Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Dusk by Karl Kempton

The following four images comprise a new minimalist visual poem by Karl Kempton. It could easily be said that each slide is a separate poem as well. I would like to draw our attention to the first slide which certainly can be viewed as mathematical poem in its own right. What is signature in this first slide (poem) is Karl’s use of text (there is no image as a rendering, there is just text, yet the images come through). It has a lot of the same simple and elegant features that remind me of Marton Koppany’s work.
The other three slides add an artistic breadth to the original idea in the first slide. It’s a very nice piece Karl! Thanks!

Science and Spirituality

Science does not dispel spirituality rather it points the direction of its next incarnation.

Ed Schenk

The purpose of this blog entry is to collect pieces by Ed Schenk.


Predestination / Karma / Reincarnation

Ed Schenk's World

Monday, January 26, 2009

Ignorance^4 by Ed Schenk

I would like to bring our attention to another very interesting piece (above) by the Dutch artist Ed Schenk. This one is titled “i to the fourth power” and it connotes an infinite loop of ignorance as well as asking a couple of questions. His question makes me think about asking more questions like the ones below. Can one answer be expressed as rational and the other irrational … can we express one type of ignorance being more rational and another type being more irrational?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Ed Schenk Predestination / Karma / Reincarnation

The following text are expressions by the Dutch Mathematical Poet, Ed Schenk

Predestination / karma / reincarnation

Some agnostics define death as:
death = life – life axiom 1)

In many religions the believe is there is something after or above death. This could be written as:
death ≠ 0 axiom 2)

Now if axiom 1 and axiom 2 are simultaneous valid, this leads to the postulate:
life ≠ life

This looks contradictory, however if we introduce the element time, axiom 1 could be written as:
death = life(n+1) – life(n),
where n is the current life. Moving variables yields: life(n+1) = life(n) + death. This could be written as:

next life = this life + death (predestination)


this life = next life – death This formula looks a bit strange, however this is due to semantics. If we take into account that time is not necessarily linear we could replace the word ‘next’ by the word ‘another’.

This leads to: this life = another life – death (karma)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Mathematickles by Betsy Franco

Mathmatickles by Betsy Franco
I would like to speak a bit about the book Mathematickles by Betsy Franco. The book is a wonderful collection of Mathematical Poetry showing addition poems, subtraction poems, long division poems, and multiplication poems. What I find refreshing about the poems is that they are constructed in a way that you can tell that Franco knows the difference between addition and multiplication in Mathematical Poetry for these poems are obviously not thrown together without thought. This may not seem like a big deal however, I find a lot of confusion about this topic among some intellectuals much less the general public. I think this book is an outstanding book for teaching young students how to use math as a language and have fun doing it. I would recommend it to all primary school teachers who are teaching math.

About Betsy:
Betsy Franco, a writer and a member of Suburban Squirrel comedy troupe, has written over eighty books-young adult novels, picture books, poetry, and nonfiction. A graduate of Stanford University, with an M.Ed from Lesley College, she particularly loves to show people how sassy, beautiful, and creative math can be. Her latest book is Bees, Snails, and Peacock Tails about geometry in nature. Mathematickles, also published by Simon & Schuster, was inspired by Bob Grumman's mathemaku and long division poetry. Metamorphosis, a novel illustrated by her son Tom, is forthcoming in fall 2009.

To give young adults a voice, she has compiled four anthologies of their work including: You Hear Me? poems and writing by teenage boys, and Falling Hard, 100 love poems by teenagers, published by Candlewick Press.

Betsy lives in Palo Alto, California, with her husband Doug who shares her interest in math. They have three creative sons, James and Dave (actor/writers) and Tom (sculptor, illustrator). See

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Long Division Poem

I would like to introduce the long division poem structure to this blog. The structure has been used for quite a few years primarily by Bob Grumman. It is similar to an orthogonal space poem with the exception that it uses a remainder. Because of its simplicity Betsy Franco and others including teachers have used it to help children play with mathematical ideas in the form of language. I think this is an excellent way to give children a fun way to play with poetic ideas and at the same time introduce them to the idea of applied mathematics. Here is a Christmas poem and one of my favorites by Bob Grumman:

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Joint Meeting of the American Mathematical Society and Mathematical Association of America Conference 2009

This blog entry is to share a few moments and images of the AMS and MAA Joint Meeting held this year in Washington D.C. The first lonely image is a view from my hotel room bed as I tried to get to sleep by counting the sheep jumping over the Washington Monument. The weather for the most part was cold and rainy and made my three-quarter mile walk to the conference a little trying at times. However the last day was nice and offered the image below which was shot from my hotel room window as the sun was rising in the east.

The shot below is a 180 degree panoramic view of 21 images sewn together to provide an overview of the entire show of mathart. The show is always modestly done due to its modest budget (relative to art galleries) but it is always done well and the people who work on it are wonderful enthusiastic individuals who feel mathart can make a difference. They even gave out prizes this year.
The shot below is of the past president of the Mathematical Association of America, Joseph Gallian as he was browsing the show.

Speaking of browsing the show … The next image (below) is of our friend Ivars Peterson who writes about mathart for many publications including Science News.

From left to right: Reza Sarhangi the nucleus of the Bridges Conference on mathematical connections in art music and architecture , Annette Emerson, the Public Relations Officer of the AMS and Anne Burns, one of the Judges for the mathart exhibit and webmaster for the mathart exhibit webpage.
The next image is of Robert Fathauer who curates the mathart show each year and also owns and operated Tessellations a company devoted to selling objects that inspire the math aesthetic.

Here is Nat Friedman and one of his knots displaying a minimum surface by spanning a soap bubble film across the knot. Very interesting and simple stuff showing complex concepts.

The next image is of Reza Sarhangi with Arthur Benjamin who happens to spend a lot of time on stage racing calculators … I have seen him in action and yes, he can calculate in his brain faster than you can calculate on your hand calculator. Check out this video.

JoAnne Growney and Sarah Glaz recently edited an anthology of mathematical love poems titled “Strange Attractors”. The book was published by AK Peters and can be seen in the above photo at the bottom right of the image. Also in the photo are Klaus Peters (left) and his lovely wife Alice (Thus AK). The conference also provided a poetry reading session to deliver poems from the book. The event was organized by co-editor JoAnne and you can see the crowd gathering for the reading in the image below.

In the image above you can see JoAnne standing and speaking to the crowd and Sara sitting and listening (lower right). The image below is of fellow mathematical poet Bob Grumman as he delivers one of his long division mathematical visual poems.

The image above is of me delivering my poem "Prometheus's Epistle to Job"

Here is a link to a review of the poetry reading by
Karren Alenier.

Kempton's Mouth

Karl Kempton has expanded his mathematical paradigm poem “My Big Mouth” into a polyaesthetic series show below. Very nice Karl! I especially like the last image which I would love to see at the bridges show in Banff this summer.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Kempton's View

Karl Kempton has sent me a paradigm mathematical poem (above) in response to the last two blog posts; so let's look at it. The image shows the volume of a ellipsoidal solid with the three ellipse radii defined metaphorically. The first radii is a value of "lack of forethought" and the second being an radius of "ego" and the last radii being the ratio of "attachment" divided by "humility" and all of this is equal to "my big mouth".

Thanks Karl for illuminating my problem :)

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Primitive Clarification

I am sure that most of our general population will find this discussion pointless but those interested in language, visual language and mathematical poetry should not. We use addition and multiplication in our language everyday but most are not aware of it. I think a person could spend their entire life devoted just to the concept of exploring the ideas presented in this one blog post (I am serious). We are just scratching the surface of the possibilities with our few examples shown in this blog. It is not trivial to ponder the differences in addition and multiplication for they are crucial to our existence through our everyday decisions. However, I can agree that in mathematical poetry we are taking these operations into the nebulous areas of art and art aesthetics. Numbers are clear and easy to manipulate with mathematical operations however, extrapolating them into the realm of images or concepts is much more difficult and it is even more difficult to say something new and interesting with it.
This blog post is an extension from my last post where I was trying to clarify the difference between addition and multiplication in the context of mathematical poetry. The best way to approach this is to start by viewing the blog entry which lays it out pretty clearly. This blog entry is devoted to clarifying a visual mathematical poem which was posted on the blog for the artpolice. The visual mathematical poem on his blog (above) was executed in the form of three paintings and it is show in my last blog post. I realize that the interest of the artpolice and his band of followers due to the paintings being fraudulent copies of other works (I will take his word for it). I find this interesting and there seems to be a lot of controversy surrounding it as well however I am more interested in the exploration of the visual/math principals.
Our example (above) in this blog post concerns the three images in the original work found at the blog of artpolice. (which seems to have disappeared) My original statement was that the images are an example of using multiplication in mathematical poetry as opposed to using addition. What I have done here is to show the work corrected with the proper operational sign and also create a little piece showing a solution to the problem if indeed it were done with addition.
The Image below was submitted by the math poet PI. O. --- He obviously knows the difference between addition and multiplication of images as well as the artist Tisa Bryant. Thank you PI. O.!

This wonderful image is a work by Tisa Bryant, titled "Slave Lady" and will be part of the show:

Festival of Writing, Performance, & Video

Curated by Amina Cain & Jennifer Karmin
at Links Hall
3435 N. Sheffield Avenue
Chicago, IL

Visit the National Gallery of Writing