Dimensions: the Mathematics of Symmetry and Space
September 14, 2019 - December 19, 2019
Developed in collaboration with Oxford University’s world-renowned Mathematical Institute, this exhibition invites visitors to explore what it means to move in one, two, three and more dimensions.
Using stunning Islamic ceramics, Renaissance prints and contemporary woodcuts, visitors will embark upon a journey of discovery from ancient cultures into cutting-edge science.
The exhibition is the result of a ground-breaking collaboration between the Ashmolean Museum and Oxford University’s Mathematical Institute which involved graduate students and post-doctoral researchers contributing to the exhibition concept, co-writing the texts and labels with curators, and, most importantly, providing a sound mathematical basis to the entire show.
Beginning with a look at the dimensions we may think familiar – one, two and three – the exhibition uses an embroidered textile frieze, with its infinitely repeating pattern, to illustrate the first dimension. A selection of beautiful Islamic tiles demonstrates two dimensional space and introduces various types of two dimensional symmetry, as well as the geometry of tessellation. The third dimension is illustrated using woodcuts by Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528). Also on display are a small selection of amazing Neolithic carved stone balls, the original purpose of which still remains a mystery.
The exhibition culminates with the challenge of conceptualising and visualising further dimensions. Using contemporary woodcuts by Christiane Baumgartner, the concept of time as the fourth dimension is challenged, and a digital interactive allows visitors to explore the possibility of more dimensions outside the 3D world we inhabit.