[Humanist] 26.203 Fractals, Chaos, and the Materiality of Thinking

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Wed Aug 1 18:43:37 CEST 2012


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 26, No. 203.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org



        Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2012 17:37:12 -0700
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: The Islands of Benoît Mandelbrot: Fractals, Chaos, and the Materiality of Thinking

Bard Graduate Center Presents

The Islands of Benoît Mandelbrot:
Fractals, Chaos, and the Materiality of Thinking
September 21, 2012 to January 27, 2013

EXHIBITION EXPLORES THE ROLE OF IMAGES IN SCIENTIFIC THINKING

FEATURING NEVER BEFORE EXHIBITED WORKS ON PAPER AND OBJECTS INCLUDING 
DYNAMIC BLACK AND WHITE DRAWINGS, COMPUTER PRINT-OUTS, PHOTOGRAPHS, AND 
COMPUTER-GENERATED FILMS

Focusing primarily on the work of one of the most notable mathematicians 
of the twentieth century, The Islands of Benoît Mandelbrot: Fractals, 
Chaos, and the Materiality of Thinking explores the role of images in 
the development of what has become known as fractal geometry and chaos 
theory. Nina Samuel, a visiting assistant professor at the BGC, is the 
curator. Samuel, who received her PhD in art history from the Humboldt 
University of Berlin, is also an associate member of Das Technische Bild 
in Germany and a former member of the Swiss national research program 
eikones/NCRR Iconic Criticism.

For thousands of years, Western thought assumed that fundamental 
geometry consisted of regular, ideal forms, such as cubes, spheres, and 
cones, with straight or evenly curved faces and edges. Benoît Mandelbrot 
(1924–2010), however, explored mathematics as he saw it— in all its 
untidiness and irregularity, devoting himself to the study, for example, 
of the forms of the coastlines of real islands, with all their 
unpredictable inlets, creeks, and furrows.

At his death in 2010, Mandelbrot left a mass of idiosyncratically 
organized drawings, computer print-outs, films, manuscript scribbles, 
objects, and Polaroids in his office in Cambridge, Massachusetts— an 
extraordinary trove to which Mandelbrot’s wife, Aliette, generously 
allowed Professor Samuel access. “To explore it was like wandering 
through the mathematician’s brain,” said Samuel. “It was like witnessing 
the ephemeral traces of his very thought processes. Selections from 
these materials form the core of the exhibition.

Sketches from Mandelbrot's contemporaries—the French mathematician 
Adrien Douady and the German biochemist Otto E. Rössler— will also be 
publicly exhibited for the first time. The work of the Massachusetts 
Institute of Technology meteorologist Edward N. Lorenz, a pioneer of 
chaos theory, will be represented by loans from the Library of Congress.

The Islands of Benoît Mandelbrot: Fractals, Chaos, and the Materiality 
of Thinking is accompanied by a fully-illustrated book published with 
Yale University Press.  Drawing new connections between the material 
world and that of mathematical ideas, the publication offers not only a 
rare glimpse at the artifactual terrain and graphic methodologies of 
Benoît Mandelbrot and his contemporaries but also investigates the role 
of scientific imagery in visual thinking across diverse disciplines.

For more information and images, contact barnhart at bgc.bard.edu; 
212-501-3074.

-- 
Willard McCarty, FRAI / Professor of Humanities Computing & Director of
the Doctoral Programme, Department of Digital Humanities, King's College
London; Professor, School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics,
University of Western Sydney; Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews
(www.isr-journal.org); Editor, Humanist
(www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist/); www.mccarty.org.uk/





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