imaginary i

Saturday, Nov 11, 2023 – Apr 7, 2024

227 State Street, Madison, Wisconsin, 53703

imaginary i compares how artists and mathematicians utilize constructs of the imaginary, or complex numbers, to envision the future and reclaim, retrace, and reveal past patterns. When examining MMoCA’s collecting patterns, there emerges a history of acquisitions that dovetails with explorations of science and math.

Together, art, math, and science explore and seek out unknown worlds and concepts projecting future and undiscovered realities. Artists utilizing mathematical iterative processes, such as Charles Gaines, those exploring modeling the infinite, such as Bruce Conner, and Erika Blumenfeld, who reflects the scientific realm, reveal new ways of looking that open dialogues on potentialities.

Pairing works from the MMoCA collection with contemporary artists engaged in similar pursuits, the exhibition postulates that science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM), have coalesced within the collection for the last half-century. Further research into the history of donors and the relationship with the University of Wisconsin-Madison infers an inherent interest in seeking out the mathematical and scientific in art. For example, renowned mathematician and professor at UW-Madison Rudolph Langer provided the founding gift of artwork that established MMoCA’s collection.

Complemented by humanities-based programming, collaboration with K-12 educators, and onsite activities for families in the Learning and Activity Centers, the exhibition will utilize data visualization techniques to develop conversations around the vital role of the arts and humanities in conjunction with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

Image: Michelle Grabner, Untitled, c. 2005. Painting, 44 x 45 inches. Gift of Nancy Mladenoff and J.J. Murphy, Collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.