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Beauty of symbols
Wednesday, September 21, 2005

There is a certain beauty and elegance in Mathematical symbols. I, for one, think the creation of Mathematics is the aesthetical pursuit of truth.

In retrospect, one of the main reason I studied Mathematics was the symbols. I must look at the symbols, even if I don't understand them.

When I encounter an unknown equation, I first look at the equal sign and then parse the equation from left to right. I consider it a bonus if I get to understand the concept the symbols are trying to convey - In the end, knowing what an equation represents is the connection of the symbols to our objective reality.

Mathematical, or Physics, equations hide so much complexity, yet they display so much intellectual power that we truly owe reverence to their discovers or creators.

I guess we could consider ourselves lucky to still find new works from Einstein: the simplicity of strokes; the genius of each line; the intensity of thought put forth; the elegant curves of his fountain pen.

Was Einstein creating art? Well, no. He was writing physics. However, the equations look very pleasing to my eye.

The creation of art can be considered from two points of view: The logical and the non-logical.

First of all, when you take all the cheesiness out of creating art (ear cutting, et al) you end up with a very logical creation process. You have to worry about vanishing points, proper perspecitive, soft and hard lines, darkenss of shadow, paper weight, etc. On the other hand, Art could be considered to be nothing more than the expression of the inner self: the process of creation should hurt - Nothing logical about that.

Anyway, I find doing Mathematics equally consuming (if not more) as creating a drawing from scratch: both processes take an immense amount of concentration and dedication.

You'd have to experience doing both, to understand what I'm talking about: solving a Mathematical problem and creating art - At times, it feels like a chaotic process with no clear goal: your pencil moves with no specific direction, yet you end up with something that is satisfactory.

Now, does art need to be liked by someone to be considered art? It is my contention that, people liking anything that is produced by an artist is purely coincidental and most definitely accidental. I.e. If art is created to be enjoyed by someone else, then it's not art; If art is created to be sold, it is then called a commercial trade. No true artist would want to be called a tradesman. However, some like to call themselves commercial artists, which I think is an oxymoron.

I shouldn't hold such a purist view about the comercialization of a trade. Even the Monalissa had an original buyer. But, if we believe the stories, da Vinci never parted ways with his master piece - He may have felt untrue to his artistic integrity, hence, he kept the piece until his death. Or...Who knows why he never gave the Monalisa to Francesco del Giocondo.

As for the modern artist: I've come to the conclusion that the modern artist has to survive in our modern times. Gone are the days when the Renaissance families, like the de'Medicci family, served as patrons of the masters of yesteryear. Even though these masters were paid to create art, they did have some artistic freedom and left us with priceless marvels painted on old pieces of wood.

The artistic world has changed. Modern artists have to sell their wares and let their creations be critiqued by the non-artist connoisseur.

I wonder if it pains them? To see their creations hanging on some chic art gallery on some posh part of some downtown. Perhaps, the reality of our commercial world has woken within them the business savvy we all have encrusted in our genes: sell to survive, or perish in miserable poverty.

I'm not a professional artist - I personally don't create art to sell - It's probably unbuyable anyway. What I am is a tradesman of bits and bytes - I create capital (or help create it) out of abstract ideas and touches of Mathematics. I create Computer Software and Information Systems - The value added to our type of society is very clear: information makes the new world go round.

As per the value of Art: Art is very subjective and the value it adds is debatable. Some would argue that artists take snapshots of our current times to be left as testaments to future generations. I don't think so. It is this romantic view of art that makes us believe that artists' works are mirrors of society - Art, I think, is ego based and is the expression of the inner self, not a mirror of our real world.

Mathematical equations as art? It depends who you ask - If you ask me, I will have to say "yes."

Long live the creator - Of art and of capital.

9:08 PM | 2 comment(s) |


I was thinking yesterday about a similar concept, which I think may have some insight into the subject of Art and Mathematics.

You said that information is what makes the new world go round. I think what makes the world go round is whatever allows us to persue happiness. Information allows us to do that. It always has, but now (because of technology), we are more able to both collect information and mine that which we collect.

What I was thinking about the other day was the concept of an athlete. Athletes, at least in America, receive enormous amounts of money, yet the results of their profession provide very little long term benefit to society. Don't get me wrong--I love sports (particularly ultimate Frisbee). Many athletes make very good use of their time and money to provide benefit to society. I simply mean that their playing sports does not.

Athletes and artists both share this quality. But they make us happy. Which is beneficial right? Is the only difference that artists and athletes provide immediate aesthetic pleasure?
By Blogger CJ, at 10:24 PM

Hey CJ...

I think there is difference between athletes and artists.

Athletes, at least in our North American societies, are actually entertainers. Their job is to entertain the masses via enormous conglomerates of media companies (Mind you that we only get 2 or 3 points of view).

They serve the same purpose as the "Oprahs" and "Tom Cruises": to sell stuff.

If you notice, the life of an Olympic athlete could be summarized as follows: win a gold medal -> get picked up by Nike/Adidas/Whoever to sell sport apparel -> Retire to live a semi-normal life reliving past glories signing autographs for hopeful children.

It's kind of weird when you think about it. We are bombarded with images of "celebrities" every where. And it's always to sell us something: a charity, a watch, a computer, a president, a faith, etc., etc.

Like you said, "we are more able to both collect information and mine that which we collect." And there sure is a lot of information around - Even though, we seem saturated by all these data, I wouldn't want to go back to not having it - I guess you just learn to be selective of what entertains you and what data is useful to search for that which "makes us happy."

Artists on the other hand, tend to be encrusted into our societies in a different way - If an artist is not famous, their anger or happiness in this world is portrayed in their work at your local art gallery. If the artist is famous, you are right, their likeness and personality will be used to sell something - Even their creations, if they get a really good agent.

It is indeed an interesting subject - And I can see some parallels between the two (artist and athletes), now that you mentioned it.

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