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Archival inkjet print, 12.5" x 12.5", 2010
Magic squares are numerical arrays that have substructures with constant sums. This design is based on a magic square of order 25, containing the numbers from 0 to 624. Each row, column, and main diagonal sums to the “magic constant” of 7800. The numbers in the magic square are represented by a visual base-5 system: four concentric squares serve as the 1, 5, 25, and 125 places, while shades of grey stand for the numerals 0 to 4. Coding the numbers into their base-5 versions yields a pattern of 625 unique, nested-squares in shades of grey. This particular magic square also has a substructure of 25 mini-squares of size 5. Each of these mini-squares is “magic” (although the numbers are not consecutive), with rows, columns, and diagonals summing to 1560. In addition, certain other groups of 5 squares add up to 1560. Examples are the quincunx and the plus-sign shapes (when fully contained in a mini-square). The colored accents are used to indicate a few of these “magic” substructures. --- Margaret Kepner