Math & Science is based on my romantic idea about mystery, problem solving, higher learning, and creative thinking.
Do Mathematicians, Physicists, Chemists and other intellectuals of that ilk still use chalk and blackboard? I have a sneaking suspicion they’ve progressed. I originally thought of this as a project photographing different blackboards with complicated proofs scrawled on them. Specifically, blackboards in the middle of rooms with nobody around. In my head these blackboards are surrounded by utilitarian, institutional 1950s decor as well. As I write this however I figured out a more realistic way to achieve something aesthetically interesting and a but less romantic.
In University graduate faculties across the globe there are some pretty smart people working on some pretty amazingly interesting and groundbreaking things. I’d like to document –in a series a photographs –some of the “figuring” of those people.
There may very well still be someone –or some group of academics– that are still working on blackboards so the original spark of an idea could maybe be realized in an image or two. I imagine now though that more common classroom things are items like; easel and paper, white boards, overhead projections, projections of computer desktops, pencil and paper, and maybe ipad, iphone and other electronic devices.
I’d like to take photographs of people thinking about their work, or actually bent over, and document some part of their work. Maybe these are simple images of a person standing beside an illustration of their work. Sort of showing it off, “look what I’ve done”.
I think it will look interesting, get me into a form of documentation that borders more on journalism and allow me to work with interesting, different thinkers. In a way I want to see if they think like I do, or feel like I do when I get an idea or figure out a way to execute something better. I’m also trying to figure out if others are sort of like me. I’m not comparing myself to very smart people who are actually producing work, but the emotions that go behind it.
I’ve always compared my process and the small moments of epiphany that I have every day with the feeling I had when I understood and could write down a proof in one of my high school math, biology, chemistry or physics classes. It’s the same feeling I have when I figure out a concept, or dream about an image, or take a picture that pleases me. It’s about moment of true understanding, and that moment is where one stage of the process stops and another begins. I realize as I write this that I love that feeling and the actual execution of something after that is difficult because the eureka moment was all I really wanted.
It’s why I like the idea of conceptual art, or at least the conceptualization part of conceptual art. It’s why I wonder sometimes if I’ll ever produce anything ever again, or just spend the rest of my life thinking of things to produce.