Physics Comes to the Defense of Modern Art
By Eli Epstein-Deutsch
posted: 07-28-11

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If Duchamp's "Standard Stoppages" lampooned the precise measuring systems of scientists, a Harvard mathematician is now doing something of the opposite for Jackson Pollack: rescuing him from the perception that abstract expressionists are just random paint-slingers. Through a close data analysis of "Untitled 1948-49," professor Lakshminarayanan Mahadevan uncovered some of the secrets of Pollack's technique: he must have "held his brush or trowel high off the canvas, moving it slowly as he let out a flow of paint that narrowed and sped up as it fell." Mahevedan's study of fluid dynamics tuned him in to notion that Pollack was making use of properties in this field that scientists were decades away from understanding. "Inertial, gravitational, and viscous coiling regimes" are contemporary physicists' terms for what Pollack was tapping into -- by throwing, pouring, ladling, slathering, and otherwise dolloping and shoveling paint onto canvases. Of course Pollack did this in the most American, mythopoetic way possible. Perhaps next the physicists should try to put their theories into action? ...Source
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