Mathematical Photography

The art of Justin Mullins

 

In the same way an ordinary photograph is a snapshot of natural beauty, a mathematical photograph is a snapshot of mathematical beauty or ugliness, power, humour, romance…
NEXT EXHIBITION: Lauderdale House, Highgate Hill London N6 5HG
3-29 April 2019

THE SHOCK OF SUDDEN DEATH

Entanglement can sometimes end in an unexpected way called sudden death. These matrices show the difference between entangled states that fade away and those that end in sudden death. 

Entanglement

The connections between ordinary objects are fleeting and superficial. Two atoms may collide and separate, never to meet again. Others can stick together by virtue of the chemical bonds they form, until the day that bond is broken.

But there is another type of connection that is far more powerful and romantic. Certain objects can become linked by a mysterious process called entanglement. Particles that become entangled are deeply connected regardless of the distance between them. If they become separated by the width of the Universe, the bond between them will remain intact. These particles are so deeply linked that it’s as if they somehow share the same existence.

FALLACY

Mathematics evokes many emotions but the most  powerful often come from errors. This derivation contains an error that is easy to make but difficult to spot generating puzzlement,  frustration, amusement and more.

EULER’S RELATION

One of the great wonders of mathematical world, at once surprising, insightful, awe-inspiring and profound.

About the art of Justin Mullins

Let me say upfront that I am not a mathematician. I lay no claim to the equations I have selected in my work. Those are the discoveries of the philosophers and scientists who spend their lives exploring the mathematical world and revealing its great wonders. For me they are like the great explorers returning from distant shores with tales of fantastic lands and magical creatures.

If mathematicians are explorers, then my role is that of a photographer who retraces their steps. During my journey, I photograph what I find. By that I mean I frame it, record it and later present it.

There is nothing particularly special about this process. In the same way that an ordinary photograph is a snapshot of an area of outstanding natural beauty, a mathematical photograph is a snapshot of mathematical beauty.

But while the notion of mathematical beauty, and indeed ugliness, is well established, mathematics and mathematical physics inspires for me an extraordinary mix of other emotions and ideas. For that reason, the equations in my photographs are much more than objects of  ‘austere beauty’, as Bertrand Russell once put it. I photograph them to explore their emotional valence and their aesthetic charge.

Let me say a few words about the text that accompanies many of these photographs. The most common request I receive is to explain my work and I am partially sympathetic.

On the one hand, I want my pictures to be judged in their own right and for people to come to their own conclusions about their value. It cannot be right for me to tell people what to feel about a picture. But on the other hand, I recognise that mathematics is an alien world, in which many people rapidly become lost. The text is intended as signposts to help people on their way.

I would be happy to hear how visitors to this site feel about my work. If you have something to add, contact me at: justin@localhost.