math

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Photography

A Photographic Survey by Jessica Wynne of Chalkboards Filled by Mathematicians

October 6, 2019

Andrew LaSane

Amie Wilkinson, of the University of Chicago, at the Institut Henri Poincaré in Paris. Images courtesy of Jessica Wynne

Photographer and Fashion Institute of Technology professor Jessica Wynne has spent the last year documenting the numbers, symbols, and models drawn by mathematicians onto chalkboards. The photos capture the thought processes and physical efforts of professionals in a medium that has been largely abandoned.

Wynne tells Colossal that she enjoys photographing the dusty work surfaces because of “their beauty, mystery and the pleasure of creating a permanent document of something that is ephemeral.” The “Do Not Erase” photo series, soon to be published in a book by Princeton University Press for release in 2020, includes boards from institutions and universities around the world. Wynne hopes that viewers can appreciate the aesthetic of the worked surfaces while “simultaneously appreciating that the work on the board represents something much deeper, beyond the surface.”

Wynne adds that she feels a “kinship” with the mathematicians. “Their imagination guides them and similar to an artist they have the higher aspiration to create, discover, and find truth.” For updates on the release of her book and for more interesting photo series, head over to Jessica Wynne’s website.

Shuai Wang, Columbia University.

David Gabai, Princeton University.

Andre Neves, then at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, N.J.

Sahar Khan, Columbia University.

David Damanik, Rice University.

Institut des Hautes Etudes Scientifiques, outside Paris.

Noga Alon, Princeton University.

Alex Zhongyi Zhang, Columbia University.

Tadashi Tokieda, Stanford University.

 

 



Art Craft

Precisely Calculated Sculptural Embroideries by Devi Vallabhaneni Turn Beads and Sequins into Fields of Flowers

June 17, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Garden photographs: Todd Hellman

After a successful career in accounting and higher education entrepreneurship, Chicago-based artist Devi Vallabhaneni reconnected with her youthful passion for creativity and working with her hands. Vallabhaneni now brings together her twin interests in fashion and mathematics in her botanical beadwork. Using an algorithm she created in Excel, and working with haute couture materials like French sequins and beads, she creates dense fields of color and texture. “I innovated embroidery to be sculptural expressions that breathe new life into traditional materials, enabling them to live in unexpected spaces,” the artist explains.

Vallabhaneni works within the constraints of squares and rectangles, and more recently has moved away from abstraction and towards realism with her garden series. Inspired by fashion designer and garden enthusiast Hubert de Givenchy, Vallabhaneni situated her recent artworks in the Hollywood Hills, documenting each piece nestled amongst natural plants and flowers.

Over the past several years, the artist has delved into her creative practice with the same fervor she brought to her business career, and has completed coursework in weaving, textiles, embroidery, and apparel construction. Vallabhaneni is in the current cohort of artists in the Center Program at Chicago’s Hyde Park Art Center and is represented by Galerie Bettina von Arnim in Paris. The artist shares new work along with her wide-ranging visual inspirations on Instagram.

 

 



Design

Explore Mathematical Concepts Hands-On With a Paper Folding Kit by Kelli Anderson

May 9, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Brooklyn-based designer Kelli Anderson (previously) continues to wow us with her inventive and interactive paper creations. Anderson’s Folding Paper DIY Kit builds on mathematical concepts to provide a hands-on way to learn about the shape-shifting possibilities of this everyday material. Each kit includes eight sheets of auxetic folding patterns along with instructions for each design: the Miura-ori fold, Ron Resch’s Square Twist, a modified version of the classic Waterbomb pattern, and an experimental Sequent fold. Fun fact: this kit was inspired by a workshop Anderson designed as part of Colossal’s exhibition Inflatable at the Exploratorium! You can find the Folding Paper DIY Kit in The Colossal Shop.

 

 



Design History

A Contemporary Take on “Byrne’s Euclid” Brings Geometry to Life as a Colorful Poster

February 7, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

When he’s not working as a web designer, Nicholas Rougeux delights in interpreting data visually. His latest creation is a celebration of Byrne’s Euclid. The book, created in 1847 by Irish engineer Oliver Byrne is fully titled The First Six Books of the Elements of Euclid in which Coloured Diagrams and Symbols are Used Instead of Letters for the Greater Ease of Learners. It illustrated parts of Euclid’s Elements, which the Greek mathematician is credited with writing in 300 B.C. The thirteen-book collection established geometry, number theory, and other core concepts still in use today.

For Rougeux’s version, the designer carefully reproduced each colorful, eye-catching design with geometric accuracy, and arranged and labeled them as they appear in Byrne’s book within the framework of a scaleable poster. The poster can be ordered in a variety of sizes via Rougeux’s website.

You can learn more here about Rougeaux’s painstaking process of translating the 172-year-old book into a contemporary print. See more of the Chicago-based designer’s data-driven creations, ranging from weather portraits of U.S. cities to an interpretation of Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours, on Behance.

 

 



Art Design

Unendurable Line: A Fun Short Film Tracks the Movement of Everyday Objects as a Real-Time Graph

September 5, 2017

Christopher Jobson

There’s simply no compelling way to describe this unusual short film from director Daihei Shibata which attempts to plot the movement of everyday objects such as a light switch or a spring as a real-time graph. Sibata explains this as a film that expresses “the various thresholds hidden in everyday life.” OK, interesting enough, but when paired with a score by the EX NOVO Chamber Choir—turn up the volume—it suddenly becomes completely amazing. I’d love to see a whole series of these. If you like this, all check out The Beauty of Mathematics. (via The Awesomer)

 

 



Craft

Super Satisfying Video of a Woodcarver Making ‘Fibonacci’ Spiral Shavings

April 18, 2017

Christopher Jobson

In this all too brief video woodworker Paul Sellers gives us a close-up view as he creates a number of ultra satisfying ‘Fibonacci’ spiral shavings. Between the soothing music, camerawork, and the mathematical perfection of each spiral as it rises from the wood, I could watch something like this all day. Somebody call somebody and turn this into an episode of Slow TV? (via Boing Boing, The Awesomer)

 

 



Design

A mesmerizing pendulum wave demonstration with 16 bowling balls in a North Carolina forest

September 9, 2014

Christopher Jobson

balls-2

If you’ve ever been to a science museum or taken a physics class, you’ve probably encountered an example of a pendulum wave. This video shows a large-scale pendulum wave contraption built on private property in the mountains of North Carolina, near Burnsville. The mechanism relies on 16 precisely hung bowling balls on a wooden frame that swing in hypnotic patterns for a cycle of about 2 minute and 40 seconds. Via Maria Ikenberry who filmed the clip:

The length of time it takes a ball to swing back and forth one time to return to its starting position is dependent on the length of the pendulum, not the mass of the ball. A longer pendulum will take longer to complete one cycle than a shorter pendulum. The lengths of the pendula in this demonstration are all different and were calculated so that in about 2:40, the balls all return to the same position at the same time – in that 2:40, the longest pendulum (in front) will oscillate (or go back and forth) 50 times, the next will oscillate 51 times, and on to the last of the 16 pendula which will oscillate 65 times.

Because the piece is outdoors, a number of factors prevent the balls from precisely lining up at the end, but it’s still easy to get the idea. In a perfectly controlled environment you get something like this.

Update: The pendulum was built by Appalachian State University teacher and artist Jeff Goodman.