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Constantin Brancusi: the Heideggerian Kehre (A Visual Essay)

SolInvictus Press 2008

Tot ce pare ca s-a sters/e pururea in faţă. (All that seems to’ve been erased / is forever facing us.) Mihai Eminescu

Myth and Number

Ideas are not enough. The simplicity of form, the precise mathematical balance, the architecture, and the materials too, must also be valued highly. (Nu ajunge sa posezi idei. Simplitatea formei, echilibrul precis si matematic, arhitectura trebuie sa le pretuim tot atât de mult, cât si materialele.) Constantin Brancusi

In 1872 Felix Klein proposed the Erlangen Program which was the group theoretic classification of geometry. Group theory can be considered the study of symmetry: the collection of symmetries of some object preserving some of its structure forms a group; in some sense all groups arise this way. http://www.math.niu.edu/~rusin/known-math/index/20-XX.html In the language of modern science, the symmetry of geometrical figures — such as the regular polygons and polyhedra — is defined in terms of their invariance under specified groups of rotations and reflections. Where does this definition stem from? In addition to the ancient notion of symmetry used by the Greeks and Romans (current until the end of the Renaissance), a different notion of symmetry emerged in the seventeenth century, grounded not on proportions but on an equality relation between elements that are opposed, such as the left and right parts of a figure. Crucially, the parts are interchangeable with respect to the whole — they can be exchanged with one another while preserving the original figure. This latter notion of symmetry developed, via several steps, into the concept found today in modern science. One crucial stage was the introduction of specific mathematical operations, such as reflections, rotations, and translations, that are used to describe with precision how the parts are to be exchanged. As a result, we arrive at a definition of the symmetry of a geometrical figure in terms of its invariance when equal component parts are exchanged according to one of the specified operations. Thus, when the two halves of a bilaterally symmetric figure are exchanged by reflection, we recover the original figure, and that figure is said to be invariant under left-right reflections. This is known as the “crystallographic notion of symmetry”, since it was in the context of early developments in crystallography that symmetry was first so defined and applied…The next key step was the generalization of this notion to the group-theoretic definition of symmetry, which arose following the nineteenth-century development of the algebraic concept of a group, and the fact that the symmetry operations of a figure were found to satisfy the conditions for forming a group…For example, reflection symmetry has now a precise definition in terms of invariance under the group of reflections. Finally, we have the resulting close connection between the notion of symmetry, equivalence and group: a symmetry group induces a partition into equivalence classes. The elements that are exchanged with one another by the symmetry transformations of the figure (or whatever the “whole” considered is) are connected by an equivalence relation, thus forming an equivalence class. Katherine Brading and Elena Castellani, Symmetry and Symmetry Breaking http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/symmetry-breaking/

second. but consider any kind of property of the objects. To generalise the concept of symmetry. and any of its properties… Symmetry often manifests itself in combined and generalised forms…Here we should emphasise the role of dissymmetry…[and of] combined symmetries.html . apply such transformations not only to geometric objects. Nexus Network Journal.GENERALISATION OF THE CONCEPT OF SYMMETRY …geometrical symmetries. "Perspective as a Symmetry Transformation". vol. In other words. http://www. 1 (Spring 2003). During this transformation one (or more) geometric properties of this geometric object remain unaltered.nexusjournal. third. 5 no. a transformation. first. but to any kind of object. replace the geometric transformation with any kind of transformation. any object. we can speak of symmetry if under any (not necessarily geometric) transformation (operation) at least one (not necessarily geometric) property of the (not necessarily geometric) object is invariant. Thus we make a generalisation in respect of three things: any transformation. investigate not only their geometric properties.com/Darvas.: in the perspective of artists…we find a combination of the symmetry transformations affine projection and similitude… György Darvas .. in a generalised interpretation of its meaning. We say that this property is invariant under the given transformation. What they have in common is that in all cases we perform a certain geometric operation.

nexusjournal.com/Darvas. Nexus Network Journal. 1 (Spring 2003).Affine projection is a symmetry transformation in which straight lines are transformed into other straight lines but angles are not conserved… Topological symmetry is a symmetry transformation in which the neighborhood relations between the points of the object are left intact.html . Straight lines do not necessarily remain straight. "Perspective as a Symmetry Transformation". 5 no. the distances between them as well as the angles between the lines connecting them are altered. A good example of topological symmetry is the lattice of the points of a squashed sponge… György Darvas . http://www. vol.

de/monographs/jablan/chap15. indexes). for example. or by deleting their boundaries and joining two or more adjacent fundamental regions. antisymmetry and color-symmetry desymmetrizations. since it does not prohibit the use of colors or some of their equivalents (e.g. all other cases where colors have been used for a desymmetrization without resulting in some antisymmetry or color-symmetry group…The term "external desymmetrization" will be used to denote a desymmetrization achieved by varying boundaries of a fundamental region. Under the term "classical-symmetry desymmetrization" (non-colored desymmetrization) we will discuss all desymmetrizations realized. should not be understood literally.. depending on the desymmetrization means used. Slavik Jablan. we can.emis. but includes as well.htm . The term "non-colored" used as the alternative for "classicalsymmetry". http://www.Within the desymmetrization method. by using an asymmetric figure belonging to the fundamental region. etc. distinguish classical-symmetry (non-colored).

can be described by permutation groups. So even more possibilities for modelling real structures are possessed by colored symmetry groups where N is equal to or greater than 3. Such color changes -. i.The desymmetrization can…be accomplished by means of colors… …we can…use colors such that it results in so-called colored symmetry groups. Colored symmetry involves change of colors (which…do not have to be interpreted as just colors. . for instance black and white. a colored symmetry group with only two colors. Antisymmetry is the simplest case of colored symmetry.all by themselves -. then this (colored) symmetry group is called an antisymmetry group.e. but as species of any polyvalent quality geometric or not). Thereby we can use several colors. namely the case where N = 2 (where N is the number of colors used).nl/groups/d2_patterns_2. from which we can easily determine subgroups as desymmetrizations. http://metafysica.html . When only two colors are used. and if it results in a colored symmetry group.

yu/vismath/radovic/index.htm .mi. Antisymmetry and Modularity in Ornamental Art www. Ljiljana Radovic and Slavik Jablan.ac.sanu.Antisymmetry and Modularity Neolithic artefacts from Vincha (Yugoslavia). Tisza (Hungary) and Vadastra (Romania).

htm .com/vismath/kappraff/kap1.emis.de/monographs/jablan/chap42. Jay Kappraff. Proportional systems based on phi .htm …each system of proportions gives rise to a sequence of 1's and 0's referred to in the study of dynamical systems as symbolic dynamics.Directly linked to these problems. and covered by the theory of similarity symmetry and conformal symmetry.tripod. and root 3 were the principal systems used to create the buildings and designs of antiquity… Root 2 and root 3 geometries also have connections to the symmetry groups of the plane [Coxeter 1973]. are the questions of the theory of proportions. the roots of which date from Greek geometry. It held a special place in Medieval and Renaissance architectural planning and it reached its fullest expression in applications of the "aurea sectio" (or the "golden section") and musical harmonies used in architecture and in the visual arts. Slavik Jablan. http://members. Systems of Proportion in Design and Architecture and their Relationship to Dynamical Systems Theory. root 2. http://www.

all of them are …a purely periodic continued fraction expansion. The members of the MMF are intrinsically related with the onset from a periodic dynamics to a quasiperiodic dynamics. with the transition from order to chaos and with time irreversibility. An elegant way of stating this result is The Golden Mean is the most irrational of all irrational numbers.yu/vismath/spinadel/index. the Nickel Mean…Some of the relatives of the Golden Mean have been used by physicists in their latest researches trying to analyze the behavior of non-linear dynamical systems in going from periodicity to quasi-periodicity… Obviously.mi. El Naschie. the Silver Mean [σAg].html Let me introduce you to the Metallic Means Family (MMF). as proved by Ilya Prigogine and M. the Copper Mean. …the sequences based on the members of this family possess many additive properties and are simultaneously geometric sequences.THE FAMILY OF METALLIC MEANS Vera W. de Spinadel www. The slowest converging one of all them is the Golden Mean. among other common characteristics. S. the property of carrying the name of a metal. since all its denominators are the smallest possible (ones).sanu. which is the reason why some of them were used as the basis of a system of proportions in Design. the Bronze Mean. Golden mean τ [usually φ] = (1+√5)/2 Silver mean θ = 1 + √ 2 Bronze mean ψ = 1 + √3 .ac. Their members have. Like the very well known Golden Mean [φ] and its relatives.

geocities. to be the optimal. (a differential equation like an oscillating binary switch). (edge of) Chaos Theory . Fractal Geometry and the Golden Mean: leading to an argument for an Autocatalytic Architectural approach based on emergent Self-Organised Criticality. This ratio acts as an optimised probability operator. and to be a basin of attraction for the edge of Chaos…The Golden Mean then. that are invariant about themselves). energy-minimising route to the region of maximum algorithmic complexity. economical but also elegant. whenever we observe the quasi-periodic evolution of a dynamical system. in quantum scattering… Nigel Reading. It is analogia exemplified…Number theory therefore also confirms the Golden Mean to be on the very cusp of Chaos.…The Golden Mean. It appears in fact.with topological consequences. is an archetypal fractal in that it preserves its relationship with itself (its inherent similarities under scaling are conformal symmetries . via Reimann's zeta function.com/Area51/Starship/9201/phimega/phimega. but also the quantum. http://www. in the most mathematically robust. Dynamical Symmetries: Autopoietic Architecture The Areas of Mathematical Synthesis Between Complexity.html . way.

"Each unique geometrical object is somehow or other connected to properties of the regular icosahedron". Felix Klein The icosahedron is connected to group theory via its symmetry group.

The fifth element, i.e., the quintessence, according to Plato was identified with the dodecahedron.

www.contracosta.edu/math/pentagrm.htm

The centers of the faces of a regular dodecahedron are the vertices of a regular icosahedron and the centers of the faces of a regular icosahedron are the vertices of a regular dodecahedron. http://cage.rug.ac.be/~hs/polyhedra/ dodeicos.html

Felix Klein, group of the icosahedron:

Ih

Ih

The icosahedral group Ih is the point group of symmetries of the icosahedron and dodecahedron having order 120.

http://mathworld.wolfram.com/IcosahedralGroup.html

Neolithic Stone Balls (ca. 2,000 BCE) representing the Platonic Solids and their Duals. From left to right: an icosahedron with embedded dodecahedron dual; a tetrahedron with embedded tetrahedron; an octahedron encompassing a cube; a dodecahedron (?) but no dual; and a cube with an embedded octahedron. www.class.uidaho.edu/ngier/polyhedra/goc.htm

A distillation of Felix Klein.com/page3.' http://www.html Kleinian group fractals have been popularized by the book "Indra's Pearls" by David Mumford.com/Slope_Tutorial_9. with a synthetic ‘formal simplicity’ emphasizing common projective tenets that fueled Klein’s old 'Erlangen program.hiddendimension. Caroline Series and David Wright: Indra's Net Indra's Necklace [a limit set formed by a chain of tangent circles] http://www. so too every substage of (physical) existence.241mumbers.html . Veblen and Coxeter’s works…unites all subgeometries.

cosmic spring of life (Marija Gimbutas) Cosmic snake winding around the world egg and the world disk Snake of the sun and moon Mycenae .Greece. neolithic Archimedean spiral Spiral.

Stone Age schematic (drawn by Marija Gimbutas) .

which are defined as embeddings of a circle in 3-dimensional Euclidean space. R3.wikipedia.Knot theory is the mathematical branch of topology that studies mathematical knots. http://en.org/wiki/Knot_theory .

sanu.ac. Pelepoponnesos in Greece The meandering symbol or labyrinth with a unicursal topology has one path.yu/vismath/morrison/index. http://www.sanu. never crossing itself and with concentric levels in its geometry.yu/vismath/proceedings/morrison.Neolithic tomb This inscribed clay tablet was found at Pylos. The Geometry of History.mi.mi. http://www.htm [Details on the topology of labyrinths: Tessa Morrison. 032147658. In strict mathematical term the unicursal labyrinth’s topology is that of a straight line… TESSA MORRISON. THE TYPOLOGY OF THE MEANDERING SYMBOL AND AN APPLICATION OF THIS TYPOLOGY TO THE CRETAN LABYRINTH .ac.html] . turning and changing directions from outside to the centre.

representations of the labrys are on Neolithic finds of "Old Europe“]. . known to the Classical Greeks as pelekus but which predated the arrival of the Hellenes in the Aegean world.Coin from Cnossos with labyrinth symbol [the word labyrinthos (Mycenaean daburintos) is probably connected with the word labrys. the labrys is the doubleheaded axe.

1970). Modularity in Art http://members.Mathews: Mazes and Labyrinths. Dover.tripod.Double axe from Dictean cave and the maze pattern on Wall of Palace. New York.htm . Slavik Jablan.H.com/ ~modularity/labris. Knossos (see. W.

the Thracian god .Thracian Alexandrovo kurgan (replica): the naked man represents Zalmoxis.

' The sacred implies tacit recognition that there are gaps. unconsciousness and consciousness. habit. Aesthetic wholes derive from ‘the pattern which connects’…Redundancy is a vital clue to patterning . The edges or the boundaries between subsystems of aesthetics and consciousness.the patterns that connect and their recursive nature . are where both gaps and interconnections occur.] Discontinuity and distortion are part of the recursive process. The essence of communication lies in the relationship between perceptual redundancy (which creates pattern{s}).aesthetic unity. that the maps that we create will never provide a complete description of the territory. In his writing . circularity does not mean a precise circle in which events repeat themselves in the same circular path.Cybernetics has circularity.] and the unnamed (territory). Here ‘difference’ is to be found and the differences that make a difference lie at the interface of sub-systems. as its central concern.together with change in this pattern . recursiveness. metaphor.it involves convention. “This important theme is discussed in Bateson's concept of aesthetics.unique in modern scholarship . Spencer Brown's Laws of Form calls ‘distinction’ and ‘indication’). Aesthetics is the unifying glimpse that makes us aware of the unity not able to be described in prose or prosaic consciousness. Only here can the pattern of differences .be perceived. lies at the interface between the named (the maps) [our means of describing the world arises out of notions of difference (or what G. repetition and practice” [Kathy M'Closkey. circular interlocking. incorporating a sense of the sacred. and the sacred which lies at the interface of map and territory. Thus the sacred implies tacit recognition of an immanent aesthetic unity derived through current practices which embody patterns of relations. . which cognitively links levels. though as Gregory Bateson pointed out. The sacred is the ‘integrated fabric of mental processes that envelops all our lives.

Moldova.The Vinča culture was an early culture of Europe (between the 6th and the 3rd millennium BC). and Ukraine. is a late Neolithic culture that flourished between ca. The Cucuteni culture. . 5500 BC and 2750 BC in the DniesterDnieper region of modern-day Romania. better known in the countries of the former Soviet Union as Trypillian culture or Tripolie culture.

and pointed nose. Vinca Culture. the Balkans. clothing. 3 3/8 in. The body is incised with lines indicating. H. (8. Ex European collection. 5th Millennium BC. with incised almond-shaped eyes. both ears are pierced. partial inlays remain. raised nasal ridge.NEOLITHIC POTTERY IDOL Cruciform.) . Ca.6 cm. perhaps.

.

Cucuteni-Trypillia .

Cucuteni-Trypillia

Cucuteni-Trypillia

A map of neolithic China, showing the legendary Nine Regions.

China (Neolithic)

China (Neolithic) .

China (Neolithic) .

China (Neolithic): ritual jade object .

existing in the islands of the Aegean Sea from 3300 . Cycladic figure .Cycladic art is the art and sculpture of the ancient Cycladic civilization.2000 BCE.

Cyclades .

Cyclades .

Cyclades .

Cyclades .

Cyclades .

Near East .

Mesopotamia or Anatolia .

Mesopotamia .

Mesopotamia .

Minoan axe head .

Minoan .

Minoan .

Mycenae .

Mycenae .

It dates to before the 13th century BC.One of the 17 coiled snakes found in the so-called "room with the idols" in Mycenae. (Above: Illustration from The Mycenaeans by William Taylour) .

There is a goal in all things. Create like a god. it is she that runs after us.Constantin Brancusi Don't look for obscure formulas or mystery in my work. going there is another. To arrive there you must remove yourself from yourself. Those closest to God have seen them. It is pure joy that I offer you. but when we turn our back on her. Glory doesn't give a damn about us when we run after her. work like a slave. To see far is one thing. Look at my sculptures until you see them. Constantin Brancusi . command like a king.

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The Kiss. paint on egg shell .

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Two views of Socrates .

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even the least eventful. Poarta Saratului (Gate of the Kiss."The supreme rite of initiation is to enter a labyrinth and return from it. and yet any man's return home has the value of Ulysses' return to Ithaca. Aleea Scaunelor (Alley of the Seats) 3. Constantin Brancusi Targu Jiu Monument 1. Brancusi called it Gate of the Beyond) 4. The sufferings and trials undergone by Ulysses were fabulous." Mircea Eliade The Endless Column is the negation of the labyrinth. and yet every life. Masa Tacerii (Table of Silence) 2. can be taken as the journey through a labyrinth. Coloana Fara Sfarsit (Endless Column) . Biserica Sfintii Apostoli Petru si Pavel (Saints Peter and Paul the Apostles Church) 5.

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At the same time.. Sufletul şi lutul formează o unitate. final. I had to merge all forms – in a perfect union. (Lumea poate fi mantuita prin arta. Chiar formele contradictorii trebuiau să se unifice într-o comuniune nouă. trebuia să fuzionez toate formele . separation of matter and spirit and any type of duality are an illusion. And it is necessary to go back to the beginning of all things. In my life philosophy.) Constantin Brancusi . and to find again all that has been lost… (Ma aflu pe fagasul cautarilor.Art may redeem the world.într-o unitate perfectă. care este legat de materie. Ne gasim cu totii la sfârsitul unei mari epoci. We all find ourselves at the end of a great age. Soul and clay form a unity. finală. separarea materiei de spirit şi orice soi de dualitate rămân o iluzie.) I had to show in an artistic form the sense of the spirit. în filosofia mea asupra vieţii. which is bound to matter. Si este necesar sa ne reintoarcem la inceputul tuturor lucrurilor. ) I walk the questing path.. si sa regasim ceea ce s-a pierdut. (Trebuia să arăt în formă plastică sensul spiritului. Concomitent. rapport. Even contradictory forms had to unite in a novel.

Study by Brancusi for the Gate of the Kiss .

The neo-byzantine frescoes were created by Iosif Keber. it was rebuilt between 1927 and 1939.In the Byzantine East. the church building is a true image of the cosmos. 1937. Saints Peter And Paul the Apostles Church is located on the Way of the Heroes axis and it was integrated into Brancusi’s monument. ea a fost reconstruita între anii 1927 si 1938 si inaugurata o data cu complexul executat de Brâncusi. Anghel Paunescu and Iulius Doppelreiter. Ridicata pe locul unei alte biserici ce data din anul 1777. 7 noiembrie 1937. on November 7. Anghel Paunescu si Iulius Doppellreiter). (Biserica Sfintii Apostoli Petru si Pavel se afla pe axul Caii Eroilor si a fost integrata creatiei brâncusiene. Pictura în stil neobizantin a fost executata în fresca de catre pictorul gorjean Iosif Keber. realizând o legatura între elementele ansamblului sculptural. iar lucrarile au fost urmarite de arhitectii Ion Antonescu. The church was inaugurated at the same time as Brancusi’s monument. Raised on the emplacement of an older church dating from 1777. . and the construction was supervised by the architects Ion Antonescu.

Bhagavad Gita .Everything existing is connected to Me like pearls on a thread.Chapter VII-7 Sketch by Brancusi on a photo of the site 1937 photograph .

Curierul Primariei nr. asa cum l-am aflat din batrani. exactly as it has come to my knowledge from times long past. an archaic symbolic motif I borrowed without any artist’s conceit. simpla intre toate.) Constantin Brancusi [Lory Sorin Buliga.The form of the Pillar. este aceea a unui stalp de cimitir de la noi. Targu Jiu] . un motiv simbolic arhaic pe care l-am reluat fara nici o ingamfare de artist. is that of a cemetery pillar . the most simple of all forms.6(49). Simbolismul Mitic al Coloanei Infinitului. 21 Iunie 2004. (Forma Stalpului.

atunci. while his son. Icarus. care trebuia să copleşească Măiestrele. Coloana fără de sfârşit este negarea labirintului… ) (Constantin Zărnescu – Aforismele şi textele lui Brâncuşi. ca să poată să se înalţe. then. a inventat aripile. Am dat din nou peste labirint pe când mă străduiam să-mi închid Păsările măiastre sub bolta unui templu indian. implorau o libertate deplină. lumina. I encountered again the labyrinth while I was trying to imprison the Birds under the vault of an Indian temple.. (Căutarea primitivului în artele plastice se îngemănează cu o căutare a Simplităţii.. Editura CARTIMPEX Cluj. iar fiul său. and. am avut revelaţia a cum să evadez din labirint. şi. Someone had to be sacrificed so that the Endless Column should be able to rise to the skies. Pentru ca acea Coloană fără sfârşit să se poată înălţa înspre ceruri. nemaiînţelegând cum să ademenesc. la bolta de marmură. Amintindu-mi de Coloana fără sfârşit din România şi de astrele care se roteau deasupra ei. it was revealed to me how to escape out of the labyrinth… The Endless Column is the negation of the labyrinth. being no longer able to understand how to lure the light over them.. 1998) . Aceste opere. încercând să evadeze din el. Icarus. Remembering the Endless Column in Romania and the stars rotating above it summoning it to fly. Daedalus. am renunţat. After building the labyrinth. Daedalus tried to escape from it by inventing the wings. chemându-i zborul.. fell. peste ele. I gave up the marble vault which would have overwhelmed the Maiestre…In order to be able to rise. trebuia să fie jertfit cineva. în concepţia mea. these works were imploring for full freedom. s-a prăbuşit.Constantin Brancusi Quotes The primitive’s artistic quest is twinned with his search for simplicity. după ce a construit labirintul.

desprins de propriul meu trup – mă aflu printre lucrurile esenţiale !) Every time I started a work.) I am no longer of this world: far away from myself. (Simplitatea este o complexitate rezolvata. Iar măsura şi numărul de aur te vor apropia de absolut.) …with my newness. (Proporţia interioară .. I had the feeling that something absolute was speaking through me – and then.) Simplicity is solved complexity.şi atunci. I no longer counted as an individual and I had no importance whatsoever.. detached from myself – I am among essential things! (Eu nu mai sunt al acestei lumi: sunt departe de mine însumi. (Prin artă.) (Constantin Zărnescu – Aforismele şi textele lui Brâncuşi... vin din ceva care este foarte vechi. (Eu forma o caut în tot ceea ce creez!. I hail from something ancient… (…eu.) I am seeking form in everything I create!.. Aceasta ar trebui să rămână relaţia fiecărui artist faţă cu Lumea. (De câte ori m-am apucat de vreo operă.este ultimul adevăr inerent.Constantin Brancusi Quotes Inner proportion – this is the final inherent truth. te vei detaşa de tine însuţi. eu aveam sentimentul că un absolut se exprimă prin mine . nu mai contam ca individ şi nu mai aveam nici un fel de importanţă.) By means of art. 1998) . This is how the relationship of the artist to the World should be.. in absolutely everything. în absolut toate lucrurile. Editura CARTIMPEX Cluj. you will be disjoined from yourself. Measure and the golden number will bring you closer to the absolute. cu noul meu.

by Mateja Budin

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