Writing and art by Charlotte Southall
Recently I have been finding a lot of inspiration for art projects in my maths/physics background and a concept that I am currently exploring has to do with four-dimensional space. I first came across the idea of there being more than three dimensions years ago in a maths class where a teacher mentioned it briefly— I remember being told that 4D snails could take over the world (which I later learnt was in reference to this study). This year I have decided to delve deeper and see what the higher dimensions have to offer me artistically, and if there are any snails. It is said that if you were to float in an unimaginable four-dimensional space you would be able to view every perspective of a three-dimensional scene at once; this idea of a point of omnipresence existing is something that fascinates me.
Cubist artists Picasso and Braque put forth the proposition that our sight and memory of an object is actually made up of multiple perspectives of it rather than a single still. They set about trying to give more accurate representations of how we interact with the world by attempting to show as much of an object as possible on paper. Looking back on the Cubist movement, it could be said that they were playing with the idea of a view from a four-dimensional space. Using Picasso’s concept, by trying to project an image of life from the fourth dimension we could actually be getting a more accurate image of how our brains process three-dimensional scenes.
The fact that four-dimensional space is unimaginable gives me a pretty broad scope of things to explore. What I love about visual art is the endless possibilities to play around with STEM concepts in a more flexible way. Ironically, I have found that trying to create work with scientific truth in mind has actually led my work to become more and more abstracted and unrecognisable from our world.
I think that there can be a perceived divide between the rigidness of science/maths and the freedom of visual art but they really do compliment each other when used together to create some cool things. I think that STEM definitely plays an important part in art as it is constantly moving forward and giving artists new material to think about. You’ll find that more artists than you think actually cross over with STEM concepts, even if they don’t realise it. At the same time I also think think that science needs art to keep moving forward as it offers fresh perspectives of the world that science is studying.
My aim for this work is to create an overwhelming experience through two-dimensional media and in the process give life to the dolls that I am using as subject matter. I think that by exploring the concept of a four-dimensional space I can produce some sort of alternative representation of how we interact with and experience the three-dimensional world.