Another Dimension

Aug 26, 2010

The curriculum for the study of mathematics – in particular the study of descriptive geometry – has changed drastically over the last century with the implementation of computer technology. What was once painstakingly illustrated with pencil and paper can now be generated instantaneously with the click of a mouse. The carefully constructed drawings in Another Dimension suggest that the technical precision of mathematics and visual arts provides for many overlaps. For the student working through an assignment with pencil on paper the interdisciplinary skills employed may not be immediately recognized – the task at hand is solving a mathematical problem. But looking back at student portfolios from our current perspective, where computer technology has replaced the need to practice drafting, the result of the student’s effort is both an impressive solution to a complex problem as well as a very striking work of hand draftsmanship. The work in this exhibition was culled from Schaffer Library’s Special Collections archives of student portfolios, and is a cross-section of work from late nineteenth to early twentieth century Union students.

Mathematics and visual art have many links and the influence of geometry is emphasized in art historical analysis. While there are many texts that analyze works of art through mathematical principles and theorems, one can also look at hand drafted problems as beautiful visual objects. The images in this exhibition are intended as mathematical representations; however, when looking closely at the precise attention to detail and form, these works transcend their original purpose to become something with striking aesthetic value.

This exhibition was made possible through support from Schaffer Library Special Collections and the Mandeville Gallery, with special thanks to David Lublin.

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