Blue Collar Mathematics

Thanks to Jacob Mohler for sharing this video with me. This call to embody mathematics comes from Satyan Devadoss, Fletcher Jones Professor of Applied Mathematics at the University of San Diego. The video is from the 2018 Culture Care Summit, where the Fuller Theological Seminary Brehm Center director Mako Fujimura hosted a conversation on culture care in education, journalism, and more. Learn more about the Brehm Center here: www.brehmcenter.com.

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Geometry and Art

I’ve written before about the relationship between mathematics and art.

Here is a great article from the New York Times on an art showing at the Museum of Modern Art. The artist is Dorothea Rockburne and the title of the exhibit is “Drawing Which Makes Itself.” Below is an image from the article and a few interesting quotes.

Spend an afternoon dipping in and out of galleries on the Lower East Side, and you are likely to encounter many examples of geometric abstraction — much of it offhand and whimsical. But if you want to see the work of an artist who cares deeply about geometry, pay a visit to Dorothea Rockburne’s austere, bracing exhibition of drawings at the Museum of Modern Art. The difference is instructive.

Ms. Rockburne, 81, studied with the German mathematician Max Dehn at Black Mountain College in North Carolina in the early 1950s. He taught her “mathematics for artists,” with an emphasis on forms found in nature; ideas from group theory, topology and non-Euclidean geometry drive her art, as do ratios like the Golden Mean, that staple of Renaissance art and architecture that used to determine pleasing proportioning within an artwork.

The best of this show, though, is the set of early drawings: the ones that “make themselves,” with a little help from an artist who understands that all art, abstract or not, boils down to geometry.

Corpus Hypercubus

Courtesy of the Association of Christians in the Mathematical Sciences:

Salvador Dali’s painting Corpus Hypercubus (1954) is a fascinating visual representation of a mathematical metaphor for the theological mystery of crucifixion.

Corpus Hypercubus, Salvador Dali (1954)

Many people are familiar with how to unfold a cube from three dimensions into two as shown in the figures below. Some of the edges of the cube are separated so that the resulting collection of squares can be unfolded into a planar shape. The resulting diagram is called a “net” for the cube. The net is not unique but one common net resembles a cross.

Dali painted the cross in Corpus Hypercubus as a hypercube unfolded into 3-dimensional space. The hypercube consists of eight three-dimensional cubes for hyperfaces. Each hyperface is attached along a two-dimensional square face to six of the other hyperfaces. Just as one can unfold a cube, one can also unfold a hypercube into the shape depicted in Dali’s painting.

Using the analogy of a (mysterious) higher-dimensional object unfolded into three dimensions, Dali depicts the theological mystery of the crucifixion as an event that originated in a higher plane of existence and then unfolded into the world that we perceive. With this understanding, Corpus Hypercubus communicates the idea that though one can discuss the necessity of the Jesus’ sacrifice for salvation or study theological ramifications of the cross, one can only do so by analogy because human nature simply cannot perceive the scope of God’s plan.

More from the ACMS: