Curtis McMullen

Cabot Professor of Mathematics
Harvard University
Cambridge, MA USA
I think of mathematics and art as disjoint undertakings with opportunities for mutual appropriation. For my current, evolving exhibit in Cambridge, I appropriated a neglected wall in a busy public lobby, and used it to display digital prints without categorizing them.

As a strategy, the first iteration was limited to large format, black and white prints of circles -- thousands of them -- in patterns arising from hyperbolic 3-manifolds. The exhibit includes the first image of a `Sierpinski carpet' limit set (1995), as well as current renderings of reflections groups.

The print below, coming from an acylindrical manifold with order 5 symmetry, will appear in the exhibit at Brown / ICERM.
Negatively curved crystals
152 x 91 cm
large format b&w graphics on heavy matte paper
2019
Negatively curved crystals
152 x 1000 cm
large format b&w graphics on heavy matte paper
2019
A series of 6 pieces, 3x5 and 3x3 feet each, currently on display at Harvard University. Each image shows a configuration of (as many as 500,000) circles generated by a 3D hyperbolic reflection group. A student-constructed polyhedron is in the foreground.

Caption: Imagine the Universe is a periodic crystal, warped into negative curvature by gravity. In such a world, the thin walls of the crystalline structure might cut out a pattern of circles visible in the sky at night. This exhibit gives a small sample of the infinitely many patterns that can arise.