The Human Argument – the Writings ofAgnes Denes

I’ve been lent this book – second from the bottom on this page. Denes is a very interesting character, hovering between social sculpture, science and mathematics, and serious questions about the human condition. She keeps ‘Organic Notebooks’ of the creative process and is concerned with distortions and ‘Pillars of Assumptions’.

The Book of Dust covers artificial intelligence and the death of the sun; Denes claims to prove that, scale-wise, humans are ‘in the middle’ of existence (p. 33) – the geometric mean between the size of the universe (10^28 cm) and the Planck Length (10^-33 cm) is about 0.003cm, the size of the average living cell. That’s a cool thought.


Strength Analysis –  Agnes Denes. All of the words for strength, in a pyramidal grid.

She’s very into mapping, a sort of fictional-theoretical-structural diagramming of ideas and place-ideas. She draws links between thought processes and the growth of crystals. Here are some of her ‘philosophical drawings’:

This is a famous one:


I use mathematics in my work to base my images on a non-erratic additional language, another dimension: malleable, unemotional and perfect. I can use it as a canvas that I stretch and pull in any direction, wrap around my concepts in a multitude of ways, yet they remain perfect in any form I give them. p. 213

I love mathematics because I can humanise it and, in turn, it gives me perfection and beauty. p. 214


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