Week 2_The Fourth Dimension and a Change in Perspective by Beverly Okereke

Buckminster Fuller and his famous Geodesic Dome

Buckminster Fuller and his famous Geodesic Dome

What does a simple playground, Walt Disney, and the vast world of science and mathematics have in common?

This week Professor Vesna talked about the Fourth dimension, mentioning several artists and exceptional thinkers who have contributed to a realm that most would consider quite unconventional.  This realm lying outside the confiedes of normal reality, makes the regular 3-dimensional world look primitive.

One particular man that I personally saw as interesting  that the professor mentioned in lecture was Buckminster Fuller. Fuller, born towards the end of the 19th century, wanted nothing more than to answer one of life’s most complex of questions about survival and longevity. How long would we as a human race survive on this planet? Devoting his life to this question, he wrote many books, and created many inventions, including his most famous, the geodesic dome, which is still used in a variety of instances today.  Although Fuller himself was not exactly the first to use this geodesic design, he was the first to have it patented.

One instance in which Fuller’s dome is still used today answers the aforementioned question of how a playground is related to science. Compare these two pictures, for instance:

3D Representation of a Geodesic Dome

3D Representation of a Geodesic Dome

A Dome Climber Jungle Gym
 Look similar? Well they should.  The design of the two look exactly the same. The design for this simple addition to a child’s backyard paradise matches the Fuller’s patented geodesic design.  It is also similar to Walt Disney World Resort’s EPCOT and variety of other structures. Can you think of any more?    

Walt Disney World Resorts EPCOT

Walt Disney World Resort's EPCOT

Linda Dalrymple Henderson’s The Fourth Dimension and Non-Euclidean Geometry in Modern Art: Conclusion, the reading for this week, dealt with the idea of a “Fourth Dimension” is associated with the idea of modernism,surrealism, and Einstein’s theory of relativity. In this time, the late 19th to early 20th centuries, was very important in relation to the art world. It ushered in a new era for the world of art, playing a significant role in the nurturing and “development of modern art and theory”. By inspiring artists such as the cubists, modernists, futurists, and surrealists, among others.  The idea did not only relate to art, however. It also dealt with science as well, linking ideas such as Einstein’s Theory of Relativity (Space-time Relativity Theory) to the movement in the earlier half of the 20th century.    

Space-Time Continuum

Space-Time Continuum

Einstein Theory of Relativity

Einstein' Theory of Relativity

 

Einstein’s Theory had much to do with the perception of the fourth dimension as time.  As the pioneer of his time in Germany, Einstein’s ideas and discoveries changed the way the whole world viewed the universe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The idea of a fourth dimension flawlessly mixes the idea of art with science, technology, and mathematics.  Drawing off of Einstein’s famous theory comes another idea that existed around the time of the “Fourth Dimension”: “Non-Euclidian Geometry”. Einstein’s theory describes space as generally flat (i.e., Euclidean), but elliptically curved (i.e., non-Euclidean) in areas near where matter is present.  Remember those geodesic domes from before? Well, they can be described as a form of hyperbolic non-Euclidian geometry, which, again, is a significant way to describe the mathematical implications of time and space in relativity.

My favorite example of hyperbolic sculpture is the “Hypar” in the California Science Center. Created by Chuck Hoberman in 1996, this amazing 5-story sculpture expands and contracts continuously during the day, changing the viewers perspective of the sculpture every time it make another move. It is a  5,000-pound aluminum structure, and is known as the Hypar for its hyperbolic paraboloid shape, expanding from a diameter of 15 feet to 50 feet, with the motion of its 2,500 aluminum links controlled by a computer at the sculpture’s base:

 

Chuck Hobermans Hypar in the California Science Center

Chuck Hoberman's "Hypar" in the California Science Center

 

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