Logic & Structure: An Art Project

Theoria 87 (4):959-970 (2021)
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Abstract

The Logic & Structure project is about the language of mathematical logic and how it can be of use in the visual arts. It involves a conversation between a mathematical logician and a group of artists. The project is ongoing, and this is a report on its first two phases. This text has two parts. The first, “Logic”, is a short introduction to certain aspects of logic, as it was presented to the participants. The second part, “Structures”, describes some of the outcomes.The inspiration for the project comes from modern model theory whose advances revealed the extent to which formal methods may be helpful in describing and analysing mathematical structures. While the structures that are studied are often immensely complex, the formal language in which their properties can be expressed is simple. Its syntax is precisely defined and well understood, and this understanding often successfully guides us in our explorations of the rich world of mathematical objects. Our goal is to see the extent to which a similar approach could be of value when talking about works of art as structures. To this end, one could try to describe existing art objects in terms of suitably chosen formal languages, but we follow a reverse route. The language is described first, and the participating artists are asked to come up with artwork in which formal elements and their relations are chosen in advance, making it easier to identify those features of the created pieces that can be formally expressed. In other words, we are not thinking of applying formal methods to create art; rather we want to begin with samples that can serve as material for discussion.

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Roman Kossak
City University of New York

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