Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef: colorful yarn and complex math to save coral reefs at the Smithsonian

To get people to appreciate the importance of ocean conservation to the future of this planet, we must highlight the importance of the oceans to our own future as well. Making this human connection can take many forms, from intellectual presentations to a more tactile approach . . . like crochet.


On October 16th, at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC, an exhibition opens that connects the very human art of crocheting with the complexity of shape and design of coral reefs. The Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef, a project started by the Los Angeles-based Institute for Figuring, will be on view in the Institution's Sant Ocean Hall through April 24th of
2011. By utilizing crocheting to produce amazingly realistic representations of various corals, the exhibit helps to make very real what some may perceive as beautiful but unreal and other-worldly.

At the core of the exhibit is the use of hyberbolic geometry - a mathematical theory of lines, curves and their relationships that manifests itself in natural forms like corals and can be effectively represented in crochet. It's a good thing too, because just reading about hyperbolic geometry can give you a headache, or at least leave you slightly dazed and confused.

Originally conceived by Margaret and Christine Wertheim, and supported by Quiksilver Foundation, the Embassy of Australia, and the Coral Reef Alliance; the exhibition is remarkable in its detail and realism. And like the organisms it replicates, it is dynamic and growing, as the Smithsonian provides other crochet artists with the opportunity to contribute to the reef.

The Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef- it's organic, it's colorful, and it's mathematically complex. Just like real coral. It's cared for by humans, just like the real coral reefs need to be. Because If not, it's sad to think but colorful yarn may be all that's left to remind us of one of the ocean's greatest treasures.
Learn more at the Smithsonian website.
Read about
hyperbolic geometry.

1 comment:

Dolphin Research Institute (Australia) said...

This is wonderful! we have a "Melbourne Reef" with "temperate species" opened in Melbourne two weeks ago. This is a fantasitc way to engage a whole new demographic with our marine loves and concerns.