Articles

PAINTING BY NUMBER

Art is a way we express to one another an appreciation of, or a reaction to life.

Mathematicians have a deep appreciation of the order and relativity of symbolic factors in existence, which the layman often fails to appreciate. The public may not be aware that an interplay of relationships is what attracts both the mathematician and the painter, musician or even filmmaker. The fine artist, however, has a built-in public relations mechanism in that his work, which is a cumulative record of his interest in the varying relationships of light and color, can be grasped and appreciated by ordinary people who have no knowledge whatsoever of advanced mathematics, optics or color theory.

No such public relations mechanism assists the formulas and equations of the math "artist"- his work isn't generally appreciated until it in turn is translated into a less symbolic product: the sprinklers that turn on automatically at the correct time each day, the graceful, accurate trajectory of the space shuttle, or perhaps the computer software that permits a painter to create art on his laptop with no thought at all given to the mountains of code he is manipulating with his mouse.

Recently, film director Steven Soderbergh spared the assembled throng at the Shrine a lengthy Oscar acceptance speech by limiting his thanks to anyone who spends part of their day making art, as art is something that improves the quality of life. I thought that was a gracious acknowlegement and an important message, especially at a time when deconstuction and criticism seem to be the national sport. It's also a validation of the work of artists in less "artsy" fields, whose appreciation of the interplay of relationships in the universe enriches the daily lives of many, even though we can't understand a bloody thing they are saying.

Jim       

© 2001 Meskimen Applied Silliness


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