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.
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.
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.
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.
Anish Kapoor at the Peabody Essex Museum
Anish Kapoor’s wall sculpture “Halo” is currently on display in the atrium of the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts.
The stainless steel construction from 2006 is a concave disc with accordion type folds.The narrow circular sections come together in 90 degree pleated folds.
Although the stainless steel has a mirror reflective finish, when you stand in front of “Halo” you do not see your reflection. The angles of the mirrored sections face away from the viewer.
Kapoor demonstrates interesting phenomena of concave surfaces, as well as the principles of folding within a circle.
Megan Cotts at Junior Projects Gallery
For its inaugural exhibition, Junior Projects Gallery is having a group show titled “it’s a poor craftsman who blames his tools”, which features work that are handmade. Each piece shows the hand of the artist but still preserves precision either of form or content. On display is the work of Megan Cotts whose work is both mathematical as well as historically biographical. Cotts great-great grandfather designed intricate paper decorations in Germany during the early 20th Century. His work included the development of the system to create the honey comb type of paper structures we still see today, like the paper pumpkin I have that folds flat and then at Halloween opens up to make a round 3D pumpkin. The designs and patents were lost to the family during the tragedy of the Holocaust. The designs were used by others for architectural and industrial purposes. The original paper products were machine made, but Cotts hand stitches fabric to recreate the folded forms. The titles of these works are the original German patent numbers for the designs.
In “DE426689A Fig.3”, ten box pleats of folded linen are stitched at five even intervals. The top and bottom two intervals just attach adjacent strips together.The middle set of stitches pinch the strips in half, revealing a background linen canvas and creating an interesting elongated diamond pattern. Both the folded strips and the background are painted in horizontal stripes.The viewer is aware that this is a hand made work but there is an exactitude to the structure so the under lying mathematics is still visible.
Cotts’ “DE426689A Fig.2” seems to be made by first creating 11 vertical box pleats. Then, the folded strips are pinched three times each, creating an undulating wave pattern. There is a branch-like painted pattern that is slightly distorted by the pleats and pinches. In making this work the artist is using the visual language of mathematics: lines, divisions, numbers, curves and a process of handwork, fold, stitch, paint, and creating a moving expression of the design heritage of her family.
– Susan Happersett