Sunday, June 26, 2016

Week 1: Math + Art

Math and art have been long connected disciplines. The renaissance marked a revolutionary moment in Western culture in which mathematics was used to create more dimensional and realistic art. Artists such as Brunelleschi, Giotto, and Leonardo Da Vinci examined how mathematics could help artists create more aesthetically pleasing and complex paintings, by further developing the concepts of perspectives, shadows and vanishing points. Studies such as the the Vitruvian man by Leonardo Da Vinci, would inspire architects 400 years later like Le Corbusier to make buildings that had similar proportions to that of human anatomy.  
Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vitruvian man made in 140 56-732120-1420825779a72b8dfcc4e34c139422180ff7b8db8d.jpg
Le Corbusier’s Palace of Assembly made in 1947 in Chandigarh

M.C. Escher, an artist who came up during the age of modern art, used the skills that renaissance artists had developed to push the boundaries of people's perception of reality. Many of his works are optical illusion that make the observer question whether or not his art is depicting reality, fiction, or both. His lithograph, Relativity, shows a room in which the staircases seem to never end. As the viewer looks closer at the image, the staircase seems as if they are constantly beginning and ending.
Escher’s lithograph, relativity, made in 1953

Escher’s work has inspired modern day video game producers Ustwo to create a game in 2014 called Monument Valley. This video game uses Escher's visual style to create optical illusions while the game is played. Throughout the game, staircases, doors, and bridges can be moved to create passageways that were otherwise impossible moments before.

Trailer for the video game monument Valley from 2014

Math and art have allowed evolution of one another. Without math, art would have never been able to evolve to its complex, abstract and realistic nature that it has become today.


"Biography." Last modified 2016. Accessed June 26, 2016.

Escher, M. C. Relativity. 1953. Photograph.

Frantz, Marc. "The Mathematical Art of M.C. Escher." Last modified 2000. Accessed June 26, 2016.

Le Corbusier. Palace of Assembly. Photograph. Accessed June 26, 2016.

"" Video file. Youtube. Posted by Uconlineprogram, April 9, 2012. Accessed June 24, 2016.

"Release Trailer - Monument Valley Game - out now." Video file. Youtube. Posted by Millsustwo, April 2, 2014. Accessed June 26, 2016.

Vinci, Leonardo Da. The Vitruvian Man. Photograph. Accessed June 26, 2016.

Williams, Christopher M., trans. "A Dangerous Divide: The Two Cultures of the 21st Century." Last modified July 24, 2009. Accessed June 25, 2016.

Week 1: Two Cultures

The separation between art and science originates from C.P. Snow’s book titled The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution. In his book, Snow examined how the curriculums of schools have separated the literary and the scientific fields inhibiting people to gain full knowledge of both topics. His initial goal was to draw a distinction between the rich and the poor, but his writing was interpreted as creating a separation between literary and scientific disciplines. Snow stated that there are, “literary intellectuals at one pole --- at the other scientists… Between the two a gulf of mutual incomprehension -- sometimes hostility and dislike, but most of all, a lack of understanding.” Snow points out that the stereotypes of literary intellectuals and scientists have been a result of misunderstandings rather than truth.

During the industrial revolution, schools in America separated groups from one another in order to create students who had specialties that could be implemented in jobs. Math and science have a history of being grouped together while english and visual arts have been considered similar within schools. Although this method allowed for people to create targeted jobs 200 years ago, it is unable to meet the requirements for modern day jobs and students. Multiple students find themselves in a third culture, a hybrid of both scientific and artistic thinkers. These students are being told that there is only one way to reach an answer rather than allowing students to think outside of the box.  This stunts new ideas in schools and ostracizes students who feel they do not belong in only one of the two categories.
My school, Harvard-Westlake, has implemented geographical separations between the visual arts classrooms and science classrooms, similar to UCLA’s campus. However, through the introduction of a classroom dedicated to S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Art, and Mathematics), the school has begun bridging the gap between these two disciplines. S.T.E.A.M. encourages students to use visually stimulating ways to convey scientific studies. This is a progressive way for schools to introduce visual arts with science and technology.
Harvard Westlake birds eye view.jpg
Map of the Harvard Westlake campus

In Victoria Vesna’s book, Toward a Third Culture: Being in between, she examines how, “Artists using technology are uniquely positioned in the middle of the scientific and literary/philosophical communities… and indeed contribute to the creation of a new, mutant third culture.”
The introduction of S.T.E.A.M. has changed the very stereotype of artists. A typical artist is depicted as a lonesome, poor, and slightly detached person who paints, draws, or sculpts. However, the image of artists has evolved to be web designers and architects. These disciplines require an understanding of both mathematics and visual art to convey their ideas, showing that these two cultures should not be considered separate but subsets of one another.
Stereotypical artist
Modern day Architect

"Art vs Science: CP Snow’s Two Cultures Debate 50 Years on." Video file.
    Youtube. Posted by University of Hertfordshire, October 20, 2015. Accessed
    June 26, 2016. http://In Victoria Vesna’s book, Toward a Third Culture:
    Being in between, she examines how, “Artists using technology are
    uniquely positioned in the middle of the scientific and literary/
    philosophical communities… and indeed contribute to the creation of a new,
    mutant third culture.”.

Snow, C. P. The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution. New York: Cambridge
    University Press, 1961.

Vesna, Victoria. "Toward A Third Culture: Being In Between". Leonardo, JSTOR. Web. 2 April 2016.

"RSA ANIMATE: Changing Education Paradigms." Video file. Youtube. Posted by
    Victoria The RSA, October 14, 2010. Accessed June 26, 2016.

Architect at Work. Photograph. Accessed June 26, 2016.

The Artist at Work. Photograph. Accessed June 26, 2016.