Inspirations: Art of M.C. Escher

Two years ago, a Spanish filmmaker Cristóbal Vila shot an exquisite short movie “Nature by Numbers“, which captured the ways in which mathematical concepts like Fibonacci Sequence and Golden Number exist in nature. Vila has now returned with even more magnificent film called “Inspirations”, which tries to imagine what M.C. Escher’s workplace might have looked like.

Since you are probably well aware of M.C. Escher and his work by now, you may jump straight to playing the film. But be sure to pay close attention, and see how many references to great mathematical problems, puzzles, and optical illusions we have featured in the past you can count. Each one of the objects found in this film has an interesting story behind it – for example, Seven Bridges of Königsberg is a historically notable problem in mathematics. Same goes for Wheats and Chessboard story, one that talks about invention of chess.

Then there is The Great Wave off Kanagawa, Da Vinci’s Self Supporting Bridge, etc… Let’s see how many great stories and puzzles can you find! Be sure to share your findings in the comments section below, as I’m more than eager to see which ones I might have missed! BTW this video has provided me with endless inspiration, specially when it comes to decorating my office in days to come ;)

“What things would surround an artist like him, so deeply interested in science in general and mathematics in particular.” – Cristóbal Vila

32 Replies to “Inspirations: Art of M.C. Escher”

  1. That is awesome! I wish I could have a copy of the computer model of that room he must have made, so I could inspect each element more carefully. Very impressive.

  2. The moon going around the globe part is like the spinning lady, it seems to go clockwise at first but then changes to anti-clockwise when we get a 3d view. Very Nice :D

  3. My favorite artist,Escher, said that he could say more graphically than he could with words. For example, in Reptiles one sees the wine glass and bottle,the “special cigarettes”complete with JOB rolling papers, the agave plant used to make tequila, the peyote cactus, the pharmacist’s mortar for mixing drugs and the puffing reptile (dragon) which, I believe, is a reference to the Chinese term for smoking opium,”chasing the dragon.” Finally, the pentagon is an ancient symbol of evil.
    In other drawings one sees the distortion of space which is associated with opium dreams. I really don’t know what he is saying with all these things but I find him very interesting and welcome your interpretations.
    I recommend a visit to the Escher Museum in The Hague.

    1. The cactus is an example of Fibonacci’s numbers and the spiral galaxy, but I think it’s more than that.

  4. Truly a man before his time a great visionary. A man who could think outside the box, literally. Great Video I could watch it over and over and still find things I missed. Thank you Cristóbal Vila.

  5. not many people would get the rice stacks on the checkerboard.

    the story is that the person who invented chess, when asked his price by the king, said he’d like one grain of rice, doubled for each tile on the chess board, for each of the 64 squares, the king agreed to this, until his mathematicians told him that what the person was asking for was more rice than all of the rice in all of china, so the king beheaded him and took the chessboard anyway.

    as you could see, by halfway through the second row, the rice was already barely fitting into the square, and that amount doubles by just the square one after it, by my calculations, by the time it reached even square 30 it was at over 536,000,000, and that didn’t double at 60, that doubled at 31, so… I’m impressed by those mathematicians to do all that without a calculator or the internet!

    1. i feel you; i am noooo good in mathematics but it is amazing what sb who is interested in the subject, can do or create..AMAZING STUDIO/ VIDEO

  6. This, with all the references to other illusions, puzzles and questions, is your finest posting I’ve yet seen…

  7. At :50 cycloid curve
    At :52 Fermat’s theorem, briefly
    At :57 a Galton box, which illustrates the connection between the binomial distribution, Pascal’s triangle, and normal distributions

  8. Incredibly beautiful, geometric and surreal. I am familiar with Escher’s work and it did justice.

  9. The border of the chessboard is the optical illusion in which the lines look crooked due to their placement but are straight

  10. A wonderful bridge between art and science, built by Escher and brilliantly articulated by Vila! Amazing, beautiful and inspiring! Thank you!

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