Curiously Enough – It Don’t Add Up Part 2

Art Life Aug 16, 2009 No Comments

Last week’s post It Don’t Add Up was a contribution from a reader, an actual doctor in an actual university who knows about such things. The reader’s point was simple – the formula for the creation art didn’t quite mean what the Biennale of Sydney thinks it means.

Kaz Maslanka dropped by to alert Art Life readers to a post-in-reply at the group blog Mathematical Poetry. According to the blog’s headache-inducing upper case mission statement:

…mathematical poetry is an artistic expression created by performing mathematical operations on words or images as if they were numbers. One may find this baffling because it seems we are confused about knowing the difference between the states of quality versus quantity. But it is through the fusion of this dichotomy that mathematical metaphor is spawned. Mathematics has always been used for denotation. However, our interest is to use math as a language for connotation.

Okey doke. So, bracing ourselves for a set-to, we clicked on the link to find the following [plus a complete repost of our own words, so we now return the favour]:

Problems Encountered With Mathematical Poetry

Here is a perfect example of why mathematical poetry will have problems at least in the near future. In the [Art Life] blog entry […] the author is complaining that the originator for a set of equations published in the brochure for the Biennale of Sydney is numerically illiterate. Curiously enough I think they should have said mathematically illiterate for numbers are not involved in these examples. That said, I am not sure that it is true that the originator was mathematically illiterate as well. The author claims that the expression, “Art = tyranny” is a false statement yet, historically there has been countless examples of art that has been inspired by or executed to express tyranny. A good example would be the artistic turmoil created around 1911 in Zurich Switzerland, for the entire Dada movement’s intention was to be tyrannical (Anti-Art)… as well as the copy cats that came after. Obviously the problem brought to question in this brochure is how one reads an equation. Is the equation to be read as poetry or science? Too many people think that an equation is automatically scientific in its expression. If this myopic attitude is left to continue, mathematics will be in denotative chains forever. When one reads poetry one searches for the proper context to give it meaning in relation to their life. One looks at the many facets of a poem to see what it is pointing to. “Art = tyranny” is a perfect expression for Dada, Punk or any other nihilist form or art.

Now to give our author the benefit of the doubt we could agree with him/her if the originator’s intention was scientific however, I can hardly see scientific intent in this expression even if it were meant to be.

An intention not to break the law doesn’t excuse someone from breaking the law, does it? [We heard that on CSI once, and it sounded good…]

The Art Life

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