TITLE: Art and Science meet in Minimalism
NAME: Mike Ferris
COUNTRY: Canada
EMAIL: mikey_eff@yahoo.ca
TOPIC: Minimalism
COPYRIGHT: I SUBMIT TO THE STANDARD RAYTRACING COMPETITION COPYRIGHT.
RENDERER USED: POV-Ray 3.5
TOOLS USED: Photoshop to add name and to convert to JPEG
RENDER TIME: 3h 32m 37s
HARDWARE USED: 1.5 GHz Celeron Laptop
IMAGE DESCRIPTION:
BACKGROUND
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Minimalism in art is a term used to describe paintings and sculpture that thrive on simplicity in both content and form, and seek to remove any sign of personal expressivity. The aim of minimalism is to allow the viewer to experience the work more intensely without the distractions of composition, theme and so on.
Minimalism is also an aim of science. Scientists search for theories that are simple in both concept and mathematical form. The goal is to describe observations in the simplest way possible. In fact, if there should be two theories accurately describing a single observed phenomenon, the simpler of the two is considered to be the correct theory.
An example of scientific minimalism is Einstein's famous equation: E = mc^2. This simple equation, comprised of only two variables (E for energy and m for mass) along with one constant (c for the speed of light) tells us that matter and energy are the same thing. It describes the process operating within the sun that causes it to shine and provide the Earth with energy.
This equation falls into the realm of science known as cosmology. Long before Einstein, scientists struggled with theories describing the observed cosmos.
Early cosmologists described the relationships between the Earth, the Planets, the Sun, and the Stars. The Aristotlian view, from the fourth centuery B.C., described an immobile Earth surrounded by transparent celestial spheres upon which the Sun, Planets, and Stars lay. The rotation of these spheres caused the observed motion of the Sun, Planets, and Stars about the Earth. Because the
celestial objects lay on spheres, they would trace out perfect circles as the orbitted the stationary Earth.
The sphere was chosen because it is the perfect geometrical object. It has the highest ratio of volume to surface area of any three-dimensional object.
In the 16th centuery A.D., Copernicus changed our view of the cosmos by placing the Sun at the center. Still using the concept of the sphere, however, Copernicus also envisioned orbits as circles.
Less than 100 years later, Kepler strove to mathematically describe the observed motions of the planets. In doing so, he looked for a relationship between planetary motion and the five perfect solids: tetrahedron, cube, octahedron, dodecahedron, and icosahedron. These five solids are considered perfect since they are the only solids whose sides are made of regular polygons: the tetrahedron, octahedron, and icosahedron have sides that are equilateral triangles; the cube has sides that are square; and the dodecahedron has sides that are regular pentagons.
It is the work of Kepler that finally described planetary orbits in correct mathematical precision. The geometry of the five perfect solids failed. Kepler could find no relation between the solids and the planetary orbits. However, the attempt led Kepler to accurately describe planetary orbits using elipses.
It would take Einstein, three centuries later, to improve upon Kepler's discovery.
THE SCENE
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This scene, using artistic minimilism as the form, pays tribute to the scientific minimilism that led to a deeper understanding of the cosmos: the five perfect solids and the ultimate geometric perfection of the sphere, all made of crystal.
Sources
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http://www.artmovements.co.uk/minimalism.htm
Dan Falk, "Universe on a T-Shirt", Viking Canada, 2002
DESCRIPTION OF HOW THIS IMAGE WAS CREATED:
Simple shapes using "shapes2.inc". Everything is CSG.
Because there is a very small number of objects in the scene, I decided to experiment with area lights, photon mapping, dispersion, and radiosity.
The long render time is due to the photons, the area lights, and the dispersion. Without these, the same scene renders in 16 seconds.