An Iconography of Reason and Roses

Sarah Stengle
Bridges: Mathematical Connections in Art, Music, and Science (2000)
Pages 161–168


The author uses mathematical elements from old textbooks and engineering manuals in her artwork. This paper is a semiotic analysis of the mathematical imagery used. Semiotics, or the study of signs, is central to the concerns of twentieth century art. While most bridges between mathematics and art start by using mathematical principles to determine or augment an image, the author argues that her work uses artistic principles to augment the perception of the mathematics. Both approaches represent legitimate bridges between the disciplines, even if the former is more familiar than the latter. Many of the beautiful images and objects generated by the application of mathematics to artwork are visually compelling, but are conceptually removed from the critical dialogue associated with fine art. The author, who is an artist, believes that while the work does not break new ground mathematically, it does connect the disciplines of mathematics and art by providing an original examination of the semiotics of both disciplines.