to the scientific. What has transpired, is the birth of a new breed of painting - a whole that bears witness to the sum of all its parts whilst giving each part a performative role. A painting that can be reconfigured into billions of combinations.
The mathematics involved in the deconstruction and reformulation of these paintings is almost incomprehensible. Permutations are so high they cannot be worked out using a standard calculator. The number of unique variations for 'Inter 1' sits at 245 billion. Put another way, if a new combination of the painting was to be viewed every second, it would take 7,000 years to view every one.
Calculations for each painting differ as some contain blank panels. For example there are two blanks in 'Inter 1' and one blank in 'Inter 2'. All panels can also be rotated 180 degrees.
In determining how the variations should be viewed, Christie turned to one of the mainstays of her practice - that of embracing serendipity, of elevating the importance of the random. She contacted Richard Cross - a web designer and photographer at Summerhall in Edinburgh where she is currently artist-in-residence and asked if he could design a program that would randomly generate each of the 12 panels into new and ongoing sequences. It was important that each viewer be able to initiate 'their own' unique painting and that the painting could be accessed online to reach a wide audience.
The outcome is that each viewer online or in the gallery is able to generate new random formulations of the paintings. No two prints will ever be repeated, enabling each viewer to own their own unique version if they so wish. Thousands of versions will also be lost forever with each click of the mouse.
Art historically, the paintings feed into various debates, including Walter Benjamin's essay 'The Work of Art in The Age of Mechanical Reproduction' and more recently discussions on copyright, since each print is effectively a one off and unique original.
Aesthetically the paintings have been created to be viewed in landscape format only. Just try angling your computer 90 degrees to see that visually, the painting is less harmonious aesthetically when viewed in portrait format.
So what does this say about the human capacity for creativity and aesthetics? Mathematics since Euclid has studied the aesthetically pleasing effects by a formula known as the golden ratio (also known as the golden rectangle, golden mean and divine proportion amongst other names). Although Christie's paintings were not constructed with the golden ratio consciously in mind, she did have to pay heed considerably to the ratios of form, space, line and colour. She also had to bear in mind the interconnectedness of the pieces and how they might work as a reconfigured whole.
'Inter 1' began on many levels of thinking. One of those was the recognition of an age old dilemma in which the artist sought, like many other painters, to break free from the constraints of the four barriers of the rectangle or square. There was also a desire to break the static nature of a painting, to free it from itself, to give the painting a life of its own, permitting it to interact with the viewer or some other form of motivator. So to some degree the paintings acquire a shifting reciprocity that relates to each and every individual wishing to engage with it. The painting addresses much in terms of philosophy and discussion. It is all at once a mathematical calculation with unknown outcomes; in other words a paradox. It is experiential and yet impossible to experience in its entirety of configurations, rendering it both visible and invisible. The relationship to Taoism seems acutely paralleled, since the essential meaning of 'Tao' is that it is both knowable and yet unknowable.
In Christie's eyes the crucial initial consideration in creating these pieces is giving free rein to the subconscious mind. The painting process cannot of course be given over entirely to the subconscious, more the painting initiates a dance between the conscious and its counterpart. A beautiful dance beginning with total faith and an open mind.
In the exhibition space the original painting will sit alongside a computer-generated projection of itself. The digital painting will randomly reformulate when the viewer clicks a wireless mouse, and the clicking can go on, and on, and on…