Jackson Pollock may have been a secret physicist, judging by a recent scientific analysis of his techniques and works. Or not.
How many times do we do things without stopping to examine the underlying physical principles? I'm sure that many a cake may have been put together Amelia Bedelia-style, "A pinch of this, a toss of that", and the end result is sometimes better, though quirkier than the perfectly adhered-to recipe.
It makes for fun to know that we do what we do, but doesn't make the outcome palpably better. But the exploration of those principles can make for fascinating stuff.
Pollock's works have alway been the subject of both awe and derision. Whether it was lauded as a 'liberation from value- political, esthetic, moral' or derided as 'a joke in bad taste', the paintings themselves, remain to this day, widely popular and iconic in status as the years pass.
From the Wired.com article:
"Now, Boston College art historian Claude Cernuschi, Harvard mathematicians Lakshminarayanan Mahadevan and Herczynski have turned the tools of physics on Pollock’s painting process. In what they believe is the first quantitative analysis of drip painting, the researchers derived an equation for how Pollock spread paint.
The team focused on the painting Untitled 48-49, which features wiggling lines and curlicues of red paint. Those loops formed through a fluid instability called coiling, in which thick fluids fold onto themselves like coils of rope.
“People thought perhaps Pollock created this effect by wiggling his hand in a sinusoidal way, but he didn’t,” Herczynski said.
There is even an interesting video that illustrates the principle of the fluid mechanics behind some of the curlicues that show up in detailed view the Pollock painting.
Now you know what to do on a rainy day with food coloring/paint/flour and paper. Experiment away and make mini-Pollock style masterpieces of your own. You don't need to understand the Physics behind it to enjoy it. Maybe that was partly what Pollock's painting was all about, more about the enjoyment of the moment of creation, and less about understanding the phenomenon behind it.