Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Concreting Abstract

The last semester at BITS Pilani is typically more relaxed, not so rigorous as compared to the previous ones, or let's say students make it so. On the positive side of which, it makes it easy to attend almost every cultural event happening on campus. One of which's a puppetry show. Though this wasn't like those which are traditionally portrayed. The katputlis were more innovative and it amply used effects of fluorescent lights and various sounds.

Out of the four segments in the show, there was one in which a bird accidentally falls on a tabla and discovers the sound of it. The bird goes on to try few things on the tabla. At the same time a spider is busy resonating sounds on web. Meanwhile a floating feather causes melodies on a violin. All of these integrate to create a wonderful symphony.

When this wonderful segment of the show was building up many people left the auditorium complaining about its abstractness (lacking in meaning to be blunt). That brought me to the point abstractness.

Modern art is often not taken seriously in non-art appreciating sections of the society. Mostly because of the inability of the art form to convey it's meaning in a definite way to the audience. I came across this article which partially satisfied my doubt: How to appreciate abstract art?

The notion of abstractness is very subjective. There is a Hindi Drama Club(HDC) in BITS which conducts stage and street plays in Hindi. Vineet who is a great fan of HDC plays lived in a predominantly HDC wing and often used to get inputs from them regarding various techniques adopted in plays, how to understand plays etc. For him many HDC plays were not so abstract which left me absolutely clueless.

Mathematics has its own mystic ways of baffling its students. A simple 1x1 square which is as real and tangible a mathematical concept as our existence, suddenly becomes an abstract concept when we consider the length of its diagonal. Mathematicians are so much fond of this very abstractness that maths quote books are full of this love affair. A quote by Paul Erdos taken from this page says

Why are numbers beautiful? It's like asking why is Beethoven's Ninth Symphony beautiful. If you don't see why, someone can't tell you. I know numbers are beautiful. If they aren't beautiful, nothing is.