Life and Geometry

Life and Geometry

The Barbican Centre, London, presents Zarah Hussain’s Numina. This vibrant installation provides an immersive and sensory experience for visitors, the site-specific construction accompanying Transcender, the Barbican Centre’s season of hypnotic and psychedelic music from across the globe. Hussain’s illuminated construction consists of pyramids arranged on a five by five-meter hexagonal grid, with vivid, digital, geometric patterns mapped onto its tessellating surfaces.

The geometric patterns featured in the piece are inspired by Traditional Islamic art and culture. Customarily drawn by hand and coordinated by mathematics, the creations work to celebrate the order and structure found in the universe. Conventional Islamic artistic principles cite geometry as a graphic representation of creation and connectivity in life itself- everything comes and returns to a single source.

Drawing inspiration from Islamic heritage, Hussain presents these traditional patterns within a contemporary expression. The installations combine designs found in art and architecture with the use of modern digital art and technology- this results in the animation of an established culture, and an reimagination of timeless designs. The artist worked as an artist in residence at the Guildhall School to projection map the designs and structures.

The concept of infinite, repeating and tessellating patterns is indicative of meditational or transcendent states within the dimensions of consciousness and unconsciousness: the artist transforms the Centre into a space for internal reflection. Hussain’s sculptural installation invites visitors to lose themselves in the constantly shifting and mesmerising patterns.


Numina runs at the Barbican Centre, London, until 27 January. Find out more at:

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Zarah Hussain Numina (2016). Courtesy of the Barbican Centre.