Curated by Lawrence Weschler, Show features Intricate Drawings, Paintings and Sculptures
Using Original Breakthrough in Rendering of Visual Space, Identical Twin Brothers, Artists Creating Dramatic Drawing of Flatiron Building – Outdoors Daily on 23rd Street & Broadway


NEW YORK, NY (July 29, 2014): The National Museum of Mathematics (MoMath) announces the extension of Compounding Visions: The Art of Ryan and Trevor Oakes through Sunday, September 14. The first art exhibition in Composite, the Gallery at MoMath, Compounding Visions features spherically concave drawings of realistic scenes, algorithmic watercolor paintings that create oceanic expanses of waves stretching as far as the eye can see, and intricate sculptures built with thousands of pipe cleaners, matchsticks, and squares of corrugated cardboard that self-emerge into complex forms.

The artists, Ryan and Trevor Oakes, identical twins from Colorado, now based in New York City, have been engaged in conversations about the nuances of vision since they were children, and they explored their mutual fascination with vision throughout grade school and during college at Cooper Union. Since graduating in 2004, they have continued this dialogue through a body of jointly built artworks that address human vision, light, perception, and the experience of space.

“Through their art, Ryan and Trevor Oakes bridge two worlds, expressing both the mathematical nature of art and the artful nature of mathematics,” said Cindy Lawrence, MoMath co-founder and co-executive director. “They are true artistic and mathematical innovators who are revolutionizing the way we explore perspective, and we are delighted to extend Compounding Visions so that more visitors can experience their work first-hand.”

Compounding Visions focuses on two phases of the Oakes’ art – the early emergent form sculptures that led to their consideration of human vision and light, and curved drawings made by a method they invented for rendering the visible world onto the interior of a spherically concave surface.

“Much of our art came from exploring repetitive combinations of procedures and forms, with a dose of analyzing human vision sprinkled over it all,” said Trevor Oakes. “Many of the projects that came out of this approach fuse art and math.”

To avoid the distortions that occur when the 3-dimensional world is rendered onto a flat canvas, the Oakes built a concave metal easel that enables them to sketch directly onto the inside of a sphere. Rather than using lenses or mirrors to project an image onto canvas, the twins cross their eyes until an object floats onto their paper’s edge — and then they trace it. The technique has been described as one of the most original breakthroughs in the rendering of visual space since the Renaissance. The easel the twins use to reproduce skylines and scenes using their cross-eye technique, dubbed an “optical cockpit” by the show’s curator, as well as a dozen concave drawings made with the easel, are featured in Compounding Visions.

“Although we were never trained in mathematics, and are not thoroughly versed in it, recently, thanks to introductions facilitated by the magician, Mark Mitton, we began a dialog with several exceptional living mathematicians, including George Zweig, Chaim Goodman-Strauss, and John Horton Conway,” said Ryan Oakes. “We learned of several instances where our art projects sit in precisely the same rather complex territory mathematicians explore. MoMath offered the perfect venue to build a show illuminating these compelling connections.”

As a live, performance-based component to the exhibition, throughout the run of the show, the Oakes have been using their innovative technique to create a concave drawing of the iconic Flatiron Building that riffs on Edward Steichen’s famously haunting 1904 photo of that NYC landmark. The drawing is currently halfway done and is expected to be complete by the end of August. On most weekdays, the twins can be seen in the public plaza at the intersection of 23rd Street and Broadway donning their “optical cockpit” and creating the drawing.

MoMath is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission to Compounding Visions: The Art of Ryan and Trevor Oakes is included with the price of museum entrance. Tickets are $15 for adults and $9 for children younger than 12. Children under age 2 are free. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit momath.org.


About the National Museum of Mathematics

The National Museum of Mathematics (MoMath) strives to enhance public understanding and perception of mathematics in daily life. The only math museum in North America, MoMath fulfills an incredible demand for hands-on math programming, creating a space where those who are math-challenged as well as math enthusiasts of all backgrounds and levels of understanding- can revel in their own personal realm of the infinite world of mathematics through more than 30 state-of-the-art interactive exhibits. MoMath has also been awarded the bronze 2013 MUSE Award for Education and Outreach by the American Alliance of Museums.

Media Contacts:

Brittnie Mabry, Phil & Co., brittnie@philandcompany.com, 646.490.6446

Amanda Bush, Phil & Co., amanda@philandcompany.com, 646.490.6446