Thursday, 27 September 2012

Paris, decomposed

Believe it or not, one of the prettiest things I’ve seen, I learned about it in a civil engineering class.  It is called the Fourier analysis.  It is basically a way to break up any arbitrary pattern into a set of simple and easily understood parts – an extremely useful tool in many fields. Why? Imagine trying to describe or remember the paint color on your bedroom walls:  yes, yes, it’s definitely warmer than “Light French Gray”, but not as dark as “Plum Granite”, with a slight hint of indigo. And you are still not sure. The Fourier analysis is the paint mixing gadget at Home Depot that tells you just exactly how many drops of the basic red, blue, or yellow you’ll need to get the perfect color.
This analysis is also known as the harmonic analysis, because oscillating waves of different frequencies and sizes are used as these simple parts. The theory says that by adding enough of the right kinds of waves together, you can match any pattern. Here is a classic example of how curvy waves can approximate a square zigzag. I was a little skeptical until I saw how it worked.
Ever since I first learned about this in class (oh, so many years ago), these waves lingered in my mind. I’ve always wanted to use this concept to create something beautiful. To me, the combination of waves resembles buildings and city skylines.  They are the unique signature and blend of characteristics that make up each city or landmark. That’s why, as an homage to Joseph Fourier who taught in Paris in the 1790s, I chose to do a composition (or decomposition) of the romantic Paris skyline.
Also, just because, Paris is Paris.
A few days ago, I came across this excerpt from the book “A Year in the Merde” by Stephen Clarke.
What a delightful way to live! Happy New Year, Paris.

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