Saturday, June 25, 2016

Math + Art

This week’s lecture by Professor Vesna focused on the impact that math and art have had on each other throughout history and present day. I have always had an interest in how almost everything in the world could be explained with some sort of mathematical combination. How data could be mapped out and manipulated to offer many insights to the world, like how Amazon has a feature that sends a customer items automatically based on past transactions. Another example I’ve been interested in is how any class of student’s grades could be represented accurately by a normal distribution curve. I have never looked too deeply into these ideas, but this week’s content offered some really interesting insights into how closely art and math complement each other.

Linda Dalrymple Henderson’s “The Fourth Dimension and Non-Euclidian Geometry in Modern Art,” explains how the idea of a fourth dimension was a huge impact among artists in the first three decades of the twentieth century. It astonishes me how these artists represented and argued for this idea that still holds many questions today. How do you represent the fourth dimension in an artistic piece? Many fantastic artworks tackle this abstract framework, like this artwork of Jesus by Salvador Dali called, "Corpus Hypercubes." Dali puts Jesus on a hypercube cross, fusing dimensional space science with religion. It seems paradoxical at first to think of artists representing the fourth dimension, as art is supposed to minimize our third dimensional world onto a lesser two dimensional medium. One example that resonated with me was that of Dominguez who used a lion to explain his idea that time is the primary definition of the fourth dimension, putting the lion into a manipulative frame that encompasses its life from birth to death, creating a super lion. 


I was fairly familiar with the Mandelbrot set from high school math classes, but never did we analyze it from an artistic perspective. It’s amazing how math can be seen anywhere in the world, especially in the Mandelbrot set, a fairly simple mathematical formula (z = z^2 + c), containing an infinite amount of geometric shapes. Theoretically, if the Mandelbrot set is infinite, then every shape and pattern in the universe could be contained in this one simple set of variables that make up an abstract piece of art.


Henderson, Linda Dalrymple. "The Fourth Dimension and Non-Euclidean Geometry in Modern Art: Conclusion." Leonardo 17.3 (1984): 205-10. Web. 10 Apr. 2016.

Vesna, Victoria. “Mathematics.” Lecture. CoLE DESMA 9. Web. <>.

"The Fourth Dimension in Painting: Cubism and Futurism." The Peacocks Tail. N.p., 2011. Web. 25 June 2016.

"Unveiling the Mandelbrot Set." N.p., n.d. Web. 25 June 2016.

"Mandelbrot Set." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 25 June 2016.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Two Cultures

I am currently studying managerial economics at UC Davis and have always been interested in the sciences, particularly space exploration. As an economics major I am intrigued by this week’s readings and lectures introducing the idea that arts and humanities are more related to science than today’s society thinks.

I have never noticed the geographical segregation of different departments on the UC Davis campus. Physical science and engineering even have their own library. It's interesting how the education system reinforces this division of science and arts, making them study and work in different buildings.

I felt that among the materials reviewed this week, the essay “Toward a Third Culture: Being in Between” by Professor Vesna and the RSA animate illustrating Sir Ken Robinson’s “Changing the Education Paradigms, were two resources that really impacted my understanding. In Professor Vesna’s essay she mentions how outside of the market and academia it is impossible for artists to survive. I thought of this statement while watching Ken Robinson’s presentation that the current education system was conceived for an industrialized era.

We are a money driven society and the more things you own, or the more money you make is often thought to correlate with how well you did in school, or how intelligent you are. According to Business Insider the top 10 paying college majors are fields in engineering. This week's materials had me rethinking this idea, especially Ken Robinson's statements of today’s education system being based off of the industrial age. We live in a money driven world and the people in power reward those who can develop things that either make them more money, or give them power over other nations. For example, before it told jokes, was used to set alarms, or set a GPS location, the apple voice recognition service Siri was initially a military project of DARPA, an agency of the US Department of Defense. Scientists and engineers are heavily rewarded by the government for their ability to make things that give America a technological advantage over threatening peoples. In 2015 congress allocated 53.71% of it's discretionary spending to the military. The military doesn't employ many artists, they allocate most of their budget on research and development, which is the scientists and engineers.

The fact that science was a term derived from art, had me thinking that there are different kinds of intelligence, none better than the other, and I think that if we coordinate science and art together, we as a society would be better able to solve some of the world’s most threatening issues.


Snow, C. P. “Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution.” Reading. 1959. New York: Cambridge UP, 1961. Print.

Vesna, Victoria. "Toward a Third Culture: Being In Between." Leonardo. 34 (2001): 121-125. Print.

"Federal Spending: Where Does the Money Go." National Priorities Project. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 June 2016.

"UCDAVIS :: UNIVERSITY LIBRARY." Location. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 June 2016.

"Infographic: Engineering Is America's Highest-Earning Major." Statista Infographics. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 June 2016.