COMMENTARY ON "THE MATHEMATICAL ART OF M.C. ESCHER" VIDEO
Editor's Note: In her submission, Michaela D. ('15) comments on a video about the famous “mathematical” artist M.C. Escher, notorious for his work with perception, patterns, and optical allusions .
This specific video piqued my interest because I’ve always considered mathematics/and or the sciences as separate entities to subjects of creativity such as art. Yet in recent years I have begun developing a greater interest in art and find, through my studies of past artists, that much of art was not only inspired by mathematics but rather was created due to mathematical formulas/derisions. I find it fascinating the M.C. Escher actually did not have any advanced mathematical knowledge yet his constant use of patterns, optical illusions and use of mathematical concepts of space and general geometric ideals further alluded to advanced mathematical concepts. I found it increasingly interesting that it was upon his visit to the Alhmabra of Spain that he became fascinated with the Moorish tiles and thus his interest in tessellation. As tessellations are regular patterns that split up the plane, Escher had to use the mathematical theorem of symmetry to execute his constant works of tiles without an actual understanding of the mathematical formulas in which support the concept of symmetry. However over time, it seems that Escher’s interest in these somewhat simple patterns increased, until he became fascinated with the actual space that surrounded them. He thus began to actually diverge from these simple tile patterns and interestingly enough actually used some mathematical principles such an infinity and dimension of space to further his optical illusion work. In fact, cosmologists of modern day believe the universe may be in Escher shape- circle limit three- a measure of space as it merges towards infinity. The fact that cosmologists and mathematicians later confirmed forty years later that he was exactly right is incredible! Escher’s use of patterns and the concept of infinity, the utilization of space and the manipulation of images of pattern are now actually based upon algorithms- or the missing mathematics behind Escher’s work. I suppose what I am wondering now is how did mathematicians derive those algorithms? As Escher was not a mathematician himself, is there some common sense principle behind his constant design use of patterns? Are there correlations between the means in which Escher drew his 3-D shape images and the geometric formulas for those shapes? While these questions still linger with me the conclusion remains: mathematics and art can be one and the same.