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A 1,000 Words

Kurt Wenner, "Flying Carpet"
Few people, even artists, stop to realize that art is the highest form of mathematics.  Just as language has informal and formal forms, mathematics has formulae and aesthetics.  Language has grammar and vocabulary, art has principles and elements.  Mathematics is to art what language is to poetry.  Mathematics are the tools by which we create beauty and harmony.

In language, we arrange words in a meaningful ways.  The writer's job is to make that arrangement the most pleasing and harmonious composition possible.  In mathematics, we arrange numbers in meaningful ways.  The artist's job is to arrange the numbers in ways that we want to hang on our wall or go to a museum to see.

Music is nothing but mathematics.  It is the science of vibration and harmonics massaged into glorious sound.  Music uses time, sine waves and vibrations in order to create individual sounds that are then blended into deeply moving compositions.

Art uses light, shadow, perspective, and spacial relationships.  It uses shape, form and function.  It blends these geometric and physical concepts into images that evoke emotional responses in the viewer.  Art is numbers given voice, because the greatest art speaks to us in a voice that we intuitively know is that of the Universe itself.

How many of us analyze the way we perceive the Universe?  How do we know what something feels like by looking at a photo of it?  How do we know something is further or higher than another?  You may think these are elementary questions, but try closing one eye for a day and going about your normal routine.  Without stereo vision, what clues are you using to navigate the world?

Here's a fun and easy experiment.  Take a friend or family member and sit them in a dark room.  Take a portable light source, say a flashlight, and move the flashlight around their head.  Try every position - up, down, sides, back, dead on.  How do you feel when you see their head lit from different positions?  Which ones "feel" right and which "feel" wrong?  Which frighten you and which attract you?  Which ones are boring and which exciting?

Now ask yourself, "Why do I feel these things?"

It is not an easy question and the answer requires many hours of deep reflection.  That is art.

We all know the old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words, and this is why.  It is easier to show artistic principles than it is to describe them because the language we need is visual.  Try describing a shadow to a blind person.  Try telling them the difference between red and green.  Better yet, take your blind friend to the Louvre, stand them in front of the Mona Lisa and tell them why everyone marvels at that picture.  It can be done, but it will take a long time and the right vocabulary.

How many of us stop to consider that a trapezoid is just a square viewed from one edge?  That means that pyramids are cubes viewed from a certain perspective.

Art is a rabbit hole that causes us to turn our Universes upside down and start thinking about what our senses are telling us.  This is the primary difference between great art and crap.  Art that doesn't clarify some universal secret or take us out of our complacent lives is NOT art.  It is just noise, and the world is full of noise.

Art is the glory of silence.  As anyone who has ever tried to record silence knows, there is no such thing.  But, there is the control of noise to create softness and harmony, and that is art.

Control of noise is done through mathematics, and when that control rises to its highest expression, that is art.  Regardless of which sense is receiving the noise, we can mathematically organize the noise to make it pleasing to our senses.  That is the artist's job.

The more we observe our Universe, the more we appreciate the great works of art.  And if you need proof that art exists beyond the senses, then remember that one of the greatest painters (Claude Monet) was blind, and one of the greatest composers (Ludwig von Beethoven) was deaf.