Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Geometry is in fashion!

This is a picture from Tokyo Fashion week which ended just couple days ago. Eri  Matsui collection was called "Mathematics, Art, and Fashion". Could this dress be a picture from a calculus textbook? Could the curve there be a tractrix? Then rotated around the bottom edge it would create a pseudosphere, which is a part of hyperbolic plane... or may be... Well, looks interesting.
The next picture I spotted today in German Financial Times with a story about the Tokyo Fashion Week. Mathematics clearly has been an inspiration also for designers Nao Yagi and Hokuto Katsui "mintdesign". Their "face jewelery"(???) reminds me of linkages or geometric design of the motion. More pictures here: 2010 Tokyo Fashion Week 
The Japanese fashion designers this year are doing great job of encouraging people to learn more and more about math and particularly -  geometry. Geometry in fashion appeared before but it was two-dimensional, it appeared in fabric design in 1960's and 1970's as in following pictures:

 Some revival of this kind of design can be seen in this 2008 dress from Nordstrom collection.
Japanese designer Kazuhiro Takakura graduated from university majoring in mathematics. In 2003 he launched IZREEL and made a debut as a designer himself.
Dai Fujiwara's designs are very mathematical. The whole essence of so called A-POC movement created by Issey Miyake is a mathematical description of the movement as you can see in this short video Issey Miyake A-POC inside Dai Fujiwara now is very successfully continuing this tradition. I first learned about his geometrical designs seeing this wedding dress created from origami patterns.

Last September Dai Fujiwara came to Cornell to meet with Bill Thurston because he wanted to understand Thurston's ideas about 8 possible geometries in three-dimensional space.

First he told us about A-POC principles in designing clothes. Then he explained that he became fascinated with Thurston's ideas seeing a model in his friend's math professor's office some time ago. Then he learned news about the proof of Poincare conjecture and its connection with Thurston's geometrization conjecture. He said he really wanted to celebrate these great ideas in a fashion collection.

More models were brought in the room, including some of my hyperbolic planes. Then Fujiwara and Thurston continued their discussion until late.

I was eagerly waiting what will come out of this collaboration. Dai Fujiwara's collection was shown on March 5th in Paris Fashion Week.
Here is an interview after the show with Thurston and Fujiwara. 

"We just felt that art exists also in the mathematical world, the scientific world. So next year probably... the people want to know more about where art exists, not only painting and drawing and also to see the magazine, so mathematics is coming very very close to art. So it's time to take this energy for fashion," Fujiwara told Reuters Television.

Geometry is appearing also in designs of a rising star in design world, recent graduate from Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts. First she surprised all by her knitwear designs with an unexpected twist.
As an avid knitter I am looking at this dress and trying to imagine knitted curves we teach in calculus instead of the cables. May be it would make calculus more tactile and appealing to students?

Recently Shaposhnikova, who is originally from Russia, came up with geometric sculptural designs.

She came up with a collection called Crystallographica

Sandy Black, author of Eco-Chic and Director of the Centre for Fashion Science wrote in The Independent on September 28, 2009
      My passion for the fusion of science and design developed at University. Although I learned to knit and     crochet as a child, it was while at university studying maths that my interest in knitting really developed, and I started to design and make unusual and interesting clothes. Being self-taught, I was not restricted by any boundaries and felt I could translate any idea into knitting by working out a logical way of doing it.
 This approach clearly owed something to my mathematical background, and for me, there was a natural relationship between the two. I often put many ideas and techniques together to create complex designs, many of which are are non-repetitive, and combine colour, texture and form so that the result appears totally natural. Even now as a research professor, knitting continues to be, for me, the perfect blend of creativity, craft and technology, which my education seemed to want to separate.

So - to be fashionable one has to study mathematics!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Funny news don't last for long

MONDAY, MARCH 29, 2010

One of my friends wrote to me
'It is always impressive when the lead story on yahoo is about someone you know and in a good way too.'

People who know me wrote to me how happy they are and even people whom I never met wrote to me saying that liked these news. Since some media had headlines like 'the craziest title', 'silliest title' it encourage some authors to send me their manuscripts politely asking me to tell what I think. Well, I will try to answer to them too.

This morning came with disturbing news about bombing in Moscow metro. A long time ago I lived for semester in Moscow, so I still remember those metro stations and how deep they are. The suicide bombers were two young women, perhaps Muslim. Then later another news - about Christian militia group in Mid-West planning to kill police officers. Funny news don't last long. 

I was trying to get back to the work I started before my trip to Iceland. I was reading 'Gabo on Gabo" and stumbled on a quote he wrote in 1944 when he was also deeply depressed about what was happening in the world:

'The human race is ill; dangerously, mortally ill - I offer my blood and flesh, for what it is worth, to help them; my life, if it is needed. But what is worth of a single life - we all have learned to kill with ease and the road of death is made smooth and facile. The venom of hate has become our daily bread and only nurture.'

Why there is still no antidote for the venom of the hate? 

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Next day after the fame

Yesterday was my "one day of global fame" :-). The Booksellers prize announcement was reprinted all over the world, I had a phone interview for BBC Russian service program Bi-Bi-Seva "News with Human Face" and spoke to the reporter from Associated Press. It was the main version of the story reported everywhere else, and for a while I had fun watching in google news coming in every 5 minutes and I could see where the story was appearing. I was certainly happy that I live in Ithaca and nobody really cares about it and not many people know me. Also since no monetary value attached to the prize I did not have any worries unlike Grigory Perelman who was in news 2 days earlier .I think it is fair that he got awarded this Millenium Prize despite all the controversies raised some years ago. 
The prize Perelman was awarded and the prize that made me "one day celebrity" are very different, however there is a tiny connection. Perelman proved more general conjecture - Thurston's conjecture from which Poincare conjecture just follow as a special case. Thurston formulated his conjecture in 1970's, and when he started to think about these different geometries, he came up with an idea to make a paper model of hyperbolic plane. It is like a very first step to start thinking about something that is hard to visualize. I hope that my crocheted hyperbolic planes are making this first step in understanding more complicated ideas easier.
What we know is just like these rocks but there is still the whole ocean to learn from.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Award winning title!!!

Now it is already March 26 in UK and it is become official - my book title has won Diagram Prize!

Many thanks to my publisher AK Peters for publishing this odd titled book! Thanks to the guy who nominated me - trust me - I do not know him - but since he won couple bottles of good wine I wish I would know him and could share a glass or two... :-)

Thanks to all voters! I was really impressed that they received more than 4500 votes, it means my book received 42% = at least 1890 votes. Wow!
Thank you family, friends, fans, crocheters, mathematicians, former students, Latvians, women and men... I did not know I had so many supporters, that so many of you wanted me to win my very first prize ever! And it is indeed such a nice prize - it is about being odd - precisely what I am! I have always done odd things and now I received a prize at least for one of them - it does feel great.

Best of all in The Booksellers announcement I liked what Mr. Bent said about my book:

“I think what won it for Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes is that, very simply, the title is completely bonkers. On the one hand you have the typically feminine, gentle and wooly world of needlework and on the other, the exciting but incredibly un-wooly world of hyperbolic geometry and negative curvature. In Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes the two worlds collide—in a captivating and quite breathtaking way."

I have to think about this most wonderful coincidence - I was in Iceland last week, and volcano erupted the day after I left. It erupted where two Teutonic plates collide and is creating now the most spectacular fireworks which you can watch here:
and now the new mountain is raising there:

If you want to purchase  my book -
 it is here with all reviews:
you can look inside:

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

it is about time to start

Welcome to the place where I am starting to tell the story about my adventures with crocheting hyperbolic planes and myself. I have received nice e-mails, found funny applications of the term "hyperbolic crochet" but the main thing is - it has connected me with so many people I would not have known otherwise.
This is the picture by Jon Enoch - he did it two years ago in London. I love it because it shows very well two sides of my adventures with crocheted hyperbolic planes - the red model is mathematical - I have been labeled a mathematician for many years, it also has a picture on it which is rectangular pentagons - you can have them only in hyperbolic plane. The picture connects me back with Theoretical Computer Science (it was my PhD thesis). The blue model is my artistic side - it is also the hyperbolic plane but now it is travelling to art exhibits and is having interested viewers.