Cuspid Catastrophe (PLANCHE INOX) 1965

"What happens to a square sheet of metal 1mt x 1mt two mm thick if you bend it inwards with a high power press from the middle of one side up to the center at 90°, and then bend it again in the opposite direction at 90° after fifteen cm?

The result is astounding.  

A few years after this experiment of mine, the italian mathematician  Franco Ghione  dropped in my Studio and told me that his colleague René Thom, was coming to Rome. Ghione wanted to show him a sculpture that could represent the cuspid surface, widely employed in Thom's theory of catastrophes, Ghione had some possible drawings, but browsing in my Studio he discovered it already made and shiningly polished. In Thom's theory reflections on the surface are of no scientific interest, but I still hope that some scientist will solve someday the problem of the endless vortex of the images reflected on my sculpture."



(...) Sometimes, for a highly complex mixture of reasons, it can happen that the sensibilities of an artist and a scientist can meet and coincide perfectly without one knowing anything of the existence of the other.
This is the fruit of an intuition that both share and which brings them to the same result although they take off from different suppositions and are directed at different goals.
This, for example, is the case of the sculpture "Piastra INOX" which Pierelli completed in 1965 and which perfectly coincides in form with the surface of equilibrium of the elementari catastrophe know by the name "cuspid catastrophe". But at that time René Thom's theory of catastrophies had not yet been born. It appeared a little later (1967-1968). And later still came the countless applications of the theory in the most various fields of the humanities, natural science and physics.
And it is interesting to note that it is the same "cuspides catastrophy", the one created by Pierelli, the model of which most often finds concrete application. It may be that the artist hit upon this catastrophy in his own way, by intuition, while searching for particular reflections that would succeed in decomposing the image of the subject. Pierelli's mirror surfaces mostly have the aim of deforming the reflected image in an irregular way, and placing ourselves within this mirror, we find an image of ourselves that is broken, contorted, incomprehensible, ever new and of psychological suggestions for our sense of ourselves. The effect is obtained with mirror surfaces that have, in a mathematical sense, certain singularities. It is these, the singularities, that are responsible for the shattering and absorbing of the image. Thus the artist by following his own path, his own researches, his own aesthetic taste, entered into the universe of singularities. By other paths and with other aims and in another manner, the mathematician met him there".

< Franco Ghione >




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