Category Archives: Membrane Art

Undulating membrane, Malcolm Koch, undulate the surface and paint, a process of time and events, colour and texture, color and texture, South Australian landscape, South Australian geology, physics, undulating membrane provides a re-enactment of nature, flat plane generates cognitive processing, a visual metaphor for how we observe

The Quantum Wall

The following is an attempt to express an aesthetic interpretation of how fundamental particles may have evolved.

In 2004, I began experimenting with the idea that I could open up surfaces and spaces to countless more perceptual possibilities by painting on a curve rather than on a flat 2D plane. The events created on the curved surface would re-enact the ‘completeness’ of our natural world (particularly at the atomic scale), and when the results are unraveled and revealed on the 2D picture plane it might generate the human visual experience, thus being a metaphor for how we observe.

Since, this approach has enabled me to evolve and develop a body of work that I refer to as Membrane Art. The key influence and structural basis of my art practice.

Paint pourings on fixed undulations

Top: side-on view, Middle: top view, Bottom: stretched-out view:
The above shows what has happened when paint was poured on a wavy surface. Gravity allows the paint to define the form as it flows from the top (point of contact) to either side of the surfaces until it hits the base below. The stretched-out view (bottom image) starts the process of compressing the depth to generate the human visual 2D experience.


Quarks up and quarks down

Quantum brushstrokes exhibition
24 March — 23 April 2017

Tony Bond’s Gallery Space Upstairs
Edinburgh Castle Hotel
233 Currie Street, Adelaide
Mon-Fri 11am – 6pm
Sat 12pm – 6pm, Sun 1pm – 6pm

Artist talk times: Sunday 9, Sunday 23 at 4pm. Call Malcolm to confirm: 0419 864 987

Network of quarks on blue

Experimental work on paper: The two trajectory paths of the strings followed a straight line in the curled up ‘complete space’ of when it was created. Now when we observe it on the 2D picture plane (human viewpoint) the strings appear to be networked differently. For more see Quantum brushstrokes

Quarks that spin ‘up or down’ — detail

Embossed quark hole showing the anti-clockwise spin direction of the membrane. Detail of Lithium mesh (bottom right – 1 of 3 holes).

Debossed quark hole showing the clockwise spin direction of the membrane. Detail of Lithium mesh (bottom right – 2 of 3 holes).

Embossed quark hole showing the anti-clockwise spin direction of the membrane. Detail of Lithium mesh (bottom right – 3 of 3 holes).

Lithium mesh: This painting/sculpture shows a number of drill holes and saw cuts. The bottom right set of 3 ‘quark’ holes (single quarks shown above) were all created at the same time or rather as one complete expression. Yet we may observe both ‘up and down’ qualities on the 2D picture plane. This is possible when the geometric state of the membrane is altered (curled) in a way to allow such events to occur before it is then unravelled to the 2D flat plane for observation – the principle idea behind Membrane Art. For more information see Quantum_Brushstrokes or Membrane Art.

Lithium mesh was highly commended at the Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize, 2016. Synthetic polymer on JPP Synthetic, 566gsm, 1020w x 760h mm


Electron shower

Membrane Art holds true — Regardless of whether the events made on the surface are painted, sprayed, poured, drilled, sawed, stamped, cracked or any other kind of mark making, the curved nature of the membrane creates the structural expressions for the work — and provided the work is presented in a flattened 2D form for observation — it is a consequence of the aesthetic thought.

Holes (particles) created from curves

It is the curved nature of the membrane 
that creates the structural interpretations — and when the work is presented in a flattened 2D form for observation — the trajectory path appears to be different.

Curled phase
The trajectory path (broken line) of the drill hole follows a short and straight path in complete space (unseen).


Flattened phase
When the curl is unravelled, the trajectory path (broken line) remains the same as it was above. Yet the path seems longer, goes back in time and appears networked differently when we observe it from this (human) viewpoint.



‘I’m inclined to think that…the 3D world is an illusion. The ultimate precise reality is the 2D reality on the surface of the universe’, Leonard Susskin*

*Source: What is space? 48:30s, 2015
Note 1: The holes (3 white marks on the membrane surface) should be viewed as the vectors created within the field. They aren’t necessarily the particles themselves but the negative space that’s require for them to exist on the 2D surface.
Note 2: A second phase dimension has been neglected from these diagrams.

Working notes of ‘Lithium mesh’ (Spatial Lithium)

Lithium-mesh_notes-on-back_Malcolm Koch

The photograph above is of my working notes which appears on the reverse side of my ‘Highly Commended’ art piece, Lithium mesh. Although you will not see this side of it on display at the prestigious Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize 2016 exhibition – it shows my thoughts and the science of my working method. For more information about the science behind it, see the following blog (Proton brushstrokes) or download the PDF file Quantum brushstrokes

To see the finished mounted work, visit the South Australian Museum from 10 June until 31 July 2016. Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize_Gallery


Artist statement of work: Lithium mesh
Quarks & leptons are the building blocks of matter — I’ve created a series of events, using curls & waves, that interpret a geometric construct of a particle’s properties. The curved structures create a framework that allows for connections and entangled systems to manifest. Finally the surface is flattened to 2D-form for observation. The viewer experiences the unravelled results — challenging perceptions that things are often not what they appear to be — a tangible expression of how nature at the very small scale may be formed, by complicated structures and events that are concealed from us.

Proton brushstroke: from curvature to flat

Proton_Quantum_brushstroke_Malcolm-Koch_2016_2I’m inclined to think that… ‘the 3D world is an illusion. The ultimate precise reality is the 2D reality on the surface of the universe’, Leonard Susskin*

*Source: What is space? 48:30s, 2015
Note: A second phase dimension has been neglected from this diagram. Download the PDF file Quantum brushstrokes for more.

Quantum brushstrokes – Is it an open door for abstraction?

The Observer recently wrote a very interesting article titled, Are Painters out of ideas? In it they suggest that they are, ‘as it is just too difficult to be truly original with paint these days.’

Of course, ‘mimicry—either the naive or purposeful kind—is not new, nor is it illegal.’ But what caught my attention was the statement, ‘that there are only so many variants of color, brushstroke and composition to discover, especially once you get into formal abstraction. And in fact, the art world had seen an explosion of simplistic wall works over its recent boom years, many of which rehashed post-Minimalist or process-based ideas from the ’60s and ’70s in order to produce a high yield of nearly indistinguishable abstractions.’

While I essentially agree with the premise of this, I don’t agree that all has been explored. I believe what I call the ‘quantum brushstrokes’ opens a door to abstraction that is not borrowing, stealing, appropriating, or copying from the past. It is authentic, real and relevant to anyone, like me, who has a keen interested in expressing the aesthetics of our natural universe.

See full article here:

For more download: Quantum brushstrokes

Carbon 12 is favourable for entanglement


It seems to me that the efficiency of creating this diptych (Carbon 12) is a clue as to why life forms are favoured towards a carbon-based structure. This painting was completed with only 6 drill holes and 3 saw cuts as one entangled expression, yet we can observe — a sea of 72 quarks (holes) and a cloud of 39 electrons (cuts).

About the painting: Created as a series of quantum brushstrokes, it interprets the geometric construct of the respective particles properties, ie, protons, neutrons, electrons. The various curved structures create a framework that allows for connections and entangled systems to manifest. Finally the surface is flattened to the 2D-form for observation. The viewer experiences the unconcealed and simplified results rather than an accrual of the method used – a possible model of how the natural world is formed, even at a tiny scale, by complicated structures and events.

For more see Carbon 12 (network) in the flesh at my latest exhibition:
Visual entanglement
FutureSpace Gallery
RiAus, 55 Exchange Place
Adelaide SA 5000
10am to 5pm, Monday to Friday
on until 3 June 2016

More information about the work: Quantum brushstrokes

Quantum brushstrokes are real

This is an attempt to express a classical interpretation of how fundamental particles may have evolved. Also it tries to address some of the principle questions about why certain particles and initial conditions have been favourable for life to evolve while others have not.

I must emphasise that this aesthetic interpretation has not been tested or verified in any way, shape or form (it’s a ‘fruitloopery’ interpretation from a fringe dweller). Nevertheless it is an invitation to think about what fundamentally cannot be actually directly observed – a quantum particle (not yet anyhow). Therefore the aim is to provide a platform for a visual dialogue that postulates current particle physicists theories, so that we may then have a tactile understanding of their thinking and subsequent discoveries. Afterall, developing bite-size visual queues is a particularly humanistic quality beneficial for understanding our world and each other. Without that, the practical implications may not be as readily realised.

At the same time, this is an extension into the art practice I call, Membrane Art — that is, how geometric curves provide the framework for events to manifest and evolve, yet the flat picture plan is an agent of how we observe them — necessary to help us analyse and contemplate what has happened.

I trust that with further understandings this aesthetic practice will evolve and be further enhanced in time.

_ _

Building brushstrokes (Quantum brushstrokes)

The building blocks of matter are made up of two kinds of brushstroke expressions:

  • Quark brushstrokes
: Quarks are represented by drill holes created on a particular kind of curl (strong interactions) — a quark is a tiny particle which makes up protons and neutrons.


  • Electron brushstrokes: Electrons (leptons) are represented by saw cuts created on a wavy surface (electromagnetic interactions).


Whichever brushstroke expression is used the similarities to the way a brushstroke mark is made on a flat plane remains the same — there is initial contact, movement across and then an exit off the surface.

Note: The saw cuts and drill holes are vector spaces left behind within the field and not the particles themselves. That eventuates as a consequence of it.

Quark brushstroke


Favourable curled structures
The curled membrane represents the geometry of the strong field needed to create the particles that interact with it. The drill holes produced on this curvature structure is similar to the way a brushstroke mark is made on a flat plane – there is initial contact, movement across and then an exit off the surface.

Strong interactions
1: This side view of a curled membrane represents how strong interactions are created. One drill hole can express a multiple flavours of quarks. When entry occurs at the point where two convex surfaces are close together and the exited point is a concave structure – a proton is created (two up / one down).
2: If the curl is spun 180° (half spin) then a different set of events occur. When entry occurs at one convex structure and the exit point is at two concave structures that are close together – a neutron is created (two down / one up).
3: Flat view: The aesthetic is realised when the membrane is opened out and the depth is compressed. Nothing disappears, it just changes form. This generates the human visual experience, a metaphor for how we perceive.

Working hypothesis
Quarks eventuate out of the six different spacial geometries as shown above (3 proton-style quarks, 3 neutron-style quarks). In practice, however, vector fields that holds the quarks are often malformed at the time of creation. It doesn’t matter that the same drill-bit size was used to cut through all the various curvature constructs, you can expect variations to size to occur. Whether or not this is due to the condition of the tool used, extra debris or other surface conditions allows for a multitude of variations to manifest. Nature is fickle, so if quarks are created in this way then you can expect that given time (billions of years or so) decay or other high entropy processes may then ‘clean up’ the vector spaces to allow for a more full-bodied quark type to evolve and become favourable for atom formation.

Electron brushstroke


Favourable wave structures
The wave membrane represents the geometry of the electromagnetic field needed to create the particles that interact with it. The saw cuts on this curvature structure is similar to the way a brushstroke mark is made on a flat plane – there is initial contact, movement across and then an exit off the surface.

Electro/magnetic interactions
1: This side view of a wave membrane represents the electromagnetic field. The geometric relationship creates ‘hidden’ structures for the work.
2: This shows how one expression (a cut made by the circular saw) can appear to be in two places at the same time.
3: Flat view: The aesthetic is realised when the depth is compressed. Nothing disappears – it just changes form. This generates the human visual experience, a metaphor for how we perceive.

Working hypothesis
The saw cuts and drill holes are vectors created within the field and don’t necessarily represent the particles themselves. Smaller sedimentary-style matter (strings) may fill the void left behind to create the so-called elementary particle. In practice, for entangled (networks) to occur, electron brushstrokes by default might contain more parts or substructures then the ones we know. For example, the bottom fold which contains no cut, is still a part of the overall structure. It creates the visual connection (distance) between two saw cut expressions when we observe them on the flat plane.

I have not considered the scale differences between leptons and quarks in the development of this work. Curled structures might have eventuated before wave structures. They may simply be a by-product of curled up ones.

Creating atoms (protons, neutrons, electrons)
with second phase dimensions


Favourable particles
We can now use both drill holes and saw cuts to create vectors and other interactions on the surface of the membranes. To create entangled (networks) a second phase dimension is hidden within the geometry of the curvature constructs at the time of creation. In practice, this second phase dimension must be large enough so that it can be held in place by the outer dimension at the time of creation — too small, it misses, rolls around inside and remains unconnected.

1: This electron was created with additional hidden structures (phase dimension) to express a ‘cloud of electrons’ that are entangled as one expression as seen on the opened out perspective.
2: Multiple quarks can be created with additional hidden structures (phase dimension) to express a ‘sea of quarks’ that are entangled (networked) as one expression as shown on the opened out perspective.
3: Flat viewpoint – all sorts of expressive combinations can be created with quantum brushstrokes that relate to fundamental particle formations. Yet the flat picture plane is necessary to help us analyse and contemplate what has happened.

Working hypothesis
If the same size drill-bit and saw blade is used to cut through all phase dimensions then it could be that the hidden dimensions is as large (possibly tighter and more fragile) then the dimensions we know. For entanglement to occur, particles by default must clump together to form stable groups. So when smaller sedimentary-style matter (strings) fill the space left behind they may entangle with all phase dimensions as one expression.

For more see:
Visual entanglement
FutureSpace Gallery
RiAus, 55 Exchange Place
Adelaide SA 5000
10am to 5pm, Monday to Friday
on until 3 June 2016

Visual entanglement

This exhibition is an expression of my understanding of quantum physics. I’m attempting to communicate how fundamental particles may have evolved. Quarks & leptons are the building blocks of matter – I’ve created curls & waves that relate to the physical properties found in these particles. The curved structures also create a framework that allows for connections and entangled systems to manifest and evolve that couldn’t happen any other way.

Starts: Monday, 22 March  — 3 June 2016
Opening night: 23 March 6—7pm
RiAus FutureSpace Gallery
55 Exchange Place, Adelaide South Australia
Open: Monday — Friday, 9-5pm

MOU signed with RiAus

I’ve just signed a MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with RiAus (Royal Institution of Australia Inc) for a solo exhibition called Visual Entanglement. This exhibition will be held at the Science Exchange in the FutureSpace Gallery from Monday 21 March to Friday 3 June 2016 (10 weeks).

Recently, many scientific discoveries have been shaping and redefining our understanding of the laws of nature. So, the objective of this exhibition is to make the science of this (quantum mechanics in particular) seem more approachable to everyone. By putting the ‘observer’ (the human aesthetic values) into the framework, I’ll be able to develop a narrative through a series of visual expressions that cannot be described independently, ie, they’ll be entangled.

As science and aesthetics is an integral part of the ethos of MembraneArt, more than any other exhibition I’ve done before, I’m looking forward to working with RiAus to present and fulfil this objective in a meaningful way.

Being in two places at the same time.

In the example below, three cuts were made to an undulated membrane surface. This was then stretched and mounted to the two dimensional picture plane. So the top three expressions (cuts) were created at the same time as the bottom three. This illustrates how expressions can be in two places at once. A further explanation is given below.

Malcolm Koch_MA#50_diptych_IMG_1260
MA#50 (diptych) at my Energy Travels exhibition: Angas Travel, The Parks 10/154 Fullarton Road, Rose Park, South Australia. Mon-Fri 9am-5pm, until the end of January 2016.

Membrane Art: An aesthetic thought:


1) Side view of an undulated membrane; The geometry of the membrane creates a ‘hidden’ construct for the development of the work.

2) Top angle view: From this view we can start to see how one expression (in this instance, a cut made by a circular saw) has appeared in two places at the same time.

3) The stretched out view: The aesthetic is realised when the depth is compressed (membrane stretched). Nothing disappears … it just changes form from an undulation to a flatter state. This generates the human visual experience, a metaphor for how we perceive.

Note: Undulations can take any form. They could be fixed or unfixed, angled or straight, shallow or deep, loose or tight, crumpled or smooth. Whatever the undulations, it controls the process of paint flow, cuts and scrapes.

Rorschach and Matthys Gerber’s work

The motif of the Rorschach reappears throughout Matthys Gerber’s work. In regard to this aspect of his work, I’d say it is the act of folding the ‘membrane’ rather than the effect of blots or duplicates created (a by-product) that is the aesthetic underpinning each piece. This is what I call Membrane Art — its belongs to another category. Once you recognise this, then other principles of the aesthetic thought open up.

It is worth watching the video and to hear his thoughts in conversation with Museum of Contemporary Art’s senior curator Natasha Bullock particularly his closing remarks.

Reinventing the grid

MA#49_Malcolm Koch_s

The grid is defined by the geometric form of the membrane at the time paint was poured over the surface. So when we observe the image on the flat 2-dimensional picture plane it appears distorted. Interesting how the low lying parts of the folds have defined the grid edges. This is unseen until it is fully stretched and mounted. For a full explanation see About Membrane Art in the menu.

See MA#49 in the fresh at the Energy Travels exhibition – Angas Travel for the SALA Festival 2015. On until 31 August, 2015.

Brick+Mortar exhibition

A sneak preview of my latest exhibition: On until July 26, 2015. Pop in for a coffee and browse. Brick + Mortar, 49 George Street, Norwood (next to the Norwood Town Hall).

Brick+Mortar exhibition_IMG_1055

Left: New work MA#49. Right: A work in progress, illustrates how the membrane creates the basic structure before it is flattened onto a two dimensional picture plane.

Brick+Mortar exhibition_IMG_1061

From left to right: MA#45, MA#48, MA#11.


When art lost its soul: Breaking the aesthetic drought

There has been a 40 year shift of priorities away from the aesthetics of painting, both abstract and representational, in favour of a political, sexual, sociological and environmental interest in art-making activities. ¹ ²  The cultural focus is now so predominant in art, particularly the ‘pop’ versions, which are led and controlled by the so-called Art world, it’s no wonder that the aesthetics—so crucial to the development of art itself—get little attention at all. ³  In the larger arena of intellectual and cultural life, it appears that we are comfortable with presenting work on the basis of the thematic ‘content’.

The lack of focus on aesthetics has not gone unnoticed. Mainstream art critics, dwindling as they are, have found themselves occupying an almost uninhabitable critical space for which they get drowned out. Recently, Andrew Frost wrote an opinion piece for the Art Guide defining where art is at the moment – in limbo waiting for things to eventually wash out. 4

Whatever the cause, the historical permutations that have led to the situation art critics and artists now find themselves, is largely irrelevant. The real driving force for innovation must come from artists’ themselves. This obviously has to happen before the art critics have something to say about it. And nor should it be up to individual talent. It requires group impacts on aesthetic thought, not individual talent working alone, but art movements working collectively to create visual-shifts that set the kind of agenda on our cultural life that was clearly present during the last two centuries up until the 1960’s, which is recognised as the peak of radical innovation emulated by a healthy mix of fresh and established talents.

Artists can do as Andrew Frost suggests—just wait for things to wash out, or they can act now. To act now you need a reason. You might think that this extended ‘aesthetic drought’, was reason enough, but clearly not. Likewise, hoping that things might naturally materialise because astute artists will suddenly find the resources and impetuous to collectively act is, unfortunately, not how it works either. I believe change is more likely to occur because commerce demands it. The fact remains that the aesthetics of art has been lagging behind the economic and cultural advances being made elsewhere in human endeavours, particularly in the sciences 5. Oscar Wilde put it, ‘life imitates Art far more than Art imitates life’. By this he was talking about all forms of expression. However this is not what we have been witnessing in the realm of painting. A correction is well overdue and commerce could be the vehicle that brings it to life once again.

After all, as a bare minimum, it should be expected that the artists’ obligation is to execute work that speaks to the mainstream consciousness, and builds on our material heritage, not just simply adds to it.

This brings me back to the aesthetics. I believe that I’ve found a reason—I call it Membrane Art. It provides a purpose and direction out of which a discernible aesthetic language has materialised. The release of Membrane Art: An evolving expression aims to start a conversation to break this long-held thirst. Whether it will prompt further discussion into the understanding and validity of those insights remains to be seen.


¹ Art Pulse, Interview With Barry Schwabsky, 29 June 2011. See headline quote and his 13th comment. Barry Schwabsky interview

² Hilton Kramer, Does abstract art have a future? The New Criterion, December 2002. Hilton Kramer

³ German artist Katharina Grosse asks the question why there is a lack of discussion on the aesthetics of colour, April 2015: Painting with Color | ART21

4 A Critique of Pure Unreason, Andrew Frost, January 2015: Art Guide story

5 Book publication: Insight Radical – Where Science Meets Art, 2013. Project and Editor note’s by Carl H Schiesser and Renee Beale, p4-7. Online Abstract: Insight Radical

The entanglement series

I’ve recently been attempting to paint the physical phenomenon that is quantum entanglement. I’m trying to achieve this by showing that marks (particles) produced on a ‘membrane’ surface can be in multi-places at the same time. I’m doing this by first folding or undulating the surface in such a way so that I can apply one action to create many marks at once. When they dry, I’ll be opening the membrane up and stretching it to a frame as part of my study into whether I’ll encounter any technical issues.

My aim is to hint at how the science may be understood. Furthermore, by recreating the mechanics at a macro level, it could help to illustrate how things might become entangled in the quantum mechanical system. Because the results are static and displayed retrospectively, it could help our understanding of the theory, including the EPR paradox.

Exhibition(s) to come in due course.

Undulation_IMGP0026_entanglement Undulation_IMGP0027_entanglement


Note: It’s a condition of all my work that I’m partly or completely unsighted to the events created. So we shouldn’t pass judgement on the merits of these ‘works-in-progress’ until they’ve been cropped and fully stretched  — in a restful state for observation.

Membrane Art principals at work

The title of her exhibition might say ‘Chemical Reactions’ but it is the membrane and how Mariah Robertson manipulates it that creates the basic structure for her work. The chemical reactions are the relative results of events that have occurred on the surface. This illustrates why I believe the ‘absolute’ aesthetic thought, Membrane Art is a legitimate art movement, as it is the thought itself (whether its subconsciously or consciously derived) that prevails under any conditions or circumstances. So, artists like Mariah Robertson are able to use different mediums, techniques and processes to achieve results that hold Membrane Art principals. Watch how she does it. This is a beautiful process of discovery!

Mariah Robertson’s Chemical Reactions 

The membrane surface

By understanding that a surface interconnects and defines space, provides the means to create a vocabulary that can be found in our physical world. This vocabulary may repeat itself but its in the way that you perceive it and how you go about putting it together that provides endless differences.

Hughes Gallery

The Hughes Gallery is displaying one of my pieces. I haven’t seen this work for six months and looking at it again on display I still believe its one of my finest. The Hughes Gallery: Fullarton Park Centre, 411 Fullarton Road. 20 March – 17 April 2014. Mon-Fri.

Membrane Art talk

I’ve been asked to do a one hour talk about my work. I’ll most likely talk for 10–15 minutes and then follow up with a short presentation. I’m hoping that there will be a lot of questions to fill up the rest of the time. If not, I’ll read some selected essay’s from Art Critics’ collected over many years to the present day that I believe validate my thinking. The artist talk is at Pepper Street Arts Centre on 1 February 2014, Saturday 3pm – 4pm.