In search of beauty in Math and Art

Cell phone journal image taken 1/9/2018 while walking back to my studio from the Fed Ex store where I was shipping artwork to a customer.

This week for me was about thinking about creativity and identifying what photography has in common with drawing and painting.  By exploring the way in which a drawing provides simplicity, value, and the camera provides framing I was able to see where these three elements address every design element.

Simplicity addresses line and shape

Value addresses 3d Form as well as colorpattern, and texture

Framing addresses Space and movement

I have also been thinking about how we can use the subjects of our photographs to express our emotional state and as a means of visual communication.  I am reminded of this quote:

A thing is not what you say it is or what you photograph it to be or what you paint it to be or what you sculpt it to be. Words, photographs, paintings, and sculptures are symbols of what you see, think, and feel things to be, but they are not the things themselves. -Wynn Bullock

In addition to this I was reflecting on my own work and revisiting the concept fractals and the role they play in triggering alpha waves in the brain.  Fractal Geometry is a part of math as well as art.  During the winter break I went to a used book store and came across a title called VISUAL MIND II published by MIT and yesterday I read the introduction and the first essay.  In it was an exploration of beauty within math and a series of arguments were made about what is beauty in math and how does it relate to beauty in art. 

The first definition of beauty in math was SIMPLICITY and it described numerous examples of simplicity in proofs, formulas, theorems, and axioms.  This of course took me down many rabbit holes of looking at various mathematical ideas such as Picard’s theorem of existence and uniqueness.  Perhaps this is the inspiration for the Next Generation Star Trek character but it also seemed appropriate for thinking about creativity and the desire to create a visual solution that is truly unique in its existence.

Anyway, the flow of arguments about mathematical beauty looked at simplicity as well as a pursuit of truth as well as function and the need to answer the question of “what is this good for” and then set about disproving many of these arguments before settling upon a definition of beauty that goes beyond the limitations of truth and function and settles on the concept of ENLIGHTENMENT

For math to be considered beautiful it needs to bring about a sense of enlightenment and this is what I feel photography does as well.  In my own work I am trying to elevate the spirit to a point of enlightenment that inspires wisdom and compassion.

While I am likely not to comprehend much in the essays in this book I think I will continue to wrestle with them as they have inspired new ideas about subjects I wish to photograph.  I am thinking about trying to create photographs that are illustrative of various beautiful math ideas.  

As I read this book I was reminded of another quote that I have collected:

“The opticians were right from the mathematical standpoint, and I was right from the physiological and psychological standpoints, and so it was evident there were two truths to nature – the perspective of mathematical truth and the psychological or visual truth”

“To sum up then, art is the selection, arrangement, and recording of certain facts, with the aim of giving aesthetic pleasure; and it differs from science fundamental, in that as few facts as are compatible with complete expression are chosen, and these are arranged so as to appeal to the emotional side of man’s nature, whereas the scientific facts appeal to his intellectual side.”

Peter Emerson
Naturalistic Photography, New York Scoville & Adams, 1899

Here is a video I came across this week.

Here are some of my artworks that are inspired by fractal geometry.

“Pythagoras’ Inspiration” (2017) by Ira Gardner

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