Bridges 2017: Highlights of the Conference on Mathematics Connections in Art, Music, and Science

The 2017 international conference of Bridges: Mathematical Connections in Art, Music and Science was held at University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, July 27-31.

"The mission of the Bridges Organization and of this conference is to expose, discuss, and popularize the many connections between mathematics and other elements of art and culture, including fine arts, architecture, music, dance, poetry, origami, puzzles, and the sciences." --- The Bridges Organization Board of Directors

Bridges 2017 - General Scenes

The conference drew over 300 mathematicians, scientists, artists, educators, musicians, poets, computer scientists, sculptors, dancers, weavers and model builders from around the world, and was kicked off by the Mayor of the City of Waterloo, Dave Jaworsky, who had majored in mathematics at the University of Waterloo. The American Mathematical Society provided the 2017 Calendar of Mathematical Imagery, posters, information on Mathematical Imagery, and a sampling of AMS books, including Origami6 and Art in the Life of Mathematicians, to the participants.

The Bridges 2017 Program included regular papers, short papers, and workshops on a variety of topics including typography, tiling, dance, spheres, polyhedral sculptures, projection mapping, Islamic art, vector theory, virtual reality, lace-making, fractals, poetry, weaving, origami, music, tessellations, basket making, puzzles, outreach and education, and more.

The Art Exhibitions included works by some of the session presenters, and the University of Waterloo Art Gallery also showed works in conjunction with the Bridges 2017 conference. See also: "Bridges 2017 in Waterloo, Canada!," by Vince Matsko (Creativity in Math Blog, 8 August 2017) and follow @BridgesMathArt on Twitter to see posts by participants during the conference and other posts by and for the math and arts community.

Bridges 2017 - Nominee Gallery & General Mathematical Art Exhibition

The Plenary Speakers were varied and inspiring. Day 1 featured "Stumbling Into It: You Make Your Best Work When You Don't Know What You're Making," by Damian Kulash, the lead singer and guitarist for the rock band OK Go and director of some fabulously inventive and viral videos shown in his talk (see "The Writing's on the Wall"), and, "Fun with Fonts: Mathematical Typography," the Reza Sarhangi Memorial Lecture by Erik Demaine, mathematician, computer scientist and artist at MIT.

Day 2: "Motion Exposure: Telling the Story of Movement With Light Painting Photography," by Stephen Orlando, photographer (see "Photographer Stephen Orlando Captures the Movement of Musicians Through Light Painting" on Colossal); "Numbers with Personality," by Alice Major (Poet Laureate of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; "Aspects of Symmetry in Bobbin Lace," by Veronika Irvine (see her Algorithmically designed lace tessellations); and "New Quasiperiodic Architectures: Work in Progress from the Living Architecture Systems Group," by Philip Beesley, architect (see his Sculptures and Installations).

Day 3: "Natural Color Symmetry," by Frank Farris, Santa Clara University (see his digital works based on photographs of nature); "A Survey of Symmetry Samplers," by Susan Goldstine, Saint Mary's College of Maryland (view some of her mathematical artworks); and "Algorithmic Transformations: From Idea in Mind to Idea in Code," by Roman Verostko, artist (see his algorithmic art).

Day 4: "Sculptural Forms Based on Radially-developing Fractal Curves," by Robert Fathauer, Tessellations (art inspired by math and nature), and "Surprising Structures and Baffling Behaviors: Kinetic Sculptures Grounded in Geometry," by John Edmark, artist and designer (kinetic art).

Bridges 2017 - Plenary Speakers

There was a mathematical Poetry Reading session, Informal Music Night (organized by Mike Naylor), Theater night ("Structure: An Allegory," with Peter Taylor and Judy Wearing), University of Waterloo Art Gallery Reception, Film Festival (juried by Aubin Arroyo, Kim Davidson, Chantal Landry, Jos Leys, Cristina Oliveira and Bianca Violet).

There were so many fascinating concurrent sessions and workshops that it was a difficult to choose which to attend. This report gives just a taste of some of the many highlights of the wide-ranging, stimulating and congenial conference, along with some slideshows to give a glimpse of the beauty and mathematical substance of the presentations.

Bridges 2017 - Selected Sessions

Family Day at Bridges 2017 was organized by Kristof Fenyvesi.

Bridges 2017 - Family Day

Notable in 2017: The Reza Sarhangi Fund Art Auction raised $5,527, thanks to the artists who put their works up for auction and to all the generous bidders. The fund will provide travel funds for students -- the next generation -- to attend future Bridges conferences. Bridges invites donors to give online throughout the year at RezaFund.org. The Journal of Mathematics and the Arts celebrates its tenth anniversary this year and offers a free access to a selection of articles chosen by the Editor.

The annual Bridges conference is a wonderful example of an interdisciplinary gathering at which all the participants openly share their tools, findings and works. The 2017 conference organizers, participants, and the works in the Art Exhibition provided insights and inspiration to all.

Session Fun at Bridges 2017

There will be a Mathematical Art Exhibition held at the 2018 Joint Mathematics Meetings, January 10-13 in San Diego, CA. Stay tuned for the announcement of where Bridges 2018 will be held.

Works by artists in the Bridges 2017 and Joint Mathematics Meetings art exhibitions are also on AMS Mathematical Imagery. This slideshow is just a sampling. Visit the website to see hundreds more images in various media.

Bridges Artists on AMS Mathematical Imagery

--- Annette Emerson, AMS Public Awareness Officer


American Mathematical Society