ABOUT MATHEMATICAL PHOTOGRAPHY
"It seems to me now that mathematics is capable of an artistic
excellence as great as that of any music, perhaps greater; not because
the pleasure it gives (although very pure) is comparable, either in
intensity or in the number of people who feel it, to that of music, but
because it gives in absolute perfection that combination, characteristic
of great art, of godlike freedom, with the sense of inevitable destiny;
because, in fact, it constructs an ideal world where everything is perfect
Bertrand Russell in Autobiography 1967
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
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 frame it, record it and later present it.
There is nothing particularly special about this process. In the same way
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 can inspire (for me at
least) 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 put it. I photograph them to explore their emotional and
aesthetic values. In the Gallery are a selection of the results.
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
have something to add, my contact details are here.