“The difference between a mountain and a molehill is your perspective.”
- Al Neuharth
Does the mathematics of perspective govern art? This is a question that I found myself asking when presented with this week’s lecture topic of perspective. It’s all very mathematical indeed, giving precise, functional instructions for creating a work of art. It’s a societal influence, too. In real-life art we are conditioned to expect certain things from our surroundings. Architecture, for example. Sure there are deviations and artistic embellishments but do we ever see such innovation as we see in abstract art brought to life on the streets?
I came across a few examples and they range from extremely dramatic to subtle but effective. These are the same kinds of tricks that M.C. Escher played on his audience with his sketches. At first glance his drawings seem to have great depth and flawless dimensions until, after careful review, it seems that the dimensions are skewed. Often times the staircase will run in horizontal loops or water will run uphill in a way that is quite unexpected. This used the principles of perspective while betraying those very same principles. Much like these two buildings:
They employ all principles of a sturdy structure and yet they betray those very same rules that govern much of today’s architecture.
In much the same sense, a lot of art is about the unexpected. One does not expect a building to be turned on it’s head, and one does not expect to find a Golden Ratio or a Fibonacci Sequence that governs the growth patterns and visual qualities of most things in our natural world.
- A more mainstream but just as fresh look on architecture.
A triangle is the strongest, most efficient geometrical shape. A circle is the only shape that will not collapse upon itself. Mathematics explains these.
A fresh perspective can lead to a new form of art. Cubism and minimalism can be governed by mathematics, as can ballet and architecture.
This coincides with last week’s focus on the separation of two cultures. They truly are not as polarized as we may think. It simply takes perspective to appreciate the ways that art and science complement each other.
Photography would be considered by most to be an art form. However, some may not realize how much photography obeys the laws of mathematics and perspectives. Perspective can change a plain picture of a fence to an intriguing display of point of view and symmetrical design.
In a nutshell, how we view the world is absolutely individual. It’s subjective. It is much the same as our individual capacity to understand thermodynamics and our personal appreciation for aesthetics and passionate arts.
Is it a molehill or a mountain? Depends how tall you are.