The Poetic Enchantments of Science

21 April 2017
2pm – 4pm
Deakin Downtown

Internationally noted writer and exhibition curator Margaret Wertheim presents the latest in the REDI Seminar Series, in conjunction with the School of Communication and Creative Arts.

Event details

Welsh writer Merrily Harpur wrote: 'The duty of artists everywhere is to enchant the conceptual landscape.' Wertheim proposes that it may not be the duty of scientists to produce conceptual enchantment, but that this is one of the goals scientists and mathematicians achieve.

In 2003, Wertheim founded the Institute for Figuring (IFF), a collaborative enterprise with her artist twin sister Christine that is dedicated to 'the poetic and aesthetic dimensions of science and mathematics.'

The IFF can be conceived of as a "play tank" – a new kind of practice for exploring creative engagement with topics ranging from geometry and topology, to physics, computation, and biological form. Here, Margaret will discuss the methodologies she has developed for shaping and sharing imaginative speculative play practices that provide insight into the realms of math and science. From a worldwide project to model coral reefs using the art of crochet, to building giant fractals from tens of thousands of fluorescent-coloured business cards, Wertheim’s practice offers experiences for playing with ideas.

About the speaker

Margaret Wertheim is an internationally noted writer, artist and curator. Her work focuses on relations between science and the wider cultural landscape.

The author of six books, including The Pearly Gates of Cyberspace and Physics on the Fringe, Margaret has written for the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, New Scientist, Washington Post and Aeon. She is also a contributing editor at Cabinet.

Through the IFF, Margaret has designed exhibitions for galleries and museums in a dozen countries, among them the Hayward Gallery, London, and the Smithsonian’s National
Museum of Natural History, Washington D.C. The IFF’s “Crochet Coral Reef” project – created by Margaret and twin sister Christine – is the largest participatory science-and-art endeavour in the world. It has been shown at the Andy Warhol Museum (Pittsburgh), Science Gallery (Dublin), New York University Abu Dhabi, and elsewhere. Through an unlikely conjunction of handicraft and geometry, the "Crochet Coral Reef" offers a window into mathematics while addressing the issue of reef degradation due to global warming.

Margaret Wertheim is a PhD candidate in Deakin University’s Faculty of Arts and Education.

Register your interest

This is a free event, however registrations are essential.


Key information

Date & Time

Friday 21 April 2017
2pm – 4pm


Deakin Downtown
Level 12, Tower 2
Collins Square
727 Collins Street
Melbourne, VIC 3008

Contact details

Research for Educational Impact (REDI)
+61 3 9246 8185
Email REDI