ISBN : 9780198809982
Algebraic Art explores the invention of a peculiarly Victorian account of aesthetic form, and it traces that account to a surprising source: mathematics. Victorian mathematicians reconceived mathematics as a formal rather than a referential practice--the value of a claim lay not in its capacity to describe the world but its internal coherence. This concern with formal structure produced a convergence between mathematics and aesthetics: mathematicians wrote fables describing non-Euclidean spaces, logicians reconceived symbolism, and physicists described reality itself as consisting of shapely and beautiful patterns. Artists, meanwhile, conceived their work as a 'science' of form, whether as lines in a painting, twinned characters in a novel, or wavelike stress patterns in a poem. Algebraic Art shows that artworks we tend to regard as outliers to mainstream Victorian culture were expressions of a mathematical formalism that was central to Victorian culture and continues to shape ou
Introduction; 1 Geometry: Math for Math's Sake: Non-Euclidean Geometry and Aestheticism; 2 Algebra: Symbolic Logic and the Logic of Symbolism; 3 Analysis: Magic Mirrors: Formalist Realism in Victorian Photology and Photography; 4 Analogy: The Physics and Poetics of Analogy; 5 Invariant Forms: '[T]he bonds of verse' Form as Discipline; Coda: '[T]o bury Euclid deep in the living flesh'