The Newton Institute was delighted to welcome Professor Grenville Davey as the artist-in-residence for the duration of the programme The Mathematics and Applications of Branes in String and M-theory from January to June 2012. Professor Davey was working with Dr David Berman, one of the programme organisers, who is an expert in M-theory, an extension of string theory.
A Discussion on Art, Duality and M-theory
Professor Grenville Davey and Dr David Berman hosted a discussion session on Tuesday 10th July 2012 at the Institute to discuss their collaboration on works inspired by ideas from the cutting edge of contemporary theoretical physics, namely M-theory and duality. The discussion covered various aspects of the collaboration and the process by which artists and scientists can work together as well as the various ideas that prove inspirations and form the focus of new works.
As a complement to the discussion, there was also a small display of works, some in progress and some complete.
In a public event on 14 March 2012, David and Grenville presented a special session entitled String Theory, Duality and Art which consisted of an accessible introduction to string theory, a presentation of Grenville's work and a Q+A session.
Professor Grenville Davey, Turner Prize Winning Sculptor, has been a successful independent artist since 1986. His work was recently included in the Royal Academy's retrospective of British Sculpture and he has just completed a commission for the Olympic Park in London. Apart from numerous individual exhibitions he has extensive experience of working collaboratively.
Grenville Davey's sculptural work has long been concerned with relationships, familial resemblances and pairs. Through his previous residency at Queen Mary, University of London and in collaboration with Dr. David Berman (a string theorist in Queen Mary's School of Physics), his current work continues along these lines but is now inspired by notions in T-duality and mirror symmetry in string theory where there are surprising pairings of objects.
The viewer is challenged to see beyond difference and explore the relationships between pairs. Some objects are "self-dual", others vary enormously yet their relationship remains the same. Along the way there are hints and nuanced details that move the work out of the abstract realm into the human one. Although inspired and founded on the T-duality notion in string theory this work is not constrained by that and in that sense it also reflects a response of an outsider to the exotic academic environment of contemporary theoretical physics.