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Benjamin Wells


"Place Triads Please"

Deck of 30-50 laminated two-sided 4.25” by 5.5” cards (color printer on photo stock), bead-chained together in a deck and held in a rack for viewing and restacking with the viewer’s chosen sides face up; the cards swivel on the chain, and all of it can fit within the holder. The holder sits on a horizontal surface accessible to visitors for manipulation of the cards., 2009.

Laminated cards swiveling on a loop of beadchain can be flipped front to back, making a newly faced deck. If there are n cards (30 < n < 50), then there are 2^n different decks. The cards come in three types: symbolic, verbal, and imperative. Each of the first two has a triad of items. Some are clear to practitioners in various fields of science; others are more whimsical, mysterious. Cards in the third set involve two words that may be commands, or poems. The three types are intermingled in the deck; front and back have the same type.


"Flying to the Light"

Stat on film edge-taped on colored matboard, 9” x 3” with an explanatory 5” x 3” placard,1993.

The winged heart is a symbol used by Southwest Airlines, the Flying Karamazov Brothers, and many Sufi groups. This version is based on the symbol of Sufism Reoriented. Apart from the asymmetric stylized numeral 1, it has a mirror symmetry, an invariance under Z_2. It is also word art.

Benjamin Wells, Professor of Mathematics and Professor of Computer Science, Department of Mathematics and Department of Computer Science, University of San Francisco
San Francisco, California

"The art offered this year is a combination of rather old and very new. The flexibility of computer-aided design and execution is apparent in each of these. A soaring (and returning) frame of unity from the past join a new set of triples of combinatorial complexity. I used to think in threes because my name ends in III. (For more about small numbers, see Michael Schneider’s Constructing the Universe.) Although I am now partial to 8, 17, 36, 1111, and 10^10, I wholly support only 1 alone. But three things can start a sequence, express a contrast or equivalence, or triangulate. Sometimes here they pose a micromystery. Math is fun, and art can help make that clear. When it can also take a supportive, spiritual, inspirational, cooperative color, then it is a harbinger of a new humanity. I try to make art that way."