Science for Artists

Inspiration and Truth

The Fourth Dimension

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Excerpt from Physics of the Impossible .A Scientific Exploration into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel

 By Kaku, Michio (Book – 2008) p.232 (referenced works in Powerpoint below)

In one powerful sweep, in a celebrated lecture Georg Bernhard Riemann delivered in 1854, he overthrew two thousand years of Greek geometry and established the basic mathematics of the higher, curved dimensions that we use even today.

After Riemann’s remarkable discovery was popularized in Europe in the late 1800s, the “fourth dimension” became quite a sensation among artists, musicians, writers, philosophers, and painters. Picasso’s cubism, in fact, was partly inspired by the fourth dimension, according to art historian Linda Dalrymple Henderson. (Picasso’s paintings of woman with eyes facing forward and nose to the side was an attempt to visualize a fourth-dimensional perspective, since on looking down from the fourth dimension could see a woman’s face, nose, and back of her head simultaneously.) Henderson writes, “Like a Black Hole, the ‘fourth dimension’ possessed mysterious qualities that could not be completely understood, even by the scientists themselves. Yet, the impact of ‘the fourth dimension; was far more comprehensive than that of Black holes or any other more recent scientific hypothesis except Relativity Theory after 1919.”

Other painters drew from the fourth dimension, as well. In Salvador Dali’s Christus Hypercubius, Christ is crucified in front of a strange, floating three-dimensional cross, which is actually a “tesseract,” an unraveled four-dimensional cube. In his famous Persistence of Memory, he attempted to represent time as the fourth dimension, and hence the metaphor of melted clocks. Marche Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase was an attempt to represent time as the fourth dimension by capturing the time-lapse motion of a nude walking down a staircase.


Author: KC

I am Katarina Countiss, a multimedia designer. I like blogs, games, art and technology. I am curious about how things are made.

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