Daniel Waltrip-Math Rock, Fractals, The Golden Mean: Representations of a Third Culture?

This week we had the distinct pleasure of witnessing first-hand the unique sound of math rock, presented by a major pioneer of the genre. To say the least, it was certainly a welcome change of pace compared to your standard lecture. The precision, technical expertise, and creative exploration that we saw in the 25-minutes of intense drumming was awesome. It is fitting to be part of a genre titled “math rock”, as the this unique, technical style of rock seems inspired by some complex mathematical formula. Although it is merely the inspiration of the artists that creates music, and not some formula, it is still very interesting to see a different approach to the over saturated music industry of today.

On Monday we were given a glimpse of how mathematics and art are intertwined and the astonishing results that such a mixture can create. Looking at the use of perspective in painting, the golden ratio and its pervasiveness in our universe, the beauty and intricate nature of fractals, and much more revealed to what extent math and science have fused with art. These methods of enhancing art through science to produce exotic and beautiful new art are exciting and very interesting to learn about. The future will only hold greater possibilities and an explosion of new ideas and frontiers in which science and technology enhances art.

Last year, after we had finished the AP Calculus exam, my teacher had us do a presentation on some mathematical phenomena or process. My group was fortunate to have the topic of Phi, the golden ratio, so when I saw that this was part of Monday’s lecture, I felt fortunate to have my background knowledge. This ratio is really quite extraordinary, and perhaps is infused with our daily lives and the composition of the universe more significantly and to a greater extent than any other number. Its uses in design and to create an appealing, natural beauty is unsurpassed. This ratio is commonly used in art and design processes currently to enhance the beauty and appeal of a work. However, it is quite easy to get carried away and “find” this ratio in all aspects of life, whether it be your pinkie toe or the pyramids of Egypt. This concept reminded me of the clip that we saw at the beginning of the lecture from the movie “Pi”, where the mathematician’s scientific rationale is consumed by his desire to find a formula that defines life.

However, despite these interesting and successful mixtures of art and science, one has to wonder about the result. In my previous blog I proposed the idea that fusing art and science mainly leads to new creative art processes and incarnations, rather than furthering the scientific pursuit of knowledge and understanding. It seems to me that what we have learned in the lectures supports this hypothesis. On Monday we saw how taking scientific and mathematical ideas such as the golden ratio and perspective brought about amazing changes in art and design, but we have yet to see how art can assist in science’s quest to understand the universe and the laws that govern it.


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