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Shadows of Reality - Robbin, Tony - Yale University Press
Art and Architecture
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Shadows of Reality

The Fourth Dimension in Relativity, Cubism, and Modern Thought

  • Tony Robbin
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In this insightful book, which is a revisionist math history as well as a revisionist art history, Tony Robbin, well known for his innovative computer visualizations of hyperspace, investigates different models of the fourth dimension and how these are applied in art and physics. Robbin explores the distinction between the slicing, or Flatland, model and the projection, or shadow, model. He compares the history of these two models and their uses and misuses in popular discussions. Robbin breaks new ground with his original argument that Picasso used the projection model to invent cubism, and that Minkowski had four-dimensional projective geometry in mind when he structured special relativity. The discussion is brought to the present with an exposition of the projection model in the most creative ideas about space in contemporary mathematics such as twisters, quasicrystals, and quantum topology. Robbin clarifies these esoteric concepts with understandable drawings and diagrams.

Robbin proposes that the powerful role of projective geometry in the development of current mathematical ideas has been long overlooked and that our attachment to the slicing model is essentially a conceptual block that hinders progress in understanding contemporary models of spacetime. He offers a fascinating review of how projective ideas are the source of some of today’s most exciting developments in art, math, physics, and computer visualization.

Tony Robbin has had more than twenty-five solo exhibitions of his paintings and sculpture since his debut at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1974. He is a pioneer in the computer visualization of four-dimensional geometry and the author of Engineering a New Architecture, published by Yale University Press.

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