(see static version of this figure at bottom of page)


SYMMETRY. Drawn with a single line on the surface of a cube. The line begins and ends at with the crossbars of the two E’s. Can you trace the entire line with your eye?

INSPIRATION. For Dick Termes, artist who paints on spheres.

STORY. I first met Dick Termes in 1992 at the Math Art conference. I had seen his work in books, but flat pictures hardly do justice to his work. You see, Termes paints images of landscapes and environments on the surface of a sphere, not on flat canvas. Instead of a narrow window onto a larger scene, you get the full panorama. And not just a 360° panorama like the walls of a room. You get absolutely everything in all directions, including sky above and earth below.
    I find his borderless paintings wonderfully freeing. Instead of being locked into a single frame of reference, you are invited to look around. You can’t see the whole painting at once, so the act of seeing retains a sense of mystery and discovery. The seamless sphere restores a sense of wholeness lacking in a chopped off rectangular frame.
     To produce his paintings Termes invented his own system of what he calls six-point perspective. He paints on tough light plastic spheres originally manufactured for light fixtures. After he roughs up the surface with sand paper he applies gesso and acrylic paint. The final spheres are hung from the ceiling on a motorized rotating mount. He has created over 140 Termespheres since 1969.
     For pictures and stories about Termes’ work, visit his web site. He has many items for sale. The spheres themselves are expensive, but he also offers inexpensive paper models that fold into Platonic solids, as well as a book on his perspective system and a video.

When I met Dick Termes I knew I had to do something with his name. Naturally I wanted to draw his name on a sphere. His name has six letters, so I flattened the sphere into a six-faced cube. I placed the letters in a zig-zag pattern so the whole name can be read by turning the cube around a single axis.
     Doodling with his name I discovered that the letters connected well one to the next, so I searched for a way to draw the entire name with a single line. I found working with the entire surface of a cube a wonderfully three-dimensional experience. I was pleased to find that the two E’s provided natural beginning and ending points for the line. Only the R face has obviously superfluous lines. I drew the cube in Illustrator, popped it into three dimensions with Adobe Dimensions, and animated it with Flash
     If you would like to make your own “Termescube”, here is a model you can print, cut out, and fold together.

Copyright 2001 Scott Kim.
All rights reserved.