We enter a virtual room, full of symmetrical sculptures set against the backdrop of the interior of a building with white walls and lit by track lighting…
Opus 980011 displays curves in a cubic lattice. From the first perspective, we see symmetry that is diagonally reflected. In Perspective 2, it looks like a relatively simple sculpture, with two, half-circle like curves on the top and bottom, and two curves jutting from each of the half circles. But, back in Perspective 1, we see many interwoven curves that weren’t in view in Perspective 2. Then, when looked at in yet another perspective, we see the same curves but in a new way. Each perspective looks as if it could be a new piece entirely! Our sense of perspective has exploded; this journey through symmetry has begun.
Though we are viewing this online, as with all sculpture we are very conscious of the materials used to make the work. Opus 980011 itself looks as though it’s made of copper, with bits of blue-green patina dotted on the surface—which occurs when copper is exposed to oxygen overtime. Not all sculptures in the exhibits look as though they’re made of copper—they vary in color and material. Some pieces look like they’re made of metal, with some displaying rust, while others are bright and solid yellows and reds, as well as black.
There are two exhibits: MoMath and Musée Tesseract. When going through both, we see symmetry in a variety of ways. In the MoMath exhibit, we tour Polylines, Spirals, Knots, Moblüs, Stars, and more.
The second exhibit, Musée Tesseract, shows some of the same sculptures that we see in MoMath, but now they are in a virtual, but architecturally significant background. For example, we see a white staircase with a red carpet leading up to the Koos Pythagorean Fractal Tree—a sculpture that is labeled as an ode to Koos Verhoeff, the artist’s mentor. The sculpture itself is black and shiny, with many dendrite-like branches extending from it. Behind Koos Pythagorean Fractal Tree, we see a series of windows that let in light. All of this combines to convey a feeling of infinity— there is both simplicity and complexity portrayed through the symmetry, like in an infinity symbol. Most of the other pieces within the Musée Tesseract are large and sit atop marble blocks, and the room itself is filled with white pillars, giving each the feel of a classic sculpture one might see in Rome.
The virtual exhibit is well set-up to show us various perspectives, in this writer’s opinion. We have two ways to navigate the exhibits, either self or auto-navigation, with the latter showing the specific perspectives, while the former allows the viewer to do it manually (although in auto-navigation the viewer can use manual as well). The virtual format allows for certain vantage points that the viewer might not have seen if seeing the exhibit in person.
National Museum of Mathematics Shows Symmetry Found in Nature, Technology, and at The Atomic Level
These are not random scenes of symmetry either—each one is in some way inspired by nature. At the beginning of the exhibit, before we see any sculptures, we get a statement by the artist, Anton Bakker. Here he explains that he hopes to use technology to express the beauty of symmetry found in atomic lattices. Expanding, he states that we humans have a subconscious attraction to symmetry, and how this in turn means we can all see natural patterns and symmetries as an integral part of present-day technology.
These exhibits are an especially good fit for anyone interested in the intersection of mathematics and visual art, and the patterns that this intersection creates.
WHEN: Now – Open Ended Run
WHERE: Register at the National Museum of Mathematics website
Artist: Anton Bakker; Images courtesy of the National Museum of Mathematics
About the Author: Nichole Gould
Today, she does things a little differently and her writing covers topics of disillusionment, nature, family, homecoming, and growth. She attempts to tackle these topics in an experimental and dreamy way, through both nonfiction and fiction, and sometimes, when she’s feeling confident, poetry. Nichole also spent a semester in Oregon, studying writing and hiking among the moss. Although she misses traveling, she enjoys exploring the magic of the Great Lakes in her home state of Michigan. When she’s not writing or traveling, you can find her reading, bookstore hopping, looking for her dream job as a recent grad, or hanging out with her 16-year-old cat, Kyle.