Public Dialogues with Artists and Mathematicians

It is a rare opportunity and a great pleasure to bring together these amazing individuals to have conversations with us on the subject of math and art. Please come join our dialogue. Speakers will give brief presentations of their work, answer questions, then lead a discussion on math and art. All talks are at Shift Studio Gallery and begin at 3pm unless otherwise specified. Everyone is welcome!


Clicking on each speaker's name will take you to their website.

Anton Dochtermann
is a mathematician at the University of Washington where he uses topological methods in the study of graph homomorphisms. He likes to apply geometrical/topological tools and techniques in the study of discrete structures, an example of which are secondary polytopes, which he explained to me lucidly during one long interactive math session at a Fremont café. He will be relocating to Berlin for a postdoctoral fellowship at the Technische Universität Berlin. When Anton is not doing math, he takes stunning photographs and performs keyboard and clarinet in a local band.

Eric Eley
In addition to meticulous 2D work, Eric creates phenomenal abstract sculptures that project themselves from the wall. Some sculptural pieces consist of curved forms connected by networks of lines, which suggest the explosion of mathematical surfaces or parts of a manifold. This deconstruction of space is a very natural mathematical procedure. Eric's work was recently exhibited at 4Culture in Seattle.

Matt Kahle
does research in topological and probabilistic combinatorics, discrete geometry, and graph theory. A firm believer in the intersection of math and art, he has collaborated on mathematical art projects with fellow mathematician Zack Treisman and others. He will leave the University of Washington this summer for a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University.

Amanda Knowles
grew up in a household of scientists, whose influence can be seen in her attractive and subtle art work. In her words: "There is great beauty in the way that science strives to organize and order the world. Speaking to this organization and structure, my work is a non-literal use of the imagery of science, using layers of diagrams from engineering and physics to create surface and depth." The various permutations of mathematical objects that come about from Amanda's intuitive approach bear an uncanny resemblance to the process of mathematical inquiry. She recently showed at Davidson Gallery in Seattle.

Sándor Kovács
is an algebraic geometer who does research in higher dimensional birational geometry. His enthusiasm and support for the Demonstrations Project have been instrumental. Our collaboration, "Shafarevich's Conjecture," went through three versions before he felt it was an accurate description of the mathematics. So now if you ask him: "Hey man, what was your thesis about?", he won't give you a nebulous answer about the shape of the universe and black holes, but point to the drawing of our collaboration. His understanding and appreciation of the process of art is enhanced by his being married to the wonderfully inventive visual artist Timea Tihanyi. Together they will present a talk about the similarities of the creative process in the two apparently divergent disciplines of math and art.

Margie Livingston
creates majestic paintings that are empirical studies of the world around her. These explorations of space and position possess the mathematical quality of considering the essential underlying structure. Margie's work was recently on show at the Greg Kucera Gallery in Seattle.

Corey Passons
grew up in Spokane, Washington and is lead singer and guitarist for Spanish for 100, a hardcore Seattle Indie band. A deeply thoughtful and spiritual person, Corey brings these qualities to his music. When he's not on tour or catching the next big wave on his longboard, he is active in his community and is dedicated to working with prison inmates. Intrigued by the possibility of mathematics in his music, he intends to give us an experimental performance of math rock.

Dan Pollack
is a differential geometer at the University of Washington. His current research is in the area of mathematical general relativity, which considers the fundamental nature of physical space. He and a couple other mathematicians have discovered ways to construct wormholes between any two points of an Einsteinian space while maintaining its structure. Our collaboration over a period of several weeks involved a brisk crash course in general relativity and partial differential equations and was a very rewarding experience. Wormhole Construction on Sigma T attempts to show that what appears to be a topological proposition is really an involved analytical problem in partial differential equations; such considerations were at the heart of the recent proof of the celebrated Poincaré Conjecture.

Barbara Robertson
is inspired by current scientific inquiry in the fields of physics, astronomy, and biology. Her brilliant and colorful prints, explorations of light, space, and motion, are filled with mathematical objects, which reveal the underlying mathematics of science. "Ambiguities of space and scale, of the virtual and the actual, and the relationship between the micro and the macro are important aspects of the work." Barbara's prints can be seen at Davidson Gallery in Seattle.

Timea Tihanyi
Before becoming an artist, Timea was trained as a medical doctor. This background is apparent in her art, which explores at once the attractiveness and repulsiveness of the physical body through the careful selection of materials based on physical characteristics that recall its anatomy and physiology. Timea's works, which are often large sculptural installations, now and then have mathematical features that are perhaps related to her interest "in the historical periods of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment when artistic and scientific interest turned toward the understanding and exploring of our physical being [...]." She will present with her husband mathematician Sándor Kovács on the process of creation.

Zack Treisman
is a mathematician, outdoorsman, cyclist, martial artist, and traveler, among other things. He also occasionally shows signs of budding as a mathematical artist - in which he is inspired by his friendship with Lun-Yi. Zack is currently finishing up a postdoctoral fellowship at the Tata Institute for Fundamental Research in Mumbai, India, where generations of young algebraic geometers have gone for inspiration. He will share some musings on viewing geometry as an interplay between mapmaking and its inverse process, and how this relates to his study of rational curves.

Lun-Yi Tsai
grew up in the household of a kinetic sculptor in Paris and New York, where he was saturated with art especially modern abstract art. By the time he was in high school, Lun-Yi realized that there was something missing in abstract art. In order to fill this void, he resolved to study abstraction, which meant a serious study of theoretical math. He plans to talk about how math has become one of the principal means by which he understands the world and also how it is an inspiration for his art.









Schedule of Talks:


May 5 Lun-Yi Tsai
    Life, Art, and Mathematics: The Effort to Understand

May 12 Margie Livingston and Dan Pollack
    Conceptions of Space

May 19 Amanda Knowles and Zack Treisman
    Mapmaking and Vice Versa

May 24 @ 7pm Timea Tihanyi and Sándor Kovács
    Processes in Artistic and Mathematical Creation

May 25 @ 8pm Corey Passons, rock musician
    An Experimental Performance of Math Rock

May 26 Barbara Robertson and Anton Dochtermann
    Geometry and the Imagination

June 2 Eric Eley and Matt Kahle
    Space and Aperiodicity in Math and Art