2 + 2 = 5

Placing a scientific or mathematical framework on art always gets the geek in me going.  Here’s a particularly kinky attempt from Flowing Data…

The charts offer some wonderfully simple insights into their source characters.  Han Solo’s practicality is found in his chart’s orderliness – a to do list.  Only material objects get a tick, the force skeptically left blank.  Likewise with Rick Blaine, the two pie charts only slightly overlap, indicating that he only truly sees a fraction of you.

I recently wrote an essay on the paradigmatic and syntagmatic axes of recollection in both Hiroshima, Mon Amour and La Jetee.  If one thinks of a film as a graph, the x-axis would resemble the syntagmatic, that is, the relationship between each shot to its surrounding ones, and the y-axis symbolic of the paradigmatic, in that one could go down inside, or through, or beneath, the image to find traces of reality (allusions to other films or events in history, for instance).

The most fascinating approach to film using a mathematical approach, however, for me, is the simple concept of 1 + 1 = 2.  If each shot in a film is representative of value ‘1’, the overall viewing experience would be equivalent to how many shots there are.  But, as Eisenstein rightly argues, in film’s case, this overall value is far less than what the spectator feels.  It is the relationship between shots that provides the extra experience.  The dialectics two shots can create, or their synthesis – cinema, by its status of art, will never adhere to mathematics, as comforting as it is in trying to explain its effect through it.  Cinema is more than the sum of its parts.

Thus, as was the popular school ‘joke’ in year 4…

1 + 1 = Window


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