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Darwinian Evolution

Crochet hyperbolic forms by Anitra Menning, Margaret Werthem, Daina Taimina.

In constructing our reef, we at the IFF have taken the techniques initiated by Dr Taimina and elaborated upon them. Over the past two years, through increasingly freeform experimentation, we have discovered that tiny changes in the underlying crochet algorithms will result in major changes to the resulting forms. By exploiting this insight we have gradually evolved a wide taxonomy of hyperbolic crochet “species.” To our surprise, the range of possible forms seems to be endless, yet they all result from extremely simple instruction sets. Just as the teeming variety of living species on earth result from different versions of the DNA-based genetic code, so too a huge range of crochet hyperbolic species have been brought into being through minor modifications to the underlying code. As time progresses the models have “evolved” from the simple purity of Dr Taimina’s mathematically precise algorithms to more complex aberrations that invoke ever more naturalistic forms.

Crochet hyperbolic forms by Marianne Middelberg and Helen Bernasconi.

Anyone who takes up crocheting these structures can begin to develop their own evolutionary pathways and one of the more exciting aspects of the project has been the astonishing variety of forms that have been developed by our collaborators. During the past 4 years the Institute has conducted workshops in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, London and many other cities; each time participants have developed hitherto unexpected forms with innovations of their own. All of these species are being incorporated into the overall Reef, which is quintessentially a collective project. Participants are now invoved from across the USA, from Australia, Canada and the UK. During workshops, discussions arise naturally around the theme of evolution and the parallels between these yarn-based forms and natural living things. The Crochet Reef thus serves to engage audiences on the subject of evolution and to demonstrate playfully how evolution works.

Crochet hyperbolic forms by Margaret Wertheim, Helen Bernasconi, and Daina Taimina.