Mathematics: A Beautiful Elsewhere
January 25, 2012
Fondation Cartier in Paris is housed in a light-filled glass building which encompasses gallery spaces as well as an elegantly landscaped interior garden. Designed by Jean Nouvel, the magnificence of this structure both inside and out is reason enough to visit. But the caliber of exhibitions within the Fondation is equally impressive, as we can presently see in Mathematics: A Beautiful Elsewhere, a show devoted to exploring the abstractions of maths.
As conceptual art increasingly tends towards abstract notions that do not necessarily incorporate visual components, it seems a natural step for the Fondation Cartier to engage a group of mathematicians and artists in a discussion of abstract mathematical concepts. The desire to penetrate this discipline that governs much of contemporary life – through the development of medicine, the study of traffic systems, the design of an airplane wing – was the comprehensive goal of the curators, and the exhibition is more about inaugurating a discussion than the content involved. We are reminded that “…[maths] have been a vital part of the human adventure, contributing to the cross-fertilization of cultures, to the development of universal and productive tools of thought…” (Jean-Pierre Bourguignon)
Visitors walk through an interesting array of technology oriented experiments and presentations by collaborators such as artists Patti Smith and David Lynch, mathematician Sir Michael Atiyah, and director general of CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) Rolf Heuer. Robots whose actions are defined by human emotion-inducing algorithms are a main feature, and models of virtual space are abound; one of the highlights is a recording of Patti Smith singing mathematical texts written by Misha Gromov to a soundtrack by David Lynch. The mathematicians contributing to this discussion have had their words and musings presented in a form of poetry, and it is a pleasure to explore the interaction of these ideas.
Showing through March 18, 2012.