I have nothing against combining art and mathematics. After all, Leonardo da Vinci still stands as a major example who successfully did this, right? But if you are going to do it, well, at least do it correctly: I have recently read that an artist who created a sculpture to depict first few numbers from the famous Fibonacci sequence actually did not:
Maltese artist Norbert Francis Attard created a sculpture titled “Boundaries of Infinity” with a seemingly nice Fibonacci series. The work was part of last year’s Beaufort 04 arts parcours on the Flemish coast and now has a permanent home in front of the town hall in De Panne.
It is not to be found, however, in the De Panne sculpture, as alert mathematics teacher Dirk Huylebroeck recently discovered. Attard, who was paid €10,000 for the work by the De Panne city council, made a blunder. His series goes 1,597 … 2,584 … 4,541. That last number should be 4,181. De Panne mayor, Ann Vanheste, has demanded that the artist fix the mistake.
Attard tried to make the best of it. “It is indeed an artwork about perfection and infinity,” he told the VRT. “But it was made by a man, so there’s an error in it. That fits in perfectly with what I was trying to say.”
I think Mr. Attard could have simply said: “Well, it is not the Fibonacci series after all, let’s call it the Attard series, and we’ll have a deal, shall we?” 😉 On the other hand, the story has a huge potential to draw the thinker into age-old philosophical discussions. Nevertheless, it could be a fair compromise if we agreed upon a similarity metric between series and then pay the artist based on how close he got to his original claim. Life is the art of approximation after all, so why not convey this message to the people who will enjoy this piece of ‘art’?