Tag Archives: art

Beauty as Human Reason

Human reason and abstract thought are prerequisites for the appreciation of beauty, argues Roger Scruton in his latest book, Beauty. However in his review of Beauty, Sebastian Smee—art critic of the Boston Globe—finds himself disagreeing with the sentiment.

[Scruton] is swayed by Plato’s idea that beauty is not just an invitation to desire, but a call to renounce it. The idea sounds counterintuitive, but it chimes with the feeling we often have that the most beautiful things are somehow inviolate. Scruton argues that our inability to maintain the necessary distance and our failure to respect the sovereignty of the objects we consider beautiful have helped to bring about what he calls a “flight from beauty.” The phrase is resonant. Few who have registered developments in art, architecture and other aspects of life over the past 50 to 100 years could have failed to notice that beauty has suffered a demotion. From its position as a fundamental value in art, it has been reduced to a frivolous side issue or, worse, a carrier of tainted ideologies and clichés.

via Arts and Letters Daily

Evolution of Art and Design

Flickr user 802.11 has created a lovely flowchart depicting the evolution of art and design between 1845 and 1980. The chart depicts art movements and design groups and how each are connected.

Evolution of Art and Design 1845–1980 - Flickr

You should take a look at some of her other visualisations, too. I particularly like the depiction of character interactions throughout Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, act 1 scene 1.

The Evolution of Art Appreciation

The appreciation of art is not culturally learned, but is in fact an evolved trait, or at least that’s the view of Denis Dutton as elaborated in his latest book, The Art Instinct. In a generally positive review of the book, Newsweek points out the many limitations of Dutton’s conjecture as well as summarizing it’s main points:

Drawing on Charles Darwin’s second great book, The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex, Dutton argues that art, like broad shoulders in a man and a narrow waist in a woman, facilitates seduction. We tell stories, sing songs, invent tales, recount jokes and draw pictures in order to find a mate and, having found one, produce children. We value art because, Dutton claims, it may be made of rare and valuable materials and require much skill to produce. People value wealth and skill in choosing a mate. We can add to Dutton’s argument the fact that when 3-month-old infants are shown pictures of women who had been rated by adults as either attractive or unattractive, the babies looked much longer at the attractive ones.

via Arts and Letters Daily

Genetic Programming and the Evolution of Mona Lisa

The Final Evolution of Mona LisaRoger Alsing used a genetic algorithm to create a brilliant approximation of da Vinci’s Mona Lisa using only 50 semi-transparent polygons, evolving over approximately a million generations.

You can see the end result, after 904,314 generations here, but even after roughly 100,000 generations the image is impressive. I loved scrolling through the pictures, slowly seeing the finished article appearing.

Applying Mathematics to Escher’s Print Gallery

Prentententoonstelling—or Print Gallery—is a recursive M. C. Escher drawing. For Mathematics Awareness Month 2003, Escher and the Droste Effect delves into the mathematics behind one of Escher’s more intriguing pieces. The following from the published article.

[Prentententoonstelling] shows a young man standing in an exhibition gallery, viewing a print of a Mediterranean seaport. As his eyes follow the quayside buildings shown on the print from left to right and then down, he discovers among them the very same gallery in which he is standing. A circular white patch in the middle of the lithograph contains Escher’s monogram and signature.

What is the mathematics behind Prentententoonstelling? Is there a more satisfactory way of filling in the central white hole? We shall see that the lithograph can be viewed as drawn on a certain elliptic
curve over the field of complex numbers and deduce that an idealized version of the picture repeats itself in the middle. More precisely, it contains a copy of itself, rotated clockwise by 157.6255960832… degrees and scaled down by a factor of 22.5836845286….