An Artist’s Modest Proposal

atom art snelson

In the dramatic causal/acausal debates of the 1920s, the Copenhagen people who argued to disallow any further “reality” atom models were declared the victors. Among the ideas left behind in the rush to get rid of physical models entirely was Louis de Broglie’s adaptation of Bohr’s model in which he replaced orbiting electrons with matter-waves.

The Nature of Structure

atom art snelson

Five essays complied for Kenneth Snelson’s Exhibition. From the booklet: “The scientist’s compelling drive to understand the nature of physical reality is occasionally shared by the artist. The exhibition KENNETH SNELSON: The Nature of Structure explores one artist’s long search for such understanding. It illuminates the commonality of that drive for both the artist and the scientist, yet also points up the essential differences in their methodologies.”

Portrait of the Atom

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This essay was first published as a booklet designed to accompany a showing of Snelson’s designs for the atom at Baltimore’s Maryland Science Center in 1981. Some of the graphics reproduced here were a part of that exhibit, others Snelson developed later. The text is essentially unchanged from the original.

Circles, Spheres, and Atoms

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From the article: “Standard polyhedra, tetrahedra, cubes, octahedra… have a sister variety of hedra whose faces are circles instead of polygons. I call these interesting forms that lack a customary name, “circlespheres”. The occasional references I have found for circles on spheres in mathematics are concerned with the problem of how, most economically, to pack a number of equal nonoverlapping circles on a sphere.”

Contemporanea International Art Magazine: Designs On The Universe

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In his quest for a working model of the atom, sculptor and photographer Kenneth Snelson has offered to weld the disparate realms of art and science. - Almost unknown to the art world, however, Snelson has also been laboring for almost thirty years on a third body of work which has taken him deeply into territory usually forbidden to artists.

An Artist’s Atom, Kenneth Snelson (pdf)

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The author discusses his ongoing artwork visualized with the help of a graphics computer. Because quantum physics is mathematical and non-pictorial, most people find it difficult to understand how the atom’s electron structure works. The artist’s purpose is to develop an architecture for the atom, a model appealing to the visual mind.

Industrial Design (pdf)

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These ideas began with an attempt to understand the symmetry laws for circles arranged on the surface of a sphere. I found that there is a close indentity between the characteristics of special circle groups and the quantum numbers which describe the dispostition of electrons in atoms.