1997 Visible Thinking Mel Bochner by brian rotman


Brian Rotman, who writes on semiotics and maths papers (among a great many other interesting things) has been writing about Mel Bochner, an artist who deals very interestingly with ideas about mathematics. This is cool.

What took its place was measurement. Instead of drawing meshes, Bochner confronted their cognitive and physical wherewithal; he pursued the Kantian question of the conditions of the grid’s possibility.

He references these:

Language Is Not Transparent, 1970, chalk on paint on wall, 72 x 48 inchestumblr_inline_nc2udigmwq1t0lxhw

Which, of course, I like.

In Theory of Sculpture: #2 (Counting); Cardinal Versus Ordinal Bochner follows mathematical practice in using the same signs to notate ordinals – five stones counted in a row – as well as cardinals – piles of one through five stones; we understand that it is only the unwitnessed and undeclared body of the counting perceiver that allows the signs to confuse the two activities and to pretend that they refer to the same invisible and abstract objects. […]

As a mathematician who has recently written about the misleading identity and transcendental claims of mathematical discourse, reviewing Bochner’s work gave me a shock of the old: there was Bochner in the late 1960s with astonishing prescience and clarity of purpose seeing what needed to be seen, and doing it all in pictures.



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