The Importance of Dots

It is often the little things that are the basis of progress… So let me tell you a little story about the tiniest thing on earth: the dot.

Thousands of years ago, a man in his solitude scanned the night sky and saw all those dots shining like so many still fireflies, and, perhaps for fun, he decided to join them together to form shapes. This is how zodiac signs and astronomy were born.

Far away, in ancient India, the dot symbolized beauty and the eye of knowledge. But even more, the dot they called “shunya-bindu” (शून्यबिन्दु) represented what we nowadays know as zero. It was first a placeholder and then a fully fledged number, for when it is added to the right of the representation of any given digit, the value of the digit is multiplied by ten. This is how our current numbers and decimal numeration system were born.

While drawing or painting, visual artists of all times used to fix a dot – or more specifically a point in space – which was traditionally visualized from the tip of their thumb. Eventually, when this point receded so far away in space, it became known as a “vanishing point”. A vanishing point is where all converging lines of a landscape meet at the horizon. This is how perspective and geometry were born.

One day, medieval musicians were tired of having to rely solely on their memories to remember songs. So they started to use dots, named “puncti”, placed on or between four lines to represent the pitch and duration of a sound. This is how musical notation and programming were born.

In the modern era, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, dots were used in many other symbolic forms: bumps, holes, single tones, flashes of light… Do the terms Braille, Morse, punched card, or pixel sound familiar to you? This is how communication and coding were born.

This is how the humble dot, often overlooked, has served as a fundamental building block for countless advancements throughout history. Never underestimate the power of small things; within a dot was the whole universe.

Bridget Riley, White Discs 2, 1964, emulsion on board, 41 × 39 inches (104 × 99 cm) © Bridget Riley 2021. All rights reserved.

(The text above has been used as foreword for the book “The All-Round Activity Book” available from Amazon)

Perceptual Nexus: A new philosophy of perception

Presenting a sneak peek of my upcoming philosophical book on perception.

In this exploration, I dissect the dynamic interplay between our “self,” the elusive “perception sphere,” and the external world. Operating independently, the perception sphere lacks self-awareness, creating a symbiotic relationship with the self, which, in turn, relies on the sphere for perceiving both itself and the external world.

Eager to discuss further with potential publishers.

Enlightening Exhibition

Per celebrare la luce è stato realizzato un percorso espositivo nell’Università di Firenze dedicato alle illusioni ottiche. La mostra, curata da un comitato scientifico, ospita anche molte delle mie opere.

To celebrate light, an exhibition’s itinerary was created at the University of Florence to explore the world of optical illusions. The exhibition, curated by a scientific committee, also hosts many works of mine.

Maggiori informazioni / More information

Subliminal Faces

This series of works questions the many cognitive aspects of faces’ recognition. People often see hidden faces in things, clouds, landscapes, or in architectural structures… Finding the latent or virtual image hidden in the manifest image is a mental process related to the concept of the “lost object” used in psychoanalysis. As an artist, I enjoy including subliminal messages or figures in my work. My paintings, photographs and collages play on the foreground and background relationship of our visual perception and represent common or iconic faces the viewer has to rediscover.

The Master of Numbers
Collage – mixed media, 2006

Photomosaic portrait of Albert Einstein made with random photographs of numbers.
It is only when the viewer moves away from the image that the portrait of Einstein appears. It is the distance that creates and unveils the truth, because everything is relative as Einstein once said and everything depends on the context, the environment or the point of view.

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Inspiration

“Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour films, music, books, paintings, poems, photographs, conversations, dreams, trees, architecture, street signs, clouds, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work will be authentic… Don’t bother concealing your thievery – celebrate it if you feel like it. Remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.”

Paul Arden

Fantastic Optical Illusions

Cover Fantastic Optical Illusions

“Everything we see hides another thing;
we always want to see what is hidden by what we see.”

– René Magritte

My book “Fantastic Optical Illusions” (ISBN: 178739235X) features all the best and most interesting illusion types: ambiguous and impossible figures, hidden objects, color and brightness effects, length, size and shape misperceptions, illusory moving patterns and image paradoxes.
This best-selling book has been first printed in 2004, since then I have made important updates on the latest discoveries in the world of perception, to be sure the book will continue to amaze both the young and the adult reader.
Available from Amazon UK and Amazon USA.

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