Martha Morgan Visual Arts

The Golden Ratio in Tryon Creek State Park
The miracle is that the universe created a part of itself to study the rest of it, and that this part in studying itself finds the rest of the universe in its own natural inner realities. - John C. Lilly

The Golden Tree Bands offer a strong and subtle visual presence within a large space because of their placement, color, and the existing grandeur of the trees and not their physical size or weight. They act as an orderly, minimalist, and geometric presence amidst the organic, free-form splendor of the forest. Beyond attracting the eyes, the bands attract curiosity: What idea is behind this appearingly random placement of these golden bands?

You are looking at Phi- a linear example of the Golden Ratio. What is Phi and how is it relevant to you within this forest experience? It has also been called the Golden Section, Gold Mean, Divine Proportion and has been studied since ancient times. Phi is represented by an irrational and infinite number: 1.6180339887... The harmonic proportion is seen throughout nature, math, art, architecture, and science. This seemingly simple-looking line division that Euclid described using mathematical language is a pervasive constant in topics ranging from leaf arrangements in botany to the structure of the galaxies. The recurring presence of the irrational ratio of Phi in this plethora of disciplines reveals an infinite and intangible side to our world. The Golden Ratio evokes the feeling of utter amazement that physicist Albert Einstein (along with many other scientists, mathematicians, artists and biologists) valued. In his words: "The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and science." Even at this moment, the branches of the tree bearing the rings as well as those of the surrounding forest are growing according to the ratio of Phi. The same ratio is at work in your DNA, the stars, the Pantheon and many other wondrous things...

Books for further investigation
  • The Golden Ratio by Mario Livio, Broadway Books, 2002
  • Divine Proportion, Phi In Art, Nature, and Science by Priya Hemenway, Sterling Publishing Co., 2005
  • The Power of Limits, Proportional Harmonies in Nature, Art, and Architecture by Gyorgy Doczi, Shambhala, 1994
  • Sacred Geometry Philosophy and Practice by Rober Lawlor, Thames and Hudson, 1982

"All things are full of signs, and it is a wise man who can learn about one thing from another."
-Plotinus (205-270), Roman Philosopher

"...both artists and scientists help us notice and appreciate things in nature that we had learned to ignore or had never been taught to see. Both art and science are needed to fully understand nature and its effects on people."
- Exploratorium founder Dr. Frank Oppenheimer