The Fractal 3-Line Matrix

The Fractal 3-Line Matrix is an instrument to generate an interpretation of a text. It offers four levels of interaction, which I deploy in order, but you may explore differently. These interactions enable the exploration of four types of relationships to be found in meaning making: triadic, binary, fractal, and symmetric.
Triadic relation: The Matrix centrally contains three main, intersecting axes. Each axis is to be designated with one of three main themes a reader determines a text to contain. The axes intersect to avoid ordering them hierarchically, as a list, an added benefit of which will be apparent in the fourth step.
Binary relation:The ends of each axis are named with a term that designates the axis themes’ boundaries. These outliers can be any binaries termed significant. They do not need to be opposites.
Fractal relation: In a fractal movement that repeats the steps above, the six outliers of the three axes may each be outfitted with their own matrices, and so on.
Symmetric relation: Finally, the contraption is set in motion. Spinning or flipping the axes around their center, the relations among the outliers and their fractals can be varied, promoting new readings of the material, horizontally across the field, or along the vertical ‘stacks’ forming left and right.

As a diagrammatic instrument, the Fractal 3-Line Matrix incarnates at two scales, promoting different relations with the material at hand. Vertically mounted, sized 4'x6', for example as a preprinted whiteboard, it envelopes a standing user by filling the visual field. At 11"x17", it is model sized for use on a horizontal surface and with a more disembodied, birds-eye perspective, for example as part of a poster or handout. The matrix first emerged in 2011, above is an updated version from 2019.

Conference Condensations
The Fractal 3-Line Matrix evolved from my attempts to condense conference notes I took. I found myself settling on three, main topics, and arranged them on axes to show I was not ranking them. Other features of the matrix developed from there. Eventually I shared conference notes back to organizers and attendees, through posters and publications in proceedings. More intuitive images also emerge from experiences and interactions, often in advance of a matrix score, such as the 'Blue Gaze', seen above, in an image from the follow-up meeting to the 'Artist as Problem Solver'convening' Tracie Hall had organized, and DeAmon Harges had responded to on-site. These are notes, and the full matrix for that event. Previous conference projects are shown here. The 'Blue Gaze' later expanded into a series of drawings on vellum, shown here in various superimpositions when clicking the screen.

Conversations with Artists and Musicians
The conversation with Tomeka Reid was part of a cycle of interactions with musicians, composers, and experimental sound artists, probing verbal and embodied responses to each other's processing modes. Following a conversation about how the artist works, I created a drawing. For all but the first of those, which preceded the Matrix, I also transposed my notes of the conversation onto a Fractal 3-Line Matrix. Tomeka joined me at the Roger Brown residency in New Buffalo, where I did not have a pre-printed whiteboard, but plenty of paper. She then improvised in response to the drawings. Altogether, I interacted with about 30 artists and experimental musicians in this way. Here are examples.
Understanding Arts Ecologies
This diagram was commissioned by Esther Grimm for 3Arts. The initial premise of the commission was to discuss with artists how not winning a grant might impact them. This expanded to a larger catalog of questions about how artists engage with grant writing. We presented this at the Grantmakers in the Arts (GIA) conference: The NEW Creative Community, in 2013, and I published an essay about it in an Austrian journal, Triedere, in 2018. This project is part of a body of work that includes projects with the South East Chicago Commission (SECC), and the Foundation for Homan Square.

Parsing Texts
This is an example of using the 3-Line Matrix with a text, Gilles Deleuze's "Spinoza: Practical Philosophy" translated by Robert Hurley, 1988. To populate the three central axes, I followed Deleuze's categorization of Spinoza's work into three frames, the Materialist, the Atheist, and the Immoralist. From this triadic relation follow the binaries. Each frame is bounded by a 'detrimental' and a 'productive' concept (sorted into the symmetrical stacks), for example 'sad passios' and 'active joys'. Fractals evolve from these, but their binaries are more often complementary than contrasting. The template (here printed on paper, 4' x 6') was updated in 2019 for inclusion in the exhibition, Membrane, in Berlin. A preprinted whiteboard was available for audience use and workshops.
Straw Star
"In January 2016, I came across a box containing my childhood arts and crafts, about 500 pieces. In the box I found a straw star. Three pale, short stalks, crossed, wound together with a white string – a Christmas ornament. There were three related collages: each contained four stalks from a different batch of straw in primary colors, flattened and glued on paper, intersecting in the center; more stalks delineated the edges of the paper. Two of the collages also contained lines, drawn with felt tip pen around the center, one a closed loop, the other an open spiral." Excerpt from "Thought Catchers - An Artist Talk".