Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Hyperbolic Hyparxis: Margarida Sardinha's Impressive New Body of Work Comes to the University of Lisbon

“Henceforth, space by itself, and time by itself are doomed to fade away into mere shadows, and only a kind of union between the two will preserve an independent reality.” – Hermann Minkowski

I met the Portuguese geometric/kinetic artist Margarida Sardinha via Twitter in 2010. Since that time I have found her work ceaselessly interesting. From our first interview I was impressed with the breadth and depth of her studies and experience. Since that time she has produced several award-winning works including HyperLightness ad absurdum and London Memory multi+city. In 2015 the Lisbon-born artist took a deep dive into the geometric splendor of the Alhambra, producing a show called Symmetry's Portal.

To say I've become a fan of the artist would be an understatement, hence the pleasure I take in sharing her work here with you.

Her new show, on display from April 6 through June 6, is titled Hyperbolic Hyparxis, an exhibition comprising 60 new works for the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon. The monochromatic site-specific exhibition consists of Hyperbolic Hyparxis (an experimental film), Hyperbolic Curves (a 10ft diameter floating sphere filled with helium), Hyperbolic Polyhedra (4 large scale sculptures), Shadow Symbols and Points, Lines and Distances (respectively 36 and 20 works containing a digital background photograph and a three-dimensional polyhedron overlaying it). The five sets of works complement each other in a liminocentric way, thus, they repeat each other akin to recursive definitions in hyperbolic spaces.

EN: As usual, your new exhibition appears to synthesize art, mathematics and philosophy. What was the primary impetus for creating this new body of work?

Margarida Sardinha: I started Hyperbolic Hyparxis while still living in London in 2007 – I know it was a long time ago but all my projects start with very simple experiments and then they build up into a consistent body of work throughout the years for in that way I experience process based art. At that time I was beginning to research supersymmetry, string-theory and manifolds and I also did little animation try-outs with printed-paper polyhedra with curved lines on them. After I animated these models, the optical illusion of the curves rotating became a curled up flashing string that I envisaged as the behavior of branes (a point particle of zero dimensions) and strings (a brane of dimension one) in hyperspace of eleven dimensions. I became particularly interested in Calabi-Yau manifolds that are six dimensional forms where D-branes are viewed as complex submanifolds in the topological B-model of string theory. Of course one has to remember that these theories are purely mathematical and that no physical proof of them has yet been found, thus, images interpreting them are highly hypothetical.

Third Stellation of Icosahedron
EN: The Greek word Hyparxis means "essential nature." It's also a Neoplatonic term for the summit, beginning, or hierarch of a hierarchy. In what way is your work, by extension, reflecting Hyperbolic Hyparxis?

MS: Hyperbolic Hyparxis uses notions of hyperbolic geometry, especially its modification of the Euclidian parallel postulate and the Poincaré disk model, applied to a polyhedral hyparxis. A kind of hyperbolic multiverse made of polyhedra with recursive beginnings, centres and endings, or, using a Deleuzian post-modern term - a rhizome – meaning, a non-hierarchy or multiple interconnected hierarchies where any point of the rhizome can be connected with any other, and in fact, it must be. I chose the term Hyparxis from a Neoplatonic commentary on the “Orpheus Hymns” – “Nature, therefore, as indicating the hyparxis of divinity, is in perfect conformity to the symbolical theology of Orpheus, said to be without a father, and at the same time the father of her own being. For all the Gods, according to this theology, though they proceed by an ineffable unfolding into light from the first principle of things, yet at the same time are self-perfect, and self-produced essences.” In this description of the essence of archetypes or Gods, we realise that they are created and they also created themselves, besides, further in the book it is said that their powers are linked to one another, that their root is a multiple linked hyparxis.

Snub Dodecahedron
EN: What insights from Symmetry's Portal have you incorporated into this next set of works?

MS:  Apart from the polyhedral constant of my work I did not integrate the same aspects from Symmetry’s Portal in Hyperbolic Hyparxis. In fact, the two are very different in the sense that the first focuses on only two dimensions and the types of symmetries that can be found on such a plane; and the second suggests what six dimensions and higher could be.*

EN: Mathematics has clearly been an ongoing feature of your work. When and how did you personally become awakened to and so fascinated by mathematics?

MS: I studied mathematics, geometry and physics up to my A-level and I was very fond of geometry. When I went to Art College in London I put that world aside and concentrated on art alone but eventually when I left college I immediately went back into studying those subjects again.

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Hyprbolic Curves
For more details about the show itself, read the curator's blog.

Follow this link for direct access to the digital catalogue web page of the Hyperbolic Hyparxis exhibition.

EdNote: Documentation photography by Ivo Cordeiro 

Follow Margarida Sardinha's career through her website, www.margaridasardinha.com

* See Dan Hansen's discussion of Pythagorian number theology at his Benchmark Tattoo exhibition of 2015.

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