Math Art in Finland

Last week the Bridges organization held their annual conference in Jyväskylä, Finland. This international conference features lectures and workshops that highlight the connections between mathematics, music, art, architecture, education and culture. My favorite part of the five day event is the art exhibition. This year there was a wide range of styles, techniques and mediums on display. it is difficult to select only a few for this blog but I will try.

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Sharol Nau

Sharol Nau repurposes unwanted hard cover books to create sculptures that contain parabolas. A parabola is a curve with reflective symmetry, in which each point on the curve is the same distance from a fixed focus point and a fixed line. The artist  carefully measures and folds each page to the common focus point. The resulting portable sculpture preserves the exterior shape of the book but creates a new visual story for the interior.

 

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Nithikul Nimkulrat – “Black & White Striped Knots” – Knotted paper – 2015

Nithikul Nimkulrat hand-knots sculptures using paper string. Inspired by mathematical knot diagrams, the artist employs two colors of string to better indicate the positions of each stand within the knot structures.”Black & White Striped Knots”examines properties of knotted textiles.

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Nithikul Nimkulrat – “Black & White Striped Knots” – Knotted paper – 2015 (Detail)

Looking closely at the work, the circular patterns emerge. Overlapping circles cross to form four equal arcs. This creates a series of monotone circles with the arcs of adjacent circles forming a pattern with order-4 rotational symmetry. Nimkulrat’s intricate structure is a wonderful exploration of the mathematical possibilities in textile and fiber art.

Susan Happersett

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“Explode Every Day” at MASS MoCA

The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary is featuring an 11 month exhibition titled “Explode Every Day – An Inquiry into the Phenomena of Wonder”. This title is in reference to the Ray Bradbury quote:

You remain invested in your inner child by exploding every day. You don’t worry about the future, you don’t worry about the past-you just explode.

(from Sam Weller, Listen to the echoes: The Ray Bradbury Interviews, 2010)

This exhibition is a reaction to our current, fast, information society. It challenges the viewer slow down and take in less information but experience it in a deeper way. The Institute for Figuring and Margaret Wertheim designed paper cards that can be folded to build fractal structures. They use the techniques of Dr Jeannine Mosely’s business card origami. The IFF is known for their work with Hyperbolic geometry and the crocheted coral projects. This work takes on new mathematically influences.

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“Fractal Ruins”, 2016

This wall piece named “Fractal Ruins” illustrates some basic forms each with order-4 rotational symmetry, but their sculptures can take on much more complex fractals as well as experiments in randomness.

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“Krypton Relativity”, 2015

Situated above one of the gallery entrances Rachel Sussman’s neon formula “Krypton Relativity” asks us to explore the aesthetic qualities of Mathematical and scientific formulae. The krypton gas gives a natural glow highlighting the purely visual elements of the work. The need to understand the information contained with in the symbols is not a requirement to appreciate its beauty. This sign acts as an invitation to explore the scientific subject matter and the means of communicating the data on a different level.

Susan Happersett

“But a Storm is Blowing from Paradise” at The Guggenheim

I am always looking for exhibitions that reference the sociological implications of Mathematics in art. As I walked into this exhibition at the Guggenheim and read the introductory wall text I was immediately intrigued.  Here is a portion of that text written by Sara Raza, (UBS MAP Curator, Middle East and North Africa):

But a Storm is blowing from Paradise: Contemporary Art of the Middle East and North Africa, which is presented on Tower Levels 4 and 5, focuses on geometry as a tool for the illumination of creative historical and philosophical inquiry. While rooted in the mathematical “thinking sciences” geometry is used here as a conduit for theories around logic and the origin of meaning.

The artists in this exhibition have referenced social issues through a geometric perspective.

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This  2011 stainless steel and rubber installation by Nadia Kaabi-Linke titled “Flying Carpets” is based on the rectangular dimensions of carpets used by illegal street vendors to display and quickly carry away the wares they are selling to tourists in Venice Italy. Many of the vendors came from Africa and the Middle East and have traveled to Europe for a better, safer life. The title alludes to this exotic notion of travel on a Flying Carpet. Although the visual aesthetic is a complex geometric abstraction, it is merely the vehicle to express the plight of refugees.

Susan Happersett