Lecture on Math and Art in Berman Museum

The mathematics and computer science department will host a special lecture on math and art presented by Professor Annalisa Crannell of Franklin & Marshall College on March 29 at noon in the Berman Museum.

Prof. Annalisa Crannell

Prof. Annalisa Crannell

Crannell was the recipient of the Mathematical Association of America’s most prestigious teaching award, the Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo Award, in 2008. Her early research was in topological dynamical systems (also known as “Chaos Theory”), but she has become active in working with mathematicians and artists to develop materials on Projective Geometry applied to Perspective Art. She has worked extensively with students and other teachers on writing in mathematics, and with recent doctorates on employment in mathematics. She especially enjoys talking to non-mathematicians who haven’t (yet) learned where the most beautiful aspects of the subject lie.

Her talk will address the question “How do we fit a three-dimensional world onto a two-dimensional canvas?” Answering that will change the way attendees look at the world, literally: she will explain where to stand when viewing a painting so it pops off that two-dimensional canvas seemingly out into our three-dimensional space.

Cannell will also explore the mathematics behind perspective paintings, which starts with simple rules and leads into really lovely, really tricky puzzles. Why do artists use vanishing points? What’s the difference between 1-point and 3-point perspective? Why don’t vacation pictures look as good as the scenes look in reality? Dust off those old similar triangles, and get ready to put them to new use in looking at art! Free pizza and pop will be available.