ARTISTS: Byron Peters, Sajdeep Soomal & China Stepter

What does it mean to organize the world into rational truths, stable categories, or strict systems of knowing?

dark brown hand with palm outstretchedWhat does it mean to organize the world into rational truths, stable categories, or strict systems of knowing? The historically uneven mathematization of the world has long stemmed from the desires and fears of its practitioners. Algebra was developed for the sake of property management. Axiomatic logic was developed to stamp out imperfections (in other words: the contradictions and mess of the world).

Mathematics trains and supports the colonial gaze, unfolding how its perceptive objects are constituted, arranged and opened for transformation. Derivative calculus is, by definition, the reduction of the infinite to a single world, to be operationalized and mobilized for calculation under a unified system of goals.

Our collaboration aims to break open the workings of mathematical and artistic abstraction. Together, we aim to bring into slowness the processes through which the world is perceived and chopped up, the way that ontological distinction is made.

Where does mathematics reside in the body? We might consider the thumb, the foot, the length of a walking stride, or the number of fingers as the roots of measurement in mathematics. Whose foot becomes the standard? In this way, the history of measurement and mathematics is built alongside questions of power, the inclusion and exclusion of bodies, and shifting standards of normativity. What is a mathematics of the gut? Of the stressed body?

We have spent the past several months reading about the history, philosophy and politics of mathematics. We have compiled a short selection of the essays, books, and films that pushed and pulled our ideas about mathematics in unexpected and generative directions. We hope that you might find these chronologically-organized readings helpful in your own projects and directions in life.

Edwin A. Abbott – Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions

Samuel R. Delaney – Tales of Nevèrÿon

Geoff Ryman – The Unconquered Country

Ted Chiang – Division by Zero

Chris Marker – Theorie des ensembles

George Gheverghese Joseph – The Politics of Anti-Racist Mathematics

Leone Burton – Moving Towards a Feminist Epistemology of Mathematics

Bonnie Shulman – What If We Change Our Axioms? A Feminist Inquiry into the Foundations of Mathematics

Mariana Kawall Leal Ferreira – When 1+1≠2: Making Mathematics in Central Brazil

Paul Lockhart – A Mathematician’s Lament

Laura Marks – Enfoldment and Infinity

Fernando Zalamea – Synthetic Philosophy of Contemporary Mathematics

Sujatha Ramdorai – Interview with Hidetoshi Fukagawa

Katherine McKittrick – Mathematics Black Life

Alexander G. Weheliye – Diagrammatics as Physiognomy: WEB Du Bois’s Graphic Modernities

Diane M. Nelson – Who Counts?: The Mathematics of Death and Life after Genocide

Fernando Zalamea – Multilayered Sites and Dynamic Logics for Transits between Art and Mathematics

EnergizedClippy – A Cruel Angle’s Thesis

Denise Ferreira da Silva – 1 (Life) / 0 (Blackness), or, On Matter Beyond the Equation of Value

Amber Musser – Consent, Capacity, and the Non-Narrative

Byron Peters – Pure Difference

SF Ho – Trampoline Hall Talk

Natascha Sadr Haghighian – How to Spell the Fight: Fish and Fire

Samuel R. Delaney – The Atheist in the Attic

SF Ho – How to Draw a Line

Byron Peters – Notes on What-Determines-What

Nicolas Gisin – Mathematical languages shape our understanding of time in physics

C. Thi Nguyen – Games: Agency As Art

Stefan Helmreich – Wave Theory ~ Social Theory

Natali Wolchover – Does Time Really Flow?

Alexander Galloway – The Gender of Math

China Mae Stepter is currently attending Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education where she is a doctoral candidate in two programs: Curriculum & Teacher Education in Math (CTE: Math) and Race, Inequality, and Language in Education (RILE). She is concurrently earning a certificate in Research Practice Partnerships (RPP). Her research work focuses on identifying and addressing aspects of mathematics education that restrict students’ access to learning and engaging in classroom-based mathematics. In addition, her own academic interests in mathematics are at the intersection of mathematics, art, and imagination. She is currently the Elementary Math Faculty at Alder Graduate School of Education and has taught in teacher credential programs at the University of San Francisco and Stanford University. China received her BA and Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from California State University, Sacramento. She also holds supplemental teaching credentials in English and Social Studies.