Week 2/The Fourth Dimension/Joseph Racca

The Concept of Zero and the Fourth Dimension

The power of zero: although in math, we see zero as the symbol that represents nothing, zero is a powerful number, well actually, not just as a number but as a symbol.  when accompanied by one, zero can make that one into ten, one hundred, or one million, etc.

When dealing with the symbol zero, we are yet again torn between two views.  Similar to the differing views of art and science, art as a science or science as an art, the concept of zero is also observed and interpreted in many ways.  For example, in lecture, Professor Vesna mentioned that zero has been ever changing, with a different meaning with each coming culture/civilization:

“Some historians favor the explanation that it is omicron, the first letter of the Greek word for nothing –”ouden”.”

“During the Middle Ages, zero was disparaged as a mark of infidel sorcery, the sign of the Devil himself [. . .] ”

“For the Mayans, Zero was the Death God”

“Only much later was zero reinterpreted as a symbol of God’s power to create a lot out of naught.”

From a symbol representing certain gods, to a symbol that represents nothing, it brings me to continue exploring the concept of zero, as we see it today.  We see zero as the value for nothing. In math, 1 minus 1 equals zero, in art the vanishing point is used as a point to where we can no longer see anything, we can call it the point of zero if you will.

In considering zero, it brings me to the question and gets me thinking about what nothing is.  In science, how do scientists explain nothingness?  I’ve heard that black holes suck up objects that are in their paths and leave nothing behind.  But in art, how does an visual artist interpret and convey nothingness?  Would it be a color or would it be an abstract piece?

In “The Fourth Dimension and Non-Euclidean Geometry in Modern Art: Conclusuion,” Henderson states that Dominguez recognized time as the primary definition of the fourth dimension.  So that leads to the question: Does time exist when nothing is present or does time just stand still?  According to Robbin and his view of the fourth dimension, it all depends on how we look at things.  “[Artists] are motivated by a desire to complete [their] subjective experience by inventing new aesthetic and conceptual capabilities.”  However, scientists, according to Robbin, “[work] simultaneously on a metaphor for space in which paradoxical three dimensional experiences are resolved only by a four dimensional space.”

So basically, in the concept of the “fourth dimension” people express their views.  This is what fourth dimension aims to uphold–a space for people to find their own perspectives, and look at things in new ways, new perspectives, which in the end leads to new ideas, concepts, inventions, and expression in both in the world of art and of science .

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