A Conjecture on Space

Last weekend I exhibited some work with a collaborator, Karl M. V. Waugh. This work was the result of a duoethnography carried out by an artist and a mathematician, working together to explore the differences in our understandings of the mathematical world.

A Conjecture on Space is an interactive, generative sound and visual experience exploring the material forms of mathematics – chalk and blackboard, paper, lecturer and speech – and the ways that mathematical ideas play within and extend without those materials. By bringing these together in a sensory experience we hope to bring some of the strange contradictions of mathematical work to a wider audience.
As a sculptor carrying out observations of working mathematicians, Katie is fascinated by the intense materiality of the chalk and chalkboards that are ubiquitous in mathematical work, and sees it in terms of human construction; Karl has worked with Combinatorics, Coding Theory, Complexity Theory and Information Theory through a PhD, and thinks of mathematics as invisibly underpinning everything that we see, even before it has been written. This contrast between the concrete and the unknowable, the actual and the possible, is what this installation hopes to highlight; we call this a conjecture, a speculation, but on space and the physical manifestations of mathematics.

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