“It is only necessary to make war with five things; with the maladies of the body, the ignorances of the mind, with the passions of the body, with the seditions of the city and the discords of families.”
This article is my fifth article pertaining to the design field. Design in essence cannot be accomplished without specific degrees of control, and almost always has a definitive point to make. How well the ‘point’ can be made is attributed to how well the design was carried out. This cannot be said about art. Art can be about anything or nothing at all, which makes design a subdivision of art. In this respect design can be seen as separate from other art forms, because the designer has a singular goal. In order to understand any art form at its core, the viewer must understand visual acoustics on an elementary level. The level I have chosen to start with is numbers and their relationships with each other through geometry and proportion. Design cannot be truly understood without attaining this knowledge. Not only is this the basis for every art form, but it is also the architecture of the natural world. Also to aide the reader, I will be referencing specific visual instances where the number or geometry in question can be better understood.
As stated in my first article ‘Design Intervention’, the goal of these next articles will be dedicated specifically to understanding our numerical system through the process of Sacred Geometry. I will be breaking down each of the single digit numbers from 1-9, and end with zero. Of course, if we are talking about numbers, the best place to start is technically zero, but I think saving the best for last is appropriate for this kind of approach.
We now find ourselves nearing the center of our numerical experience, and at this point movement is the key in order to get us through the rest of our journey. Keep in mind when we previously discussed the number 1, we gave birth to the idea of time and its relationship with creation. With the conception of the number 5, we find that we are given the freedom to get up and move about. It’s as if creation implied that now we get up and get to work, bringing the idea of great stress and heightened activity along with it. Nature as if in direct response of being called to action simply asks “If there is to be movement, where to?” Our answer is given in the form of a spiral, which is the key to unlocking the secrets of this number.
Our natural theme of movement implied by this number gives way to a form known commonly as the ‘Phi Spiral’ or ‘Golden Mean Spiral’ through the doorway of pentagonal symmetry. For those of you who are unfamiliar with these concepts, don’t worry since you are literally built and grown with them (See Phi Relationships in Nature image). As always, if we are to truly understand this pentagonal force we must construct ourselves a pentagon (See Construction of a Pentagon image). I won’t dive too deeply into our intimate relationship with Phi, but I’ll try and deliver the basics. Phi is the ratio (1:1.618033…) through which all living and growing processes manifest themselves. It is considered irrational or transcendental, being that it (evidently) never ends (See Phi Ratio Image). A well-known and very simple mathematical formula that is directly related to Phi is called the ‘Fibonacci Sequence’. Quite simply, starting with 0 and 1, the sequence adds pairs of numbers to derive the next number in the sequence, like this:
0+1=2, 1+1=2, 1+2=3, 2+3=5, 3+5=8, etc. This sequence goes on forever and looks something like this:
0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, etc…
This sequence was first published by Leonardo of Pisa, also know as Fibonnacci, which is where we get the name of the sequence. It is related to Phi because when you divide any pair of adjacent numbers in the sequence the result achieves an increasing accuracy to Phi the farther out the sequence you go. For example (remembering Phi = 1.618033…):
5 / 3 = 1.666…
8 / 5 = 1.6
55 / 34 = 1.617647…
144 / 89 = 1.6178977…
This sequence will continue to oscillate above and below the Phi ratio, forever. Be warned that when you begin to study and relate with the infinite, the infinite also begins to relate with you. This could prove to be quite a distinct change from the typical ‘we have only one life to live’ dichotomy, so I challenge those interested to have an open mind in this regard.
To pull us away from the abstract and purely mathematical inclinations of this number, we must indeed look at some art. Some people (including me) are surprised to see that not only old, but ancient artists include this number’s geometry in the art and architecture of their day. Large portions of history saw an increase of religious scrutiny towards this subject and artists literally had to hide this knowledge from their patrons. What is interesting is that they chose to hide these things right in plain sight. (See Golden Mean Architecture image). When you think back to when you first saw images of the Taj Mahal or the Parthenon in school studies, it was no wonder we enjoyed them so much since we share such an intimate relationship with their core geometry. Going back as far as the Great Pyramid of Giza we see this ratio played out right in front of our eyes, and are only now coming to realize it. Did you really think our founding fathers were naive enough to put a bunch of 5-pointed stars on the flag without realizing their meaning?
The nature of the number 5 has much to teach us about our growth. It seems that since we are now en-route and moving, our consciousness is capable of having a real experience of itself. Next month our past, present, and future (given by the number 5) are brought to the forefront of our awareness and with this comes the concept of the first ‘perfect’ and balanced number in the bunch, the number 6.