Fernando Zalamea

Workshop on Gestural Maths

Fernando thinks that when maths is deep, it should be simple and able to be explained by hand gestures. By embodying ideas, we’re able to more clearly think about their cultural implications. 
 
The most poetic way to grasp maths as a way of thinking is to move away from ideas of calculation and embrace a kind of gestural understanding. Like the motto of Mary in Metropolis by Fritz Lang — "the mediator between the brain and the hands must be the heart ” — gestures allow the body itself to express the abstract sense of mathematical thought, through a cordial (heartfelt), harmonious coupling between intuition and demonstration, a back and forth between matter and spirit. Somehow real hands can caress ideal concepts. 
 
This session is a shortened version of a three-month long seminar Fernando held in Bogotá. It will present a more intuitive, tactile way of understanding the mathematical ideas he uses to think about culture, ethics and art, concepts like incompleteness, abduction, structure and its absence; folding and unfolding, determination and chaos; a closing towards the positive and opening towards the negative; tension, impossibility, continuity and breaks. 

 
Fernando Zalamea is a Colombian mathematician, philosopher, cultural critic and writer living in Bogotá. He opens up the vast spectrum of modern and contemporary mathematics and the new philosophical possibilities they suggestto any of us who have ever read an epic novel, been moved by a piece of art, or wonder about the complexity of human understanding and social life.  His thinking — as summarised in English in his book Synthetic Philosophy of Contemporary Mathematics (Urbanomic x Sequence Press 2012) — weaves  together strands of the modern and postmodern, the rational and the romantic into a synthetic universality, endlessly revisable and updatable, and puts forward an idea of the trans and transmodernity as a term to encompass our unfolding epoch. 
 

Study Session General Info

 
Study Sessions are informal, slightly more intimate spaces and a chance to geek out. Some might be presentations, some might be workshops; each will open out the ideas and themes in the Episode, led by people who’ve been considering them for ages. This one is about the interconnectedness of mathematical ways of thinking and the complex back and forth of our cultural lives.
 
Image Description: Fernando Zalamea is stood in front of a flip chart talking, he is making a strong gesture - his right arm is thrust forward with the palm of his hand facing up, his left crosses his chest towards the upper right arm. He is wearing a light blue shirt underneath a dark blue suit jacket.
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