Almost two years ago, Spanish filmmaker Cristóbal Vila shot an exquisite little film, Nature by Numbers, which captured the ways in which mathematical concepts (Fibonacci Sequence, Golden Number, etc.) reveal themselves in nature. And the short then clocked a good 2.1 million views on YouTube alone.
Vila returns with a new film called Inspirations. In this case, the inspiration is M.C. Escher (1898-1972), the Dutch artist who explored a wide range of mathematical ideas with his woodcuts, lithographs, and mezzotints. Although Escher had no formal training in mathematics beyond secondary school, many mathematicians counted themselves as admirers of his work. (Visit this online gallery to get better acquainted with Escher’s art, and be sure to click on the thumbnails to enlarge the images). As Vila explains, Inspirations tries to imagine Escher’s workplace, “what things would surround an artist like him, so deeply interested in science in general and mathematics in particular.” It’s a three minutes of unbridled imagination. This is a stirring tribute to a great artist.
wonderful little film (theantidote)
I try in my prints to testify that we live in a beautiful and orderly world, not in a chaos without norms, even though that is how it sometimes appears. MC Escher
The lithograph above, entitled Reptiles, illustrates many of Escher’s abiding interests. On the drawing board is a tessellation (tiling) with drawings of three shades of alligators locked into a hexagonal grid. The realistically drawn objects in the nature morte establish the usual three dimensional illusion of naturalistic drawing. The tiny alligator on the dodecahedron, snorting fire, and the two lizards entering and leaving the tessellated plane provide clues that the picture is imaginative but fundamentally about the relationship between two and three dimensional space.