Meet Jeremy Smith: Turning Math into Art You Can Use

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JSartJeremy Smith is an artist with a degree in botany, and a computer programmer by trade. He is just the sort of Renaissance man you’d expect to see at da Vinci Days, at which he’s had a regular booth since 2007. Jeremy has also participated in Beaver Barcamp at OSU and the Maker Faire, “part science fair, part county fair, and part something entirely new,” held in the Bay Area.

Jeremy creates two- and three-dimensional mathematical art, including installation art, with a particular focus on shapes and patterns. Much of his art is interactive—paper cutouts that can be folded into polyhedra; a pendulum made of bowling balls. Jeremy is interested in art that is aesthetically pleasing and useful. The cutout dodecahedron is also a calendar—12 sides.

Jeremy finds culture preferences for certain shapes interesting and experiments with shapes other than the cube that would be useful for storage or architecture. He is drawn to polyhedrons, specifically Platonic solids: regular, convex polyhedrons, of which there are only five. Many of his two-dimensional prints are of the space-filling curve, which Jeremy and others use to try to solve mapping problems, such as finding efficient delivery routes.

Jeremy’s parents met at art school, and he has been on his arts journey most of his life. At London University in the 1970s, as a botany major, he took a statistics class, and that was the beginning of his interest in computer programming, before computers were even a thing. “I found that eventually, once I got something working, I just loved it. I was very happy,” he said. “Programming to me is an amazing tool that will allow you to do anything.”

In fact, many of his pictures are side products of his mathematic problem-solving through programming. “The pictures are a representation of my progress so far,” he said.

In 2003 some of Jeremy’s pictures were featured on the cover of MIT’s Artificial Life press journal. Artificial life differs from artificial intelligence in that, instead of giving a robot intelligence, the goal of artificial life is to give a robot the ability to learn by experience. “AI is top-down, and A-Life is bottom-up,” said Jeremy.

“The reason I was interested in A-Life,” he added, “is because it seemed for many years that there was nothing novel. The universe was as it was and no novel discoveries had been made.” But Jeremy was taken with the idea of complexity—“Complex images from simple algorithms.” This is what connects Jeremy’s art and career, his love of patterns and programming. Complexity, including life, emerging from simple patterns.

Smith’s work can be seen  during the Thursday, Dec. 17 Arts Walk at the Corvallis Advocate Loft, 425 SW Madison; enter just west of Einstein’s Bagels, upstairs. Open 4 p.m. to
8 p.m. You can also see Smith’s work online at or print your own polyhedra construction kits at

By Kelsi Villarreal

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