Archive for category Research

Experimental Immersive Animation

Quantum LOGOS (vision serpent)

The dreamlike character of earthly existence, the mask of unknowing which beguiles us as human beings, is a function of our human perspective and teotl’s (divine reality) artistic self-disguise (these being ultimately one and the same!) — not a metaphysical dualism inherent in the make-up of things.

Maffie, J. (2014). Aztec philosophy: Understanding a world in motion. University Press of Colorado.

Design Approach: exploring science with design archetypes

For the past numerous years, I’ve been researching Maya and Mexica (Aztec) culture, art, and philosophy. To get a better understanding of indigenous American ideas, aside from studying the books mentioned before, I began to study Huasteca Nahuatl, a Uto-Aztecan based language. It is one of the 63 indigenous languages of Mexico. Studying an indigenous language helped in understanding the nature and depth of the culture. In particular, it helped me understand the emotive pathos expressed in metaphor in poetry and prose native to the region.

I have found opportunities to expand this research using collective ideas on similar themes in the Arts to illustrate concepts in quantum physics. Focusing on my ethnic background, people living in the southwestern United States, and Mexico, we examine some of these details and describe how we produced the solutions used in the artwork. Many questions arise in the context of our approach. We take special care not to usurp cultural icons that we can only begin to understand.

Quantum LOGOS (vision serpent) explores ideas behind the counter-intuitive concepts presented in myth, archetype, and memory, focusing on quantum theory. I started this project in earnest in January 2019. I don’t claim to have the expertise of scholars deeply immersed in a philosophical study of their beliefs. Instead, I interpreted ideas and used colors, pacing, and design audio to elaborate on the Mesoamerican feeling. The outcome of this research is a short film and immersive art. My research on the topic began much earlier when I started reading books like James Maffie’s Aztec Philosophy: Understanding a World in Motion (Maffie, 2015) and Alexus McLeod’s Philosophy of the Ancient Maya: Lords of Time. (McLeod, 2017) These books offer a great view of the metaphysical, epistemological, and ethical wisdom of the Mexica and Maya civilizations. Taking these ideas without expropriating direct cultural imagery and studying other great cultures and the essence of their creation myths and themes provided a rich template from which to derive design inspiration. Quantum LOGOS (vision serpent) explores the basics of quantum-theory as expressed with design archetypes to shed new insights into natural phenomena. In this research project, we question the nature of existence through scientific observation and with a contemporary understanding of how the world work.

The UCLA Art-Sci Center and NTU School of Art, Design, and Media environment helped with discussions concerning the understandability of the content, helping connect the visuals and philosophical ideas explored with scientific concepts revealed in quantum theory. Coordinating all the elements into a unified and understandable media experience was the goal. The content assembled into a short film has the feel of a creation myth. It’s relatively easy to make stunning visual effects these days. The challenge comes in using these toolsets that are strong in replicating realistic visuals to create artworks that describe our subject matter in a way that the public can understand. Technically, the artwork employs a powerful virtual real-time rendering customized pallet and is entirely powered by code in Derivative Touchdesigner.

The most challenging aspect of this project concerned researching Mesoamerican design archetypes and equivocating them with accepted concepts in quantum theory. To accomplish this task, I had to make a concerted attempt to understand Mesoamerican thought and search for elements of Quantum theory that would match up. Though there is no direct connection between metaphysical naturalism that scientists or philosophers can document today, considering what we are able to learn with advanced technology, there are uncanny intuitive matchups with Mesoamerican philosophy.


How can we convey complex scientific concepts to a contemporary audience?

The project is a 10-minute real-time movie initially projected on the wall and the floor of a theater, followed by an interactive experience where I invite the audience to enter physically into the quantum field simulated on the floor and the wall and floor transition into an Interactive Interlude sequence. Designed to resemble the depths of a sacred Mayan cenote, where the audience enters the quantum world and sees the energy ripple the fields around them.

This project seeks to explore the complexity of reality as we know it. We try to understand it and then define it in terms of our respective design traditions. We examine the often complex scientific revelations that so profoundly impact our day to day life and discuss them through the lens of our cultural norms & practices. We do this in such a way as to make these concepts more easily understood. Rather than strictly trying to understand the world either through a romantic world view using symbols to describe phenomena or make a detailed physical scientific presentation, in this artwork, we blend the two approaches. We create an animated interactive painting that embraces an archaic interpretation of the nature of reality with a present-day perspective, starting afresh through an intuitive understanding.

The most common opinion is that quantum theory is incomprehensible and illogical. This should now come to an end!

Magdalena Sick-Leitner

A fundamental metaphysical difference thus divides the underlying problematics of Nahua and Cartesian-style Western epistemology. The latter conceives subject and object dualistically and the relationship between subject and object as one mediated by a “veil of perception”. The subject’s access to the object is indirect, being mediated, for example, by appearances or representations of the object. The Nahuas’ epistemological problematic conceives the subject and object monistically and the relationship between subject and object in terms of a mask. And masks in Mesoamerican epistemology have different properties than veils.

Maffie, J. (2003). Contemporary Western Science and Conquest-era Nahua Philosophy. Science and Other Cultures: Issues in Philosophies of Science and Technology, 70.
Mandala as a totem for modern man.
Generative real-time animated mandala as a totem for modern man.

Metaphysical Naturalism & Design Archetypes

  • Epistemological naturalism
  • Natural science
  • Metaphysical naturalism
  • Intuitive notions from the past
  • Everything is natural

Epistemological Naturalism is the view that knowledge is best gained (perhaps: can only be achieved) via science (natural science). Metaphysical naturalism is an ontological claim. Like physicalism, it claims that everything is natural, where a clear definition of “natural” is crucial. Non-naturalists view the naturalist as a physicalist under a different label.

Witmer, D. G. (2012). Naturalism and physicalism. The Continuum Companion to Metaphysics London: Continuum Publishing, 90-120.

This artwork utilizes our current understanding of how Mesoamerican cultures have interpreted nature and existence and designs artwork that reflects a contemporary view of natural phenomena that reflect that collective mythic memory. In Quantum physics, the sun’s effect is a source of energy whose gravitational force warps fields of space around it and that through the quantum effect evident in quantum biology sustains life as a tree absorbs light-waves to grows and absorbs energy through photosynthesis. I use a visual metaphor to describe this effect from a contemporary perspective. In our interactive interlude, as with the Double Slit Experiment, furthers this approach by taking waveforms, expounding on the forms they create when they form crossing and interference patterns.

In the contemporary world, the multi-verse idea is the unique product of ‘post-modern’ thinking based on the Theory of Relativity and Quantum Mechanics. But the ancient Mesoamericans, with their intuitive understanding of the concept of zero as expressed in mathematics, may have got there first. Religion in ancient Mexico took on many different forms. With evidence of human settlement as far back as before the Last Glacial Maximum (26,500–19,000 years ago), proof of human dispersal into the current day Mexico region is evident as early as 33,000–31,000 BP. (Ardelean, 2020)

We assume that humans have always sought the meaning of life. A desire to understanding these matters is at the heart of many ancient religions. “Why am I here, what is this all about, and where do I go after I die.” Mesoamericans also desired to understand these matters and the enveloping cosmos. Theirs was a pantheistic world view with evidence dating as far back as the Olmec and civilization at San Lorenzo (3500 BP) early Maya and Teotihuacan cultures. Also, in the central valley cultures, including the Mexica (Aztec) (900 BP). They maintained these beliefs until the Spanish invasion in the 16th century when a unique Mexican Catholicism was adopted.

Pantheism in the western world first appeared in Spinoza’s Ethics, finished in 1675 two years before his death. (Levine, 2002). Outside of the west, it is one of the world’s oldest forms of spirituality. The Maya developed a highly sophisticated and complex belief system that posited time as an integral part of their understanding. For the Mexica (Aztec), Gods, or better put, expressions of spirit are an ever-dynamic part of everything, interwoven throughout every aspect of life. (The indigenous peoples of Mexico had no word for god or goddess, so we interpret these as archetypal forces.) The priest understands that though the spirit body does not exist separate from the physical body, the human in the middle seeks further understanding of the nature of their world. Through an intuitive understanding of the nature of their world as perceived through mathematics and embedded into their calendar ritual observances, a Mexica (Aztec) or Maya priest would have little difficulty in accepting ‘spooky action at a distance.’

“Consider a Mayan astronomer, Feynman suggested… the Maya had a theory of astronomy that enabled them to explain their observations and to make predictions long into the future. It was a theory in the utilitarian modern spirit: a set of rules, quite mechanical, which when followed produced accurate results. Yet it seemed to lack a kind of understanding. “They counted a certain number and subtracted some numbers, and so on,” he said. “There was no discussion of what the moon was. There was no discussion even of the idea that it went around.”

Argaman, N. (2020). Quantum Computation and Arrows of Time. arXiv preprint arXiv:2001.10517.

Considering the entirety of Maya and Mexica (Aztec) and any other written documentation religious or otherwise was destroyed by the Spaniards during and after the conquest of Mexico perhaps assuming no understanding of complex metaphysical naturalist concepts in documented evidence is shallow. The demonstration of this understanding is evident in their architectural design and philosophical musings constructed from their mythic narrative.

Nahua tlamatinime conceived the dreamlikeness or illusoriness of earthly existence in epistemological — not ontological — terms (pace Leon-Portilla 1963). Illusion was not an ontological category as it was, say, for Plato. In the Republic (Book VI) Plato employed the notion of illusion: to characterize an inferior or lower grade of reality or existence; to distinguish this inferior grade of reality from a superior, higher one (the Forms); and to deny that earthy existence is fully real. This conception of illusion commits one to an ontological dualism that divides the universe into two fundamentally different kinds of existents: illusion and reality.

Maffie, J. (2014). Aztec philosophy: Understanding a world in motion. University Press of Colorado.

Epistemological naturalism & Metaphysical naturalism

  • Perception of the world
    • Human aspects of the world
    • Nature of mentality
    • Moral properties, abstract objects
  • The possibility of knowledge
    • Placement location problems
    • A physical world that is not physical or natural?

Epistemological naturalism & Metaphysical naturalism: both doctrines have significant consequences for our perception of the world, especially human aspects of the world, and the nature of mentality.

There is a substantial philosophical debate running concerning the true nature of the physical world vs. what we perceive to be real. Much of this debate concerns the idea of reality vs. the systematically measured nature of reality. physicalism, or materialism, and naturalism. where western traditions favored physicalism/materialism and its antecedent duality of dream and “a global metaphysical theory of this sort induces “placement location problems”: located in a wholly physical world that seems not to be entirely physical or natural. (Following Frank Jackson in from Metaphysics to Ethics; see Jackson 1998, cited under Central Monographs) Debates about these metaphysical doctrines often focus on the prospects for solving such placement problems, where a failure may justify the elimination of the thing in question or rejection of the global theory. Other debates focus on the proper formulation and understanding of the doctrines (e.g., what is meant by calling an entity physical?), whether and how it might be justified (e.g., what in the development of natural science could justify the claim that everything is natural?), and its implications for science and the proper treatment of placement problems (e.g., does physicalism require all sciences to reduce to physics?).”

Witmer, D. G. (2015). Physicalism and Metaphysical Naturalism. Oxford University Press.

Debates about these metaphysical doctrines often focus on placement problems, where a failure to identify the thing in question may force a rejection of the entire canon. Other debates focus on the proper formulation and understanding of the principles. Whether and how it might be justified its implications for science, and the adequate treatment of placement problems. Does physicalism require all sciences to reduce to physics?


Deterministic Fractal Chaos

Fractal chaos is difficult to predict, but it remains deterministic. What is remarkable about chaos is not that it is random, but that an entirely deterministic system can produce seemingly ‘random’ (i.e. unforeseen) results.

McCauley, J. L. (1994). Chaos, dynamics, and fractals: an algorithmic approach to deterministic chaos (Vol. 2). Cambridge University Press.

Questions around metaphysical doctrines

Illuminate Quantum Mechanics

Develop a visual approach that commonly illuminates Quantum Theory with a 10-minute short abstract animated film & Interactive interlude that Illuminates Quantum Theory

The movie experience

With a collective intuitive design, based on cultural themes we designed an Interactive interlude.

Designed to resemble the depths of a sacred Maya cenote, where light acts as a metaphor for an ever-rippling field of energy

I’ve been researching Maya and Mexica thought and philosophy for several years now, including studying Nahuatl, one of the Mexican indigenous languages. I’ve found opportunities to expand this research by using common themes & ideas in the design created intuitively by our ancestors to illustrate in Quantum Theory. The project starts with the sound of a conch shell horn, then 10-minute plays describing aspects of Quantum Theory with abstract animation. Afterward, I invite the audience to enter the Quantum world. The room transforms into a pool of quantum energy where the front screen and floor transitions into an interactive state. Designed to resemble the depths of a sacred Maya cenote, the audience immersed into rippling the energy fields as part of an immersive narrative. The light acts as a metaphor, a pool of water reflecting my place within ever-rippling waves of energy. In our approach, we use Mesoamerican notable mythic figures.

Robert Gordon Wasson* says that in the statue’s depiction Xochipilli is absorbed by temicxoch, or ‘dream flowers’, as the Nahua say describing the experience that follows the ingestion of an entheogen. They would ingest temicxoch, or ‘dream flowers’, to explore reality the entheogenic experience.

Wasson, R. (1973). THE ROLE OF ‘FLOWERS’ IN NAHUATL CULTURE: A SUGGESTED INTERPRETATION. Botanical Museum Leaflets, Harvard University, 23(8), 305-324. Retrieved August 17, 2020, from

Xochipilli – A Mesoamerican Deity, Xochipilli’s devotees, were devoted to pleasurable activities such as dance, song, music, love, and feasting in the throes of entheogenic ecstasy.

Scrying was a common practice in ancient Mexico. It involved looking into either container filled with water or using a black obsidian mirror,- for its highly polished, water-like reflective surface. It enabled them to see the past, present, and future or to get answers. A scryer, gazing into the mirror, would see clouds of smoke, part of a ceremony, which would reveal a vision, hence the name Smoking Mirror. (Anderson, 2019) It enabled seer to envision the past, present, and future.

With reality conceived within a dreamlike or illusory state of earthly existence or Tlamatinime, a primary creator god, Tezcatlipoca, ruled over the first world or Tonatiuh as ‘He who goes forth shining.’ The first of the four worlds that were created and destroyed before the present universe. Tezcatlipoca often portrayed with a stripe of black paint across his face and an obsidian mirror in place of one of his feet.

Baquedano, E. (Ed.). (2015). Tezcatlipoca: Trickster and supreme deity. University Press of Colorado.

The Mexica (Aztec) used obsidian mirrors for divination and as symbols of their power, often wearing them as pendants. The stone is associated with the Mesoamerican empire, Mexica (Aztec) royalty called it Tezcatlipoca, after the god Tezcatlipoca or ‘Lord of the Smoking Mirror.’ The name alludes to the deity’s connection to the obsidian mirrors is used in for shamanic rituals and prophecy. 

Milbrath, S. (2014). The Maya lord of the smoking Mirror. Tezcatlipoca: Trickster and Supreme Deity, 163-96.

The Smoking Mirror

The Smoking Mirror seen here is black obsidian, a volcanic glass semitransparent mirror that was plundered by Cortes’ people in Mexico in the 1530s. The Mexica used it as a divination instrument. A scryer, gazing into the mirror, would see clouds of smoke which would form shapes that reveal a vision hence the name Smoking Mirror. Moctezuma used this or a similar mirror to foresee the approach of the Spanish. Plundered from Mexico by Cortes and brought to Europe. John Dee (1527 -1608), the English renaissance scholar, astrologer, and adviser to Queen Elizabeth, used it in the 1580s for magical experiments.

Photo by Werner Forman/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

Olivier, G. (2003): Mockeries and Metamorphoses of an Aztec God – Tezcatlipoca, “Lord of the Smoking Mirror”, University Press of Colorado, Boulder, USA

Tudor mystic John Dee

Tudor mathematician and mystic John Dee and apothecary, alchemist, and medium Sir Edward Kelley used the stone mirror in the 16th century as a scrying stone. Dee, a trusted adviser to Queen Elizabeth I and her court, was a mathematician, alchemist, astronomer, mystic, astrologer, geographer, and occultist.

Together, they were avid alchemists that formed a kind of magical duo that explored the mysteries of 16th-century Europe. During the last three decades of his life, Dee was seeking help to solve unexplained natural philosophy.

Laycock, D. C., Kelly, E., & Dee, J. (2001). The complete Enochian dictionary: A dictionary of the Angelic language as revealed to Dr. John Dee and Edward Kelley. Weiser Books.

Sir Edward Kelley

Dee was convinced by Edward Kelley, scryer and occultist, that angels appearing in the mirror would open spiritual realms (Asprem, 2012) and uncover the secrets of the higher level of a law of the universe (DeSalvo, 2010). Through the reflections in the scrying mirror, they viewed a shadow-filled world where they wrote angels delivered information from heaven to them. In their 16th-century writings, Dr. Dee and Edward Kelley claimed that by using Scrying Mirror, they could indeed speak to angels in the Enochian language. John Dee had one of the largest libraries in England at the time.

Their and their peer’s inquiries led to the beginning of chemistry as a science. Careful comparisons between scientific and humanistic sources of information will always reveal a clearer picture.


Two new trace element analyses have taken a fresh look at obsidian mirrors crafted by Inca and Aztec artisans. Obsidian was most often used by peoples around the world to make flaked stone tools such as prismatic blades and arrowheads, yet with special care, the glassy material can also be polished smooth to create remarkable objects. To stare into the depths of a polished obsidian mirror is to step into a world of inky black reflections that seem to never end. This shadowy world has spurred centuries of speculation and occult fascination surrounding pre-Columbian obsidian mirrors. At long last, material scientists are shining some light into that world. (Anderson, 2019)

In Ancient Mexico, Aztec used these stones as mirrors for divination and as symbols of their power, often wearing them as pendants. Tezcatlipoca’s cult was brought into central Mexico by the Toltecs and is associated with the Mexica (Aztec) empire. Aztec royalty called it Tezcatlipoca, a primary force otherwise known as ‘Lord of the Smoking Mirror.’

Olivier, G. (2003). Mockeries and Metamorphoses of an Aztec God: Tezcatlipoca,” Lord of the Smoking Mirror”. University Press of Colorado.

The name alluded to the deity’s connection to obsidian mirrors used in for shamanic rituals and prophecy. Scrying was a common practice in ancient Mexico. It involved looking into a container filled with water or using a black obsidian mirror- for its highly polished, water-like reflective surface. In the cloudy reflections from the obsidian mirror, the vision seeker sees their fate. The smoking mirror, with its extended associations with flames, luminosity, divine breath, and in turn, music and speech, communicate sacred messages to human beings. Just as sound can be reflected-back, and recognized audibly in the form of echo, images are cast-back and seen in the shadowy mirrors.

To reveal fates, Tezcatlipoca had to make his (smoking) mirror shine, and with its magical power, Tezcatlipoca could play tricks, confusing young with old, guilty with innocent, dark with the light. If the Black Tezcatlipoca represents darkness, the night wind, the jaguar, the waning and night sun, it was in his brighter guise, as Tezcatlanextia (The Mirror That Shines), representing the day sun, that the deity could ‘make-appear,’ to reveal, the sins and fates of human beings. Tezcatlipoca had around 130 different names and guises.


The obsidian mirror, referred to as “the talking stone, was believed to communicate sacred messages to humans. Just as sound can be cast back and announced audibly in the form of echo, images could be cast back and reflected visibly in the form of smoke and mirrors. Its bright reflective power and its paradoxical ability to allow its user to gaze into ‘other’ worlds, endowed the obsidian mirror with strong metaphysical associations.” Through a sun-filled gaze, an entrance into another realm is opened, and the surface of still water is seen.

Tezcatlipoca, The smoking Mirror

A drawing of the Black Tezcatlipoca, one of the deities described in the Codex Borgia Bearing all twenty calendar signs, and with a smoking mirror in place of one foot; painting.

Author, Pre-Columbian: Tezcatlipoca one of the deities described in the Codex Borgia.

Mexican Vision Seekers & The Entheogenic Connection

Xochipilli – Mesoamerican deity 

“It is generally assumed that the idea of other universes is the unique product of “post-modern” thinking based on the Theory of Relativity and Quantum Mechanics. But the ancient Aztecs and Maya probably got there first, albeit for different reasons.”(Barnett, 2008) Xochipilli is the patron of art, games, dance, flowers, and songs in Aztec mythology. His name contains the Nahuatl words Xochitl (“flower”) and Pilli (either “prince” or “child”) and hence means “flower prince.” (Eberl, 2013) Plants and flowers were associated with mystical experiences. The classic Mexica sculpture of Xochipilli shows him in the throes of entheogenic ecstasy. America author, ethnomycologist, and former Vice President of J.P. Morgan & Co., Robert Gordon Wasson says that in the statue’s depiction, 

Xochipilli absorbed in temicxoch. The Mexica (Aztec) Patron of Flowers, Dance, Song, Love – statue from Art. Museo Nacional de Antropologia, Mexico City.

Xochipilli is absorbed by temicxoch, ‘dream flowers,’ as the Nahua says, describing the experience that follows the ingestion of an entheogen. I can think of nothing like it in the long and rich history of European art: Xochipilli absorbed in temicxoch.

Wasson, R. G. (1980). The wondrous mushroom: mycolatry in Mesoamerica (No. 7). New York: McGraw-Hill.

K’awiil – Vision Serpent

The Vision Serpent is one of the essential Mesoamerican deities. Also known as Och -Kan and associated with Maya Diety K’awiil, a Pre-Colombian god-force connected to royalty, lightning, serpents, fertility, and maze. The Vision Serpent had the role of intermediary between the world of the living and the deities. 

With the Vision Serpent, bloodletting involved invoking ancestral spirits for guidance, protection, and blessings. Part of this invocation resulted in visual hallucinations. During the vision serpent ritual, participants in the ruling class would cut their body, resulting in severe pain and blood loss, stimulating the production of endorphins, the body’s natural pain reliever.

Coe, M. D. (2005). The maya. Thames & Hudson.

Essentially the World Tree and the Vision Serpent, representing the king, created the center axis which communicates between the spiritual and the earthly worlds or planes. It is through a ritual that the king could bring the center axis into existence in the temples and create a doorway to the spiritual world and with its power.

Freidel, D. A., Schele, L., & Parker, J. (1993). Maya Cosmos Three Thousand Years on the Shaman’s Path.

The Mayan civilization was based on ‘chronovision,’ the total absorption of the individual and collective life in the rhythms of nature, mapped into a mathematical system that had several cyclical counts running simultaneously.

Fraser, J. T. (1987). Time: The familiar stranger. Massachusetts Univ..


The Vision Serpent ritual

From the mouth of the vision-serpent appears a wise ancestor.

Yaxchilan lintel 15 Maya, Late Classic period (AD 600-900) From Yaxchilán, Mexico British Museum – London

The Vision Serpent

During a bloodletting rite, where generally speaking only the most elite of the ruling class would participate, the vision serpent appears. The participant would induce pain through a piercing wound, and then the blood would bleed out onto a small piece of Amate paper. Then the paper sample is burnt in a shallow bowl, at which point the vision would manifest in the smoke, as illustrated in Yaxchilan lintel 15 above. The paper is also shared with commoners enabling them to also commune with the royal ancestors.

In the vision, the smoke would form into a snake with two heads, one for the underworld and one for the earth.  An ancestor could travel through the snake from the land of the dead to the land of the living. 

Who is Quetzalcoatl? by Anonymousfor JoshuaMessiah.

Due to the trauma-induced during the Vision Serpent ritual, a release of chemicals would induce a hallucinogenic or trans-like-state similar to the chemical effect of opiates. But here, endorphins naturally occurred to reduce the brain’s response to pain. In this trans-like state, participants would burn the blood-soaked ceremonial papers. The resulting smoke was a medium for the Vision Serpent to appear. In Maya cosmology, an aspect of the vision serpent has been believed to be a conduit to the obode of the ancestors. In conducting this ritual, the participant induces a hallucinogenic epiphany that is manifest in the forms randomly shaped in the burning smoke.

The spirits of the ancestors would emerge in the column of smoke and from the snake’s mouth. Every major political or religious event involved bloodletting because it provided a medium by which the primary forces could be called upon to witness and participate in the ceremony. 

Coe, M. D., & Van Stone, M. (2016). Reading the Maya glyphs. Thames & Hudson.

K’awiil, the vision serpent ” appears on many Maya ceramic vessels in various ways and often taking the role of a vision and the medium.

For instance, he may be depicted as a full figure on the tail of a snake, known as the och chan. Manifesting as a head wrapped in smoke scrolls, often in a pair, as a dancer or as an icon. Either on the tail of a conjuring serpent or a way beast.

Notes and Commentary – FAMSI.
Snake Loop Lady and the Old Lecher
Painted more than 1000 years ago, this image shows a noble undergoing vision (Kerr, 1998 ). Vision Serpent Och Chan conjures an ancestral patron for Maya royalty. The scene consists of a topless woman sitting in the loop of a huge serpent, which grows from the foot of K’awiil (here on the left). The snake’s jaws are wide open, with the ancestral spirit vision emerging.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository

Vision Serpent, Tree of Life, Axis Mundi 

Maya mythology describes serpents as being the vehicles by which celestial bodies, such as the sun and stars, cross the heavens. The shedding of their skin made them a symbol of rebirth and renewal. They were so revered that one of the main Mesoamerican deities, Quetzalcoatl, was represented as a feathered serpent. The name means “beautiful serpent” (from Nahuatl, “quetzalli” means beautiful and “coatl” meaning snake or serpent.)

Coe, M. D. (2012). Breaking the Maya code. Thames & Hudson.

Maya creation myths and cosmology connect to the Axis Mundi or the cosmic axis or center of the world, with four cardinal directions, the Above/Celestial Realm, the Center/Self and Earth/Worldly Plane, and the Unseen/Underworld, represented with the symbol of Tree of Life or central world tree. In the Mesoamerican context, the Tree of Life was symbolically placed in the center of the world, becoming Axis Mundi, connecting the underworld and sky realms with the earth realm. It embodied the four cardinal directions. (Carrasco, 2014)

This notion further enforced when observing Mesoamerican sites and ceremonial centers, which frequently had actual trees planted at each of the four cardinal directions,

That the snake lies at the center of the world, in the center axis atop the World Tree, essentially the World Tree and the Vision Serpent, representing the ‘vision seeker,’ created the center axis which communicates between the spiritual and the earthly worlds. It is through a ritual that the ‘vision seeker’ could bring the center axis into existence in the temples and create a doorway to the spiritual world and with its power.

Schele, L. (1990). A forest of kings: The untold story of the ancient Maya. William Morrow & Company.

Ars Electronica 2019, Deep Space 8K

Quantum Logos (vision serpent) Tree Sequence

“The “Many Worlds Interpretation” of quantum mechanics is an attempt to explain the bizarre behavior of particles at the sub-atomic level. Also referred to as the Multiverse or Multiple Universes, some physicists find this idea credible.

For some, like Stephen Hawkings, this is simply a way of talking about the unpredictable outcome of a quantum measurement. If the human observer can see only one operation while others are known to be going on, then the latter is said to be taking place in another universe.

Mesoamerican religion and multiverses: Part Two: Mexico ….

According to the Mexica (Aztec), we are living in the era of the Fifth Sun. The same sun shines down upon the Mexica (Aztec) in the 16th century when the Spaniards arrived. Modern physicists, on the other hand, imagine an infinity of universes all existing at the same time. In Mesoamerican cosmology, there were thirteen heavens above the Earth, each with its deity, and nine levels below the Earth.


According to the multi-universe interpretations and contradictions that arise out of the observations of the ‘spooky action at a distance’ and ‘double-slit experiment’ of quantum mechanics, somewhere out there exists a universe where anything is possible, provided that it is logically viable within that particular universe. There might be any number of duplicates of Mark Chavez and you in other universes in whatever situation or condition imagined. Contemporary society enjoys the benefit of centuries of science and technology. Though the ancient Mexica (Aztec) and Maya lack our technical means, perhaps they pondered similar ideas through math-based speculation alone.

Sun Sequence

The Sun Sequence is designed to evoke feelings morning, afternoon and setting sun.

Borderlines of Creative Vision and Hallucination

The propensity to see connections between seemingly unrelated objects or ideas most closely links psychosis to creativity. Rather, the assumption of “meaningfulness” in randomness always involves a subjective interpretation of spatial or temporal configurations. The creative arts acknowledge and take advantage of this purely subjective aspect of perceiving. They have always been inspired by chance and randomness to create works of art whose meaningfulness is, however, left to the interpretation of its viewers.

Brugger, P. (2001). From haunted brain to haunted science: A cognitive neuroscience view of paranormal and pseudoscientific thought. Hauntings and poltergeists: Multidisciplinary perspectives, ed. J. Houran & R. Lange, 195-213.

Mesoamerican people believed the visions appearing in a Smoking Mirror or polished surface of a translucent Obsidian mirror spoke a truth to them. Motecuhzoma Xocoyotzin (Montezuma) was said to see the arrival of the Spanish from the smoking mirror in his personal residence. Imagine the Mexica (Aztec) gazing into the Smoking Mirror view to converse with the spirit world, to see the future, and foretell events untold on the glassy surface of the Smoking Mirror. Similarly, these experiences are retractable from delusion or fantasy even today in a rational examination of Apophenia and Pareidolia. When you think you see images of animals, faces, or ghostly objects – in cloud formations, gravel surfaces, wall texture, floor patterns. Or you hear indistinct voices in random noise such as that produced by air conditioners or fans. These are part of what our imagination induces naturally.


Apophenia, derived from the German Apophänie, a term coined by the
neurologist Klaus Conrad [1958] to define the exaggerated tendency of
schizophrenics to see imaginary connections of meaning. More recently the term has been used to define “the pervasive tendency of human beings to see order in random configurations” or “the experience of seeing meaningful patterns or connections in random data”

Meschiari, M. (2009). Roots of the savage mind. Apophenia and imagination as cognitive process. Quaderni di semantica30, 183-222.

Imagine that you see images of animals, faces, or objects in cloud formations, gravel surfaces, bats emerging from wall textures, or floor patterns, ghosts, aliens sneaking about in the darkness. That you hear strange voices talking to you telling you their secrets from random noise. Described as the early stages of delusional thought and as self-referential, over-interpretations of actual sensory perceptions, as opposed to hallucinations. It is universally human tendency to seek and understand patterns of data, sometimes we see it however in random meaningless information. Here is where the disconnect can happen from accepted reality to imagined reality.


The tendency to perceive a specific, often meaningful image in a random or ambiguous visual pattern

Guliciuc, V. (2018). Pareidolic and Uncomplex Technological Singularity. Information9(12), 309.

The German term, Apophänie, was coined by psychiatrist Klaus Conrad in his 1958 publication on the beginning stages of schizophrenia. Apophänie is an “unmotivated seeing of connections [accompanied by] a specific feeling of abnormal meaningfulness.” It is described as the early stages of delusional thought as self-referential, over-interpretations of actual sensory perceptions, as opposed to hallucinations. Apophenia has come to imply a universal human tendency to seek patterns in random information.

The term “Pareidolia”, is a related psychological phenomenon in which the mind responds to a stimulus, usually an image or a sound, by perceiving a familiar pattern where none exists (e.g., in random data). When you imagine that you see images of animals, faces, or ghostly objects, – in cloud formations, gravel surfaces, wall texture, floor patterns. Hidden messages within recorded music played in reverse or at higher- or lower-than-normal speeds. Hearing indistinct voices in random noise such as that produced by air conditioners or fans. 

Examples of images that are evocative of the Pareidolia effect

Artists intentionally evoke the essence of things they depict without being representational. To stimulate a creative style of expression, Leonardo da Vinci recommended to his apprentices to,

…look at walls covered with many stains or made of stones of different colors, with the idea of imagining some scene.

Gamboni, D. (2002). Potential images: Ambiguity and indeterminacy in modern art. Reaktion Books.

Like abstract expressionism developed in the 1940s reveals personal feelings directly through intuitive, artistic creation. Our artworks suggest things that give the audience an experience rooted at the cultural, emotional level rather than through a pedantic, direct, and readable narrative.  

Artists use this propensity when creating their works to suggest ideas and concepts pertinent to their interests. Picasso created experiments in cubism to determine the dynamic results of shape and form; in the images below, Picasso uses lines to suggest the essence of a bull.

Picasso worked like a technologist. (Miller, 2001). Just like a Heisenberg, one of the pioneers in quantum mechanics was experimenting in physics to express intangible and invisible. Picasso used experimental cubist methodologies to visually present objects as we experience them in space and time. Rather than just mimicking reality, the cubism style was taking on the challenge of the way we encounter reality. In an intensive experimental work period, he extracted the essence of a bull.

The Emote Project

Gauging the Affect of Imagery

This project experiments with abstract animation, using a base library of nonrepresentational abstract and semi-abstract forms that suggest different meanings. In pursuit of a definition for “meaning” in imagery, this project experiments with emotions that abstract images evoke, The Emote Project (2017). It comprises 20 short films using directive presets, audio cued, and timer based settings. Derivative TouchDesigner, Open GL shaders (GLSL), audio-reactive animation. (Chavez, 2017) 

In earlier research, The Emote Project investigates the impact of emotion in an abstract image. We ran an online study with sociologists at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, and observed test subjects in the lab (theater). In our experimentation on the Emote Project, we tracked brain waves to determine the affect of images and music. Our question was, can we measure the emotional impact of abstract animation on the viewer. We displayed the results as an artwork at Media Art Nexus, a 15×2 meter video screen at Nanyang Technological University Singapore.

The circumplex model of affect

There is evidence that emotions and emotions intensities or their” affective dimensions” are interrelating and effecting one other The circumplex model of affect postulates that all of the emotions are within the structure of the spatial model of a circle.  (Russell, 1980). The basic idea is that we can tag and contrast imagery to named emotions: Sad/Gloomy, Happy/Pleased.. etc.  

The circumplex model of affect:

An integrative approach to affectation used in neuroscience, cognitive development, and psychopathology

All affective states arise from cognitive interpretations of core neural sensations

Russell, J. A. (1980). A circumplex model of affect. Journal of personality and social psychology39(6), 1161.

The circumplex model of affect: Basic idea was that we could tag and contrast imagery to named emotions: Sad/Gloomy, Happy/Pleased An integrative approach to affective neuroscience, cognitive development, and psychopathology The Circumplex Model of Affect proposes that all affective states arise from cognitive interpretations of core neural sensations that are the product of two independent neurophysiological systems.

In the Emote Project, we can measure brain waves to determine the emotional impact of abstract animation and music on the viewer. In doing so, how does this content influence the general public in a passageway on campus? We displayed the results as an artwork at Media Art Nexus, a 15 x 2-meter video screen at Nanyang Technological University Singapore.

Quantum LOGOS (vision serpent)

Many physicists believe that entanglement is the essence of quantum weirdness — and some now suspect that it may also be the essence of space-time. “Entanglement is the essential ingredient that knits space-time together into a smooth whole.”

Mark Van Raamsdonk

Quantum Physics and the Double Slit Experiment

Quantum physics is difficult to understand now, as it was for Einstein and scientists of his day. Since the early 20th century, artists have been creating artwork that explores questions posed by quantum physics. Art helps us in understand the counterintuitive concepts of space, time, and the dissonance of the physical world. The two-slit experiment is critical to understand the microscopic world (Schombert, 2020). The famous Double Slit Experiment demonstrates the wave-like properties of light.  

Famed physicist Richard Feynman (1918-1988) summed up the basic idea in quantum mechanics by referring to the Double Slit Experiment in which elementary particles, such as electrons, protons, neutrons, atoms, and molecules (material objects), behave like waves (non-material elements), provided they are not observed. But as soon as you try to observe what is going on, the waves collapse into particles. It seems that either the particles “know” they are being watched, or the observer in some sense creates “reality” simply by the act of observing, or perhaps both.

Feynman, R. (2018). Feynman lectures on gravitation. CRC Press.

The Uncertainty Principle of Quantum Mechanics suggests that the material world somehow arises out of the immaterial world. As wave patterns build up, they become informational Matter. When you are not observing the phenomena, the wave pattern collapses. Therefore, as with the Double Slit Experiment, the beam of light projected through two slits is both a wave and particle; there is no way to observe both the particle and wave buildup at the same time. Nor can you tell the location or the velocity of the particle at the same time.

…the uncertainty principle (for position and momentum) states that one cannot assign exact simultaneous values to the position and momentum of a physical system. Rather, these quantities can only be determined with some characteristic “uncertainties” that cannot become arbitrarily small simultaneously. 

Hilgevoord, Jan and Jos Uffink, “The Uncertainty Principle”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2016 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.).

Young’s Double-slit experiment and particle/wave duality
Orion, I., & Laitman, M. (2010). The double-slit experiment and particle-wave duality: Toward a novel quantum interpretation. Journal of Modern Physics1(1), 90-92.

  • This image above shows how double slits produce two coherent sources of waves that interfere.
  • The light diffracts through narrow slits
  • The waves overlap and interfere with each other
  • Only visible if the light falls onto a screen
  • Both light and matter display wave and particle characteristics depending on what interaction they are undergoing

The slide above details how in The Double Slit Experiment, two coherent sources of waves produce interference that creates a pattern. Light spreads out (diffracts) from each slit because the slits are narrow. These waves overlap and interfere constructively (bright red lines) and destructively (dark black regions). We can only see this if the light is projected onto a screen and is the light scatters into our eyes. The Double Slit Experiment forms interference patterns for water waves that are nearly identical to that for light. Wave action is most significant in regions of constructive interference and least in areas of destructive interference. The Double-Slit Experiment demonstrates that the presence of a human being can fundamentally change the behavior of matter at a particle level.

Double slits produce two coherent sources of waves that interfere. (a) Light spreads out (diffracts) from each slit because the slits are narrow. These waves overlap and interfere constructively (bright lines) and destructively (dark regions). We can only see this if the light falls onto a screen and scatters into our eyes. (b) Double Slit interference pattern for water waves is nearly identical to that for light. Wave action is most significant in regions of constructive interference and least in areas of destructive interference. (c) When the light is projected through two slits and then onto a screen, we see this pattern.

3.2: Young’s Double-Slit Interference – Physics LibreTexts.’s_Double-Slit_Interference

The Copenhagen interpretation states that quantum systems don’t possess specific properties before measurement, only probabilities that reduce to certainties on analysis.

Quantum physics is as difficult to understand now as it was for Einstein and scientists of his day. Since the early 20th century, artists have been creating pieces that explore questions posed by quantum physics, intersecting their design with designs pertinent to contemporary society. These efforts help us understand the counter-intuitive concepts of space, time, and the dissonance of the design in the physical world.

Interference is a  phenomenon in which two waves superimpose to form a resultant wave of higher or lower amplitude. Interference usually refers to the interaction of waves that are correlated or coherent with each other, either because they come from the same source or because they have the same or nearly the same frequency. If a crest of one wave meets a trough of another wave, then the magnitude of the displacements is equal to the difference in the individual magnitudes – this is known as destructive interference. Constructive interference occurs when the phase difference between the waves is a multiple of 2π, whereas destructive interference occurs when the difference is an odd multiple of π. If we let light pass through two slits simultaneously, a beautiful dark and light band, called interference fringes, can be observed. (Science)

Interference of The Double-Slit Experiment is a demonstration that matter and energy can display characteristics of both waves and particles and demonstrates the fundamentally probabilistic nature of quantum mechanical phenomena (Image by Mark Chavez)

Challenges How can we convey difficult scientific concepts to a contemporary audience? Specifically, focusing on my ethnic background and people living in the southwestern United States and Mexico. We wish to examine some of these and describe how we produced the solutions used in the artwork. Many philosophical questions arise in the context of our approach. We take special care to not align with pseudo-science.

Design Approach

  • Intuitive design created by early civilizations
  • Particle/wave phenomena
  • Spiral nature of the organic form
  • Galactic phenomena

Rather than representing the quantum world with graph-based visualization, we decided to leverage design construction explored by early civilizations denoting things in nature that they found wonderous. We looked at the spiral nature of organic form and other phenomena, ideas imagined and described by our forebearers to find solutions that suggest observations that our sophisticated instruments now allow us to see. As with the Double Slit Experiment, when we take various waveforms, with graphic systems induce them to interfere with each other, interesting patterns emerge. Might we be able to take these forms to describe quantum theory?

We looked at other visualization of nature made by early cultures and found many that shared common design traits with graphically represented math in contemporary quantum physics. When reading about the ideas represented by these cultures and how many of them search for a fundamental understanding of existence, I decided that this was a path for discovery that we could take.

Visualizing Theoretical Physics

Much closer to us than all sensations are the things themselves. We hear the door shut in the house and never hear acoustical sensations or even mere sounds.

Heidegger, M., & Krell, D. F. (1993). From” Being and Time”(1927) to” The Task of Thinking”(1964). Routledge.

The ghostly quantum phenomenon of entanglement maybe what knits space-time into a smooth whole.

Cowen, R. (2015). Space, time, entanglement. Nature527(7578), 290-293.

Visualization, as a manipulation of data that renders it visible, serves as a crucial vehicle for informally assessing the simulation and the effect of changes.

Spencer, M. (2012). Image and Practice: Visualization in Computational Fluid Dynamics Research. Interdisciplinary Science Reviews37(1), 86-100.

The entanglement connection. As a starting point, we need to visualize what general relativity tells us about the universe (containing gravity) and visually describe the abstract theories of quantum mechanics (where entanglement occurs). To do this, we needed to show the similarities between two diagrams: a hyperbolic tessellation diagram (showing how space distorts as it stretches out towards its infinite boundary) and a tensor network, which visualizes the quantum entanglement connections between particles in a complex system.

Spacetime Structure: Analogy in Condensed Matter and Quantum Information

Tensor Networks

The tensor network diagram to represent the quantum entanglement connecting two points in space.   


  • Describes E8, as an eight-dimensional mathematical pattern with 248 points
  • First found in 1887.
  • E8 contains the Standard Model (physics)
  • Symmetries belonging to gravity
  • The patterns visualized resemble mandalas.

Entanglement – Disentanglement

The bulk – boundary correspondence implies that space on the inside results from quantum entanglement outside. In an infinite model universe known as the anti-de Sitter space, the effects of gravity at any point x in the interior are mathematically equivalent to a quantum field theory on its boundary. This universe, visualized in 2D by filling it with imaginary triangles. Although the triangles are identical, they appear increasingly distorted as they approach the edge. Physicists note that this pattern resembles diagrams called tensor networks, show connections between quantum particles on a massive scale. These connections are known as quantum entanglement. 

The overlay of the hyperbolic tessellation diagram (showing how space distorts as it stretches out towards its infinite boundary) and the tensor network diagram visualizes the quantum entanglement connections between vast numbers subatomic particles in an extensive system, to emphasize the link between the two.

Disentanglement – Empty Space

The bulky- boundary correspondence implies that space on the inside is built from quantum entanglement around the outside. Even when the bulk universe is empty, the quantum fields in any regions of the boundary (A and B) are heavily entangled with one another.  

The tensor network diagram to represent the quantum entanglement connecting points in space. If the entanglement between these regions is reduced the bulk universe starts pulling apart. Otherwise, the space is empty.  


The Einstein–Podolsky–Rosen paradox (EPR paradox) is a thought experiment proposed by physicists Albert Einstein, Boris Podolsky, and Nathan Rosen (EPR), with which they argued that the description of physical reality provided by quantum mechanics was incomplete.

Einstein, P., & Podolsky, B. (1935). Rosen: 1935. Physical Review47, 777.

In 1935, Einstein and Rosen (ER) showed that widely separated black holes can be connected by a tunnel through space-time now often known as a wormhole. EPR, by Einstein, Rosen, and American physicist Boris Podolsky, was the first paper to clearly articulate what is now called entanglement.


When the entanglement is reduced to zero, the bulk universe splits in two – showing that entanglement is necessary for space to exist. 

Physicists now suspect that the Connection in a wormhole and the Connection in quantum entanglement are the same things, just on a vastly different scale. Aside from thor size, there is no fundamental difference.


Connections through space-time that link black holes, and quantum entanglement. A standard diagram of a wormhole adjacent to an earlier depiction of quantum entanglement is shown.

‘wave–particle duality is the duality of probability waves and particle detections

Falkenburg, B. (2010). Wave–Particle Duality in Quantum Optics. In EPSA philosophical issues in the sciences (pp. 31-42). Springer, Dordrecht.

An atomic orbital is the quantum mechanical refinement of Bohr’s orbit. In contrast to his concept of a simple circular orbit with a fixed radius, orbitals are mathematically derived regions of space with different probabilities of containing an electron.

Brown, T. L. (2009). Chemistry: the central science. Pearson Education.

In the Quantum world, subatomic particle-points like to behave as clouds of possibilities (waves) rather than points, a feature of “wave-particle duality.” Where atoms and electrons behave like waves and particles simultaneously, electrons orbiting around a nucleus cannot be adequately described as particles but need to be explained by the wave-particle duality.

Orchin, M. (2005). The vocabulary and concepts of organic chemistry. John Wiley & Sons, Inc..

The Observer Effect.

Electrons exist as standing waves and are never at a single point or location. They spread out in space in a continuous distribution. At the same time, electrons have particle-like properties and can exist in superposition jumping between orbitals. They are only a particle or a wave when examined as such. This phenomenon is known as the observer effect.

Orchin, M. (2005). The vocabulary and concepts of organic chemistry. John Wiley & Sons, Inc..

The fascinating shape of hydrogen, the position of portability distributions are associated with various orbitals of atomic hydrogen. The s orbitals, though spherically symmetrical, have radially placed wave-nodes – appearing as a transparent, almost cloud-like transitions, indicating vibrational states of electrons’ and their possible oscillating realities and quantum states.

Is fine-grained reality just like that? A bunch of clouds of possibilities where things can be many things? Physicists at the University of Queensland in Australia are offering new evidence in support of quantum physics’ most understated yet fully unreal reality: the fundamental indeterminateness of the quantum wave function. This mythical math seems to imply the possibility of overlapping realities and superimposed truths.

Proietti, M., Pickston, A., Graffitti, F., Barrow, P., Kundys, D., Branciard, C., … & Fedrizzi, A. (2019). Experimental test of local observer independence. Science advances5(9), eaaw9832.

Space-Time Structure: Analogy in Condensed Matter and Quantum Information

While researching the issues related to visualizing quantum phenomena, we found an interesting area of mathematics called Lie algebra which describes E8, the most complex shape in our universe, -an eight-dimensional mathematical pattern with 248 points first found in 1887. Mathematicians claim that E8 contains the Standard Model (of physics), plus the symmetries belonging to gravity.  

The E8 Theory, also known as “An Exceptionally Simple Theory of Everything,” tries to explain the greatest mystery in physics how particle physics and gravity can be combined in one model.  It describes an interrelated 248 – dimensional symmetric object. Studying the partially assembled puzzle of the Standard Model and gravity, we see that the charges of all particles fit in the pattern of what is arguably the most intricate structure known to mathematics, the exceptional Lie group E8. The mathematical structure has geometrically symmetric properties that could bring about a uniform theory in physics.

Lisi, A. G. (2007). An exceptionally simple theory of everything. arXiv preprint arXiv:0711.0770.

For the artistic eye, what is notable about the patterns visualized in this area of mathematics is the graphical nature of the visualization and how they resemble mandalas. We looked at other visualization of nature made by early cultures and found many that shared common design traits with graphically represented math in contemporary quantum physics. E8 in mathematics suggests a crystalline form that forms an 8-dimensional crystal. Quantum theorists suggest that this is the basic structural form of the universe. Some of the math involved also uses the Golden Ratio as a basis for all perceived states. (Olsen, 2020)

Quantum Logos and Ancient Symbols

Rather than merely stylistically representing the quantum world, we decided to leverage design construction used in the past to describe similar things. Likewise, as with the Double Slit Experiment, when we take waveforms and force them to interfere with each other exciting patterns emerge. I also looked at the spiral nature of galaxies, similar phenomena surrounding black holes, and ideas graphically described by early societies that take a similar form. Might we be able to take these forms and visually detail quantum physics?

We looked at other visualization of nature made by early cultures and found many that shared common design traits with graphically represented math in contemporary quantum physics. When reading about the ideas represented by these cultures and how many of them search for a fundamental understanding of existence, we have decided that this was a path for discovery that we could take.  

From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository.

The Triple Spiral symbol, based on motifs found at the prehistoric site at Newgrange, Ireland, and used as a neo-pagan or Triple Goddess symbol. This version is made up of mathematical Archimedean spirals. (AnonMoos)

Petroglyph showing a spiral at Sedona, Native American Rock Art (CC0., 2017)

The spiral patterns that appear prominently in the rock carvings are thought to be a symbol among ancestral Pueblo peoples for the sky or the sun.

The Triple Spiral symbol, based on motifs found at the prehistoric site at Newgrange, Ireland, and used as a neo-pagan or Triple Goddess symbol. This version is made up of mathematical Archimedean spirals. (AnonMoos) From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository.

Newgrange: entrance stone with megalithic art.

Petroglyph showing a spiral at Sedona, Native American Rock Art (CC0., 2017)

We began to realize that to describe the quantum world visually in an original way we could use imagery created by early cultures in our artworks to describe the quantum world.  We used the Greek word Logos to title our work. As stated the term Logos, used for more than 2000 years, means, reasoned discourse, the divine reason implicit in the cosmos, ordering it and giving it form and meaning.  

A mandala (emphasis on the first syllable; Sanskrit मण्डल, maṇḍala-literally “circle”) is a geometric configuration of symbols. In various spiritual traditions, mandalas focus the attention of practitioners and adepts, as a spiritual guidance tool.

Manjuvajra Mandala

Manjuvajra Mandala with 43 deities, from Tibet. Tempera on cotton. Measures 71 by 85 centimeters (28 in × 33 in). Held at the Museo d’Arte Orientale.

From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository (author, 1400 and 1500) 

For the artistic eye, what is notable about the patterns visualized in this area of mathematics is how they resemble mandalas. Perhaps the quantum world might be explored visually using the imagery created by early cultures?

Sacred Geometry


The complexity is shown as a geocentric model, with representations of the apparent motion of the Sun, Mercury, and Venus from the Earth. Taken from the “Astronomy” article in the first edition of Encyclopædia Britannica (1771). This geocentric diagram shows, from the location of the Earth, the sun’s apparent annual orbit, the orbit of Mercury for seven years, and the orbit of Venus for eight years, after which Venus returns to almost the same position concerning the Earth and sun.

Bottom row, top down view of Z-DNA

Chobotov, V. A. (2002). Orbital mechanics. American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Graphically represented geocentric system of planetary paths known as Epicycle, complexity described these models as part of the graphic approach. Ptolemaic system of planetary paths, from James Ferguson, Astronomy Explained upon Sir Isaac Newton’s Principles, 1756, a geocentric system of planetary paths known as Epicycle. Natural complexity as graphic elements.

The Platonic solids are prominent in the philosophy of Plato, their namesake. Plato wrote about them in the dialogue Timaeus c.360 B.C. in which he associated each of the four classical elements (Earth, Air, Water, and Fire) with a regular solid. Earth is associated with the cube; Air with the octahedron; Water with the icosahedron; and Fire with the tetrahedron. (

Platonic solids

Drawings by Johannes Kepler

Page from Harmonices Mundi by Johannes Kepler (Kepler, 1619) 

Johannes Kepler, 16th Century, German Astronomer, attempted to relate the five extraterrestrial planets known at that time to the five Platonic solids. In Mysterium Cosmographicum, published in 1596, Kepler proposed a model of the Solar System. He encased Platonic Solids within a sphere, and then nested them all inside of each other, they produce six layers that correspond to the relative planetary orbits of Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. The innermost sphere being the octahedron, followed by the icosahedron, dodecahedron, tetrahedron, and finally the cub (Haramein, 2020)

megalithic platonic solids

Five carved stone spheres

Five carved stone spheres (3000 BC, megalithic platonic solids) from Scotland held at the Ashmolean Museum
[Credit: Ashmolean Museum]

Starting around 1900, physicists began to realize that symmetries in the universe are as fundamental to reality as things like elementary particles and forces. (Gross, 1996)

Platonic Solid

Kepler’s Platonic Solid

In the tetrahedron, hexahedron, octahedron, dodecahedron, and, icosahedron, the vertices of the graph (represented by the 3D) object are the same as the vertices of the solid. The edges of the graph are the same as the edges of the solid.

Planet orbital frequencies’

The mandala forms they approximate produce the six known layers (during his time) that correspond to the relative planetary orbits of Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.

True orbital paths of objects in our solar system don’t line up with these approximations. However, from an earth orbital perspective, they do approximate interesting mandala-like shapes.

Crystals of a DNA repair protein

Life in its basic form can be understood as quantum mechanics.

In 1944, Professor Schrödinger addressed the biological question: what is the basis of heredity? Heredity describes the extremely accurate transfer of information from one living system to another – for example, the way we inherit genes from our parents.

Simpson D. (2018) Quantum 2.0: At the beating heart of biology, University of Melbourne

He argued that heredity was too perfect – the accuracy with which information is copied and transferred in living systems is too high, with an error of roughly one in a hundred thousand.

He rightly pointed out that, based on the laws of statistical mechanics, this would require the involvement of billions of molecules. At the time, geneticists knew that genes were small, too small to contain this many molecules.


He went on to propose that quantum mechanics ultimately controls genetic heredity and life and that genes act like a solid or ‘aperiodic crystal,’ which encodes information. 

He claimed that this structure flowed from the fact that the hereditary molecule must contain a “code-script” that determined “the entire pattern of the individual’s future development and its functioning in the mature state.”

What is life? The physicist who sparked a revolution in ….

Schrödinger was the first person in the 20th century to explicitly suggest that genes contained what he called a “code-script” that determined “the entire pattern of the individual’s future development and of its functioning in the mature state.”

Almost a decade later, and inspired by Professor Schrödinger’s vision, James Watson, Francis Crick, and Maurice Wilkins were awarded the Nobel prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discovery of the ordered (aperiodic) structure of DNA, a double helix model as a carrier of the genetic material and molecular “code – script.”

Quantum 2.0: At the beating heart of biology | Pursuit by ….

The rules of quantum mechanics dictate how molecules interact and bind to form larger molecules, which ultimately gives rise to life. Thanks to the technological advances of the past few decades, we are now starting to see evidence of quantum mechanical effects in living systems.


The strange phenomena of superposition, tunneling, and entanglement are part of the dynamics in the behavior of particles. These dynamics take place in photosynthesis, energy transfer in biochemical enzyme reactions, the magnetic sense of direction in birds, and even our sense of smell. These observations have led to the emergence of a relatively new scientific field, Quantum Biology.

Quantum Biology has already impacted our quality of life, from improved clinical outcomes to new treatment approaches. This technology revolution is applying quantum systems and quantum mechanics to building more efficient and sensitive detection devices, communication, and sensing technology for a variety of applications. Such as exciting new imaging methods that go beyond the physical limitation of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and cellular level imaging to an understanding of how biological systems function at the molecular scale.

Tree sequence

Branches of a tree as a metaphor for life and growth

In photosynthesis, a photon hits a receptor called a chromophore, which in turn produces an exciton — a quantum particle of energy. This exciton jumps from one chromophore to another until it reaches a reaction center, where that energy is harnessed to build the molecules that support life. 

What happens when quantum physics meets genetic …. (2015)

Nature has had billions of years to perfect life on Earth. In that time, the process has achieved almost 100 percent efficiency in transporting the energy of sunlight from receptors to reaction centers where it can be harnessed — a performance vastly better than even the best solar cells.


Quantum Biology can explain the importance of photosynthesis in plants and how energy in plants is behaving as a quantum-wave seeking all possible routes at once.

One way plants achieve this efficiency is by making use of the exotic effects of quantum mechanics — effects sometimes known as “quantum weirdness.” The results, which include the ability of a particle to exist in more than one place at a time, have now been used by engineers at MIT to achieve a significant efficiency boost in a light-harvesting system.


Researchers have copied these observations and applied it to a new approach in manufacturing solar energy cells not with high-tech materials or microchips — but by using genetically engineered viruses to more efficiently transport energy in cells.

The European Robin

According to quantum biology, the European robin has a ‘sixth sense’ in the form of a protein in its eye sensitive to the orientation of the Earth’s magnetic field, allowing it to ‘see’ which way to migrate.

Photograph: Helmut Heintges/ Helmut Heintges/Corbis Photograph: Helmut Heintges/ Helmut Heintges/Corbis

Rendering of a virus used in the MIT experiments: The light-collecting centers, called chromophores, are in red, and chromophores that just absorbed a photon of light are glowing white. After the virus is modified to adjust the spacing between the chromophores, energy can jump from one set of chromophores to the next faster and more efficiently.

Photo credits: Courtesy of the researchers and Lauren Aleza Kaye (MIT News)

After the virus is modified to adjust the spacing between the chromophores, energy can jump from one set of chromophores to the next faster and more efficiently. One-way plants achieve this efficiency is by making use of the exotic effects of quantum mechanics — effects sometimes known as “Quantum Weirdness.” These effects, include the ability of a particle to exist in more than one place at a time, have now been used by engineers at MIT to achieve a significant efficiency boost in a light-harvesting system. The researchers at MIT and Eni, the Italian energy company, produced this new approach to solar energy not with high-tech materials or microchips — but by using genetically engineered viruses.


Platonic Solids hidden inside, symbolizing the underlying geometric patterns found throughout the universe.

credit: Gabriel Garcia Marengo

Spiral shapes found in nature

Floral phyllotaxis in basal angiosperms: Development and evolution

Endress, P. K., & Doyle, J. A. (2007). Floral phyllotaxis in basal angiosperms: development and evolution. Current Opinion in Plant Biology10(1), 52-57.

Phyllotaxis Spirals

Spiral phyllotaxis patterns have only parastichies (an oblique row of leaves arranged in a secondary spiral). In contrast, whorled patterns have both orthostichies (a hypothetical line passing through the bases of leaves or scales situated directly above one another on an axis) and parastichies.

The term phyllotaxis (from the Greek phullon  ‘leaf,’ and taxis ‘arrangement) was coined around the 17th century by a naturalist called Charles Bonnet. Many notable botanists have explored the subject, such as Leonardo da Vinci,  Johannes Kepler, and the Schimper brothers. In essence, it is the study of plant geometry – the various strategies plants use to grow and spread their fruit, leaves, petals, seeds, etc.

The term phyllotaxis (from the Greek phullon  ‘leaf,’ and taxis ‘arrangement) was coined around the 17th century by a naturalist called Charles Bonnet. Many notable botanists have explored the subject, such as Leonardo da Vinci,  Johannes Kepler, and the Schimper brothers. In essence, it is the study of plant geometry – the various strategies plants use to grow and spread their fruit, leaves, petals, seeds, etc. In flowers that form spirals, there are no whorls, and neighboring organs are not equidistant from each other. (Successive organs on the ontogenetic spiral are equidistant, but topographically they are not each other’s nearest neighbors).

In some cases, however, organs form series that are analogous to whorls because they occupy the circumference of the flower. These patterns facilitate photosynthesis, giving leaves maximum exposure to sunlight and rain, helping moisture to spiral efficiently towards roots, and or maximize exposure for insect pollination. These are just a few of the ways plants benefit from spiral geometry. Some of these patterns may be physical phenomenons, defined by their surroundings, as well as various rules of growth. They may also be results of natural selection – of long series of genetic deviations that have stood the test of time. In most cases, the answer is likely a combination of these two things. (Leung, 2018)

Visual Representations Holofractographic Structures

The simulations divide into large-volume simulations that provide statistical samples of galaxies and zoom simulations that resolve smaller scales in more detail. They also share dark matter-only simulations, such as N-body simulations, and dark matter plus Baryons simulations, such as hydrodynamical simulations. Dark matter-only simulations have now converged on a wide range of predictions for the large-scale clustering of dark matter and the dark matter distribution within gravitationally bound dark matter halos. Recent hydrodynamical simulations reproduce galaxy populations that agree remarkably well with observational data.

Golden Ratio seen in a galactic formation

Golden Ratio-Galactic formation

The Golden Ratio exists when a line is divided into two parts and the longer part (a) divided by the smaller part (b) is equal to the sum of (a) + (b) divided by (a), which both equal 1.618.

The Geometry of Microtubules

A cross-section through the transitional zone of the Chlamydomonas flagellum. (Ringo 1967 J Cell Biol)

Two classes of star patterns are observed: one (35) in which the star-forming fibers are clearly defined over their whole length and in which the apex of the V-shaped connection is visible. Another (34) in which electron-opaque material is present at the Apex of the V forms a dark ring 80-90 m~ in diameter at the center of the star pattern. In longitudinal sections of flagella, the area of the star pattern appears as the profile of two cylinders about 85 m# in diameter. This area corresponds to the ring at the center of the star.

Ringo, D. L. (1967). Flagellar motion and fine structure of the flagellar apparatus in Chlamydomonas. The Journal of cell biology33(3), 543-571.

Slice of the geometry of microtubules, the stuff cells are made of. This geometry is what is hypothesized by William Brown and other RPF members to provide macro-quantum effects in biology, allowing mass coordination of trillions of cells. 1/40 second fluctuations in and out of resonant geometry.

Ernst Chladni (1756-1827)

Ernst Chladni (1756-1827)

Ernst Chladni finds a simple relationship between sand and the various modes of vibration on a smooth surface. On polished steel plates, he dusted fine sand and manifested subtle vibrations with a violin bow, patterns of nodal lines become visible via an accumulation of sand into lines. The bounced sand from the vibrant areas forms patterns reminiscent of microtube shapes.
credit: Matemateca (IME/USP)/Rodrigo Tetsuo Argenton

The acoustic manipulation of matter

Chladni plates where sand patterns generated by vibration create
nodal lines as the sand shifts into place according to the vibrational signal.

Cymatics patterns

Audio generated visual patterns create beautiful geometric figures, with sound that exist in many aspects of nature, such as snowflakes and colossal weather systems on Saturn.

Colorized designs generated by various audio frequencies
Wakefield, M. E. (2020). Vibrational Acupuncture: Integrating Tuning Forks with Needles. Singing Dragon

Tortoise shell

The tortoiseshell, and other designs found in nature, bear a striking similarity to patterns generated by Cymatics techniques at certain frequencies.

The Holofractographic Unified Field Theory

The Holofractographic Unified Field Theory, otherwise known as the holographic principle, as explored by Leonard Susskind, the Stanford physicist who first formally defined the idea decades ago, is a theory that proposes a unified field theory for physics. The holographic principle explores the holographic nature of the structure of space and, thus, how the totality of all is within each piece – unifying physics and solving quantum gravity.

Some distant two-dimensional surface contains all the data needed to describe our world fully — and much like in a hologram, this data is projected to appear in three dimensions.

Susskind, L., & Lindesay, J. (2005). An introduction to black holes, information, and the string theory revolution: The holographic universe. World Scientific.

Is the universe an infinite scalar fractal of embedded toroidal dynamics?

  • The observer effect in quantum mechanics
  • the need to understand what your answers mean
  • take every opportunity to compare them with the real world
  • Recognize the beauty of the universe

Spiral aloe cactus

A spiral aloe cactus that displays the Fibonacci spiral.


An ammonite that bears a Holo-fractographic form.


The observer fallacy in quantum mechanics states that the observation of a phenomenon inevitably changes that phenomenon. We must always further analyze scientific findings for accurate understanding. In turn, the Mesoamerican pantheistic worldview aligns with how they viewed their place in nature. Additionally, their ritualistic use of entheogens contributed to their view of reality as a woven fabric of intent. In so much as the individual takes an active role with the forces enveloping them, it forms their existence. As artists, we use our imagination to interpret our perceptions and meditations intuitively. This project tries to understand different ways of thinking, ancient and contemporary, as presented in imagery. To consider modern ideas regarding Quantum Theory, that assert that physical reality as fields of energy and that frequencies ripple that constructs what we perceive. Our goal is to explore how these contemporary scientific ideas, comparing them to views held in the ancient pre-scientific world. Quantum LOGOS (vision serpent) uses artistic concepts to illuminate scientific concepts about the nature of our world. During the Interactive Interlude, the artwork focuses on the wave-like phenomena in the Double Slit Experiment to create a reactive narrative platform. In other sequences, the focus of the generative animation is on other phenomena such as Quantum Tunneling, the possibilities of Emergence Theory, and the preponderance of the Golden Ratio in Quantum Physics. This piece is a short time-based immersive artwork that attempts to use classic Mesoamerican and modern ideas as inspiration for the research behind it. In this piece, I am endeavoring to present new ideas with an ancient symbolic interpretation that attests to the timeless beauty of nature.

Project biography

Our use of the word Logos refers to the classic use, as a mode of persuasion where wisdom is manifest in the creation of the world: as reasoned discourse. Our method of discourse is animation.

LOGOS: the divine reason implicit in the cosmos, ordering it and giving it form and meaning.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica (2020) Logos

When we looked at art that explores the nature of existence made by early cultures, we found many common design traits that graphically approximated representations depicted in mathematics that describe quantum physics.

My interests have changed over the years from feature-based character work and short-form content to surreal subjective narrative work to exploring immersive interactive design systems in storytelling. The artwork resulting from this collaboration investigates an aesthetic approach to the abstract and challenging subject of quantum theory using myth and design archetype.

Recently my partner, Ina Conradi, and I were artist-in-residence at the UCLA Art/Sci Center, directed by artist Victoria Vesna and physicist James Gimzewski. Interacting with this inspiring duo and their colleagues, and living in Los Angeles in a pre-COVID time inspired us to take on artworks that examine science with a humanistic approach. In 2018, Ina and I set up a collaborative called Quantum Travelers with Bianka Hofmann (Creative Producer, Science Experience Specialist), Robert Kastner (Head of Candeed Cue; Vienna, Austria), and Dr. Rupert Ursin(Group Leader & Senior Scientist at the Institute For Quantum Optics And Quantum Information Vienna).

Ina and I come from entirely different cultural backgrounds, she’s from Central Europe, and I am from the American Southwest. Aside from the emotional impact of imagery, our filmic examinations include culturally ascribed differences relative to our respective personalities.

Media Art Nexus

(MAN) is a 15-by-2 meter urban media screen in Singapore dedicated to the public display of exclusively artistic content

Projects in Singapore and Japan

We set up a collaborative platform called Media Art Nexus (MAN) in 2005. MAN is a platform where we explore collaborative emergent design within the Singapore community. In the past five years, we have jointly created and curated art content with international institutions, universities, art collectives, international students, emerging and established local and international artists.

Ars Electronica 2019

We premiered this work for the 40th Anniversary Celebration of at the Ars Electronica 2019 Deep Space 8k theatre. For the layperson, the result of this work is “a first lesson” on quantum theory.

Quantum LOGOS (vision serpent) Trailer

The overall artistic goals of this work are rooted in creative expression in cultural research and tertiary education. The forthcoming catalog of references and archives of the entire project will enclose fragments of conversations with scientists, curators, working notes, and artwork, with transcripts from press interviews, presentations from the accompanying events, and lectures. The aim is to inspire artistic creatives – fine art, design, media artists, and students and industry practitioners on novel ways to communicate science to broader audiences.

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Research Papers

2014 November – Animation in Context: The Outcome of Targeted Transmedia Authorship. Mark J. Chavez

2014 March – Game Design and Appeal: designing for the user. Mark J Chavez, Mak Hon Keat

2012 April – An Active Cinema Experience: A Study on User Expectation and Perceived Gratifications of a Real-time Animated Film System. Yun-Ke Chang, Mark Chavez, Miguel A Morales-Arroyo, Jaime Jiménez

2010 April – Cinematics and Narratives: Development of a Prototype System. Mark Chavez, Lin Liu Yi

2010 February – From the animation industry to academia and research. Mark Chavez

2010 January – An emotion aware agent platform for interactive storytelling and gaming. Zhiqi Shen, Chunyan Miao, Liang Zhang, Han Yu, Mark J. Chavez

2010 April – Specialization and Collaboration Approach to Interdisciplinary Research in Contemporary Animation. Mark Chavez, Liu Lin Yi

2009 January – Voyage to the age of the dinosaurs project, an experiential learning situation with undergraduates, graduates and visiting professionals. Mark J. Chavez, Andrew Gregory, Lau Yeung, Wang Xueli

2009 June – Interactive Cinematic Experience Supported by Real-time Simulation System: Technology, Methodology, and Ideology. Mark J Chavez, Ina Conradi, Liu Linyi, Jamie Telford

2008 January – Animation and Local Environments. Ang Yi Xin, Mark J. Chavez

2007 January – Assessment of Group and Individual Learning through Intelligent Visualization (AGILeViz). Eric Hamilton, Amy L. Baylor, Mark Chavez, Ronald A. Cole, Philip Vahey

2006 July – Artificial Intelligence and Dynamic Design: Adaptive Real-Time 3D Characters. M. Chavez

2006 – January Artificial Beings That Look Back At Us. Mark J. Chavez, Alain Lioret

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Artist’s Statement

My artistic practice strives to utilize digital multimedia techniques to tag visual meaning to tangible, recognizable ideas. I explore computer animation and emotive-abstraction, matching design to emotion, as based on previous academic research in audio-driven motion and real-time animation design. My work currently attempts to shape a design sense of an anthropomorphic world view with a contemporary scientific view. I exhibit my artwork as interactive, immersive fields, short films, and print.


Mark Chavez is an animation industry veteran who has worked at major animation studios on more than 15 award-winning feature films and innovative interactive titles.

He is founding faculty for the animation area at Nanyang Technological University Singapore’s School of Art, Design & Media. He is chair of the SIGGRAPH Asia 2013 conference’s Art Gallery in Hong Kong and for the SIGGRAPH Asia 2008 Educators Program in Singapore. As a Primary Investigator, he was granted significant funding from the National Research Foundation / Media Development Authority of Singapore to establish research in the School of Art, Design & Media at Nanyang Technological University.

Mark’s most recent work a co-directed short film Chrysalis, (directed by Conradi I. and Chavez M.), based on a fable about a chrysalis struggling to become a butterfly, received a prestigious 2018 Lumiere Award by Advanced Imaging Society (AIS) Hollywood. In addition, the film received a 2017 Lumiere Award on behalf of Stereopsia Belgium, AIS and VR Society’s EMEA chapter (Europe, Middle East, and Africa).

Other new media works have been exhibited at international events such as Ars Electronica Festival (2015-2018), Media Architecture Biennial 2018 Beijing, Art|Sci Gallery UCLA 2018, Web 3D Art Gallery Brisbane 2017, Visualization Matters UNSW Sydney, Asia Animation Forum PISAF Korea 2017, and New Media Festival 2017. His other short animated films have screened at and received numerous awards from international film festivals.

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