Mathematics exhibition at Fondation Cartier, Paris

 A Beautiful Elsewhere is a new exhibition at the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain in Paris
Mathematics: A Beautiful Elsewhere is a new exhibition at the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain in Paris. Bringing together prominent mathematicians and well-known artists like Takeshi Kitano and David Lynch, the show aims to take visitors on a visual journey through mathematical thought. This piece, titled ’O Paraiso’, is by Beatriz Milhazes
(Image credit: Beatriz Milhazes)

Mathematicians have a tendency to wax lyrical about the 'beauty' and 'elegance' of their discipline. For the most part, this is a tricky concept for the layman to grasp. The enigmatic glamour of prime numbers, for example, is beyond the ken of most of us. But Mathematics: A Beautiful Elsewhere - a new exhibition at the Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain (opens in new tab) - aims to translate the mysterious allure of maths to a wider audience, with a little help from artists like David Lynch, Patti Smith (opens in new tab) and Takeshi Kitano (opens in new tab).

The exhibition, developed in association with the Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques (opens in new tab) (IHÉS), takes visitors on a journey through mathematical thought, guided by six of its most prominent figures: Sir Michael Atiyah (opens in new tab), Alain Connes (opens in new tab), Nicole El Karoui (opens in new tab), Misha Gromov, Cédric Villani (opens in new tab) and Don Zagier (opens in new tab) - world authorities in fields such as number theory, algebraic geometry, differential geometry and probability.

These eminent eggheads have been invited to come up with new ways of 'seeing, hearing, doing, thinking and interpreting mathematics'. But while there's no doubting the superiority of their grey matter, the assumption is that they might need a hand when it comes to making themselves understood to the average maths dunce.

To help them communicate their brain-meltingly complex ideas, Fondation Cartier has teamed these experts up with eight artists - Jean-Michel Alberola (opens in new tab), Raymond Depardon (opens in new tab) and Claudine Nougaret, Takeshi Kitano, David Lynch, Beatriz Milhazes (opens in new tab), Patti Smith (opens in new tab) and Hiroshi Sugimoto (opens in new tab) - with the goal of translating aspects of their subject into tangible experiences in a range of media.

David Lynch, for example, has created a structure in the shape of a zero to accommodate Misha Gromov's Library of Mysteries, which provides a retrospective of the major events in the history of mathematics via an audiovisual installation.

Lynch also contributed to 'Ergo-Robots/Flowers Fields: Artificial Curiosity and Language', an interactive installation that sees a 'tribe' of robotic figures emerging from an egg and then exploring their environment, learning new skills and communicating with their human visitors. The robots' heads, which Lynch designed, have a distinct touch of Eraserhead about them.

Arguably the most germane of all the exhibition's installations, however, is Hiroshi Sugimoto's graceful sculpture, a hyperbolic form entitled 'Surface of revolution with constant negative curvature' - which poses the thorny question underpinning this entire project: how can mathematical abstraction be represented visually?

’Fireplace’ is an animated film created for the exhibition

’Fireplace’ is an animated film created for the exhibition by David Lynch

(Image credit: David Lynch)

A still from 'Fireplace'

A still from ’Fireplace’

(Image credit: David Lynch)

A still from 'Fireplace''

A still from 'Fireplace''

(Image credit: David Lynch)

'Galaxy' is a second animated film created for the exhibition

’Galaxy’ is a second animated film created for the exhibition by David Lynch

(Image credit: David Lynch)

Still from 'Galaxy'

Still from 'Galaxy'

(Image credit: David Lynch)

Still from ’Galaxy’

Still from ’Galaxy’

(Image credit: David Lynch)

A still from the film 'Mathematical paradises

A still from the film ’Mathematical paradises’, by Beatriz Milhazes, depicting Heat Diffusion (Fourier’s equation)

(Image credit: Beatriz Milhazes)

A still from the film 'Mathematical paradises

A still from the film ’Mathematical paradises’, by Beatriz Milhazes, depicting Sea Waves (wave equation)

(Image credit: Beatriz Milhazes)

A still from the film 'Mathematical paradises' depicting Sea Waves

A still from the film ’Mathematical paradises’, by Beatriz Milhazes, depicting Sea Waves (wave equation)

(Image credit: Beatriz Milhazes)

Hiroshi Sugimoto’s aluminum and mirror sculpture ’Conceptual

Hiroshi Sugimoto’s aluminum and mirror sculpture ’Conceptual Form 011: Surface of revolution with constant negative curvature’ poses the question: how can mathematical abstraction be represented visually?

(Image credit: Hiroshi Sugimoto)

'Conceptual Form 011: Surface of revolution with constant negative curvature'

’Conceptual Form 011: Surface of revolution with constant negative curvature’ by Hiroshi Sugimoto

(Image credit: Hiroshi Sugimoto)

’Conceptual Form 011: Surface of revolution with constant negative curvature’ by Hiroshi Sugimoto

’Conceptual Form 011: Surface of revolution with constant negative curvature’ by Hiroshi Sugimoto

(Image credit: Hiroshi Sugimoto)

'Ergo-Robots/Flowers Fields: Artificial Curiosity and Language'

’Ergo-Robots/Flowers Fields: Artificial Curiosity and Language’ - an interactive installation that sees a ’tribe’ of robotic figures emerging from an egg and then exploring their environment, learning new skills and communicating with their human visitors

(Image credit: David Lynch)

The ’Ergo-Robots/Flowers Fields’ project came about as the result of an encounter between Oudeyer

Coordinated by Pierre-Yves Oudeyer, the ’Ergo-Robots/Flowers Fields’ project came about as the result of an encounter between Oudeyer, mathematician Mikhail Gromov and David Lynch. It was realised by INRIA Flowers in collaboration with University of Bordeaux

(Image credit: David Lynch)

Ergo-Robots/Flowers Fields’ explores fundamental questions about the nature of humans and machines

’Ergo-Robots/Flowers Fields’ explores fundamental questions about the nature of humans and machines. Based on recent advanced models of autonomous learning inspired by human infant development, the robots progressively acquire new skills, discover ways to communicate, and organise their own culture

(Image credit: David Lynch)

The heads and the environment of the Ergo-robots - with inspiration

David Lynch designed the heads and the environment of the Ergo-robots - with inspiration, we imagine, from his cult 1977 film Eraserhead

(Image credit: David Lynch)

ADDRESS

Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain
261, boulevard Raspail
75014 Paris

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