Applied Mathematics: The Astrophysics of Modern Art

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Applied Mathematics: The Astrophysics of Modern Art
Applied Mathematics: The Astrophysics of Modern Art

Astrophysics of Modern Art

Mathematical methods used by astrophysicists to classify galaxies into types are also suitable for characterizing various currents in abstract art.

Jonas Mureika of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and his colleagues subjected abstract paintings, including those by action painter Jackson Pollock, to multifractal analysis. They examined the shape of the patches of one color and the transitions between two color patches.

The researchers found that the analysis could differentiate between different currents in abstract painting, but not between different painters. However, this is possible based on the patterns of color transitions and could therefore also be used to identify paintings, according to Mureika and his colleagues. However, they did not succeed in using a fractal reconstruction to filter out individual typical signatures that could be regarded as characteristics of certain currents.

Mureika and his team want to find out in their search for fractal structures in paintings – i.e. patterns that resemble themselves and are repeated on a small scale – whether certain variants are hidden in them that have an unconscious effect on the viewer – by they give him information about how the work was created, for example. According to the researchers, mirror neurons could be responsible for this. These special neurons become active when someone observes the movements of others and thereby grasps the meaning of the action: they could form the bridge between the first visual processing of the impression of the picture and the knowledge derived from it, through which actions the painting originated.

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