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Thessaloniki History Center - April 10, 2009

All M.C. Escher works (c) 2009 The M.C. Escher Company - the Netherlands.
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Self-referential to self-sarcastic, often at the boundaries between feasible and infeasible, flat and spherical, two-dimensional and threedimensional, finite and infinite, constant and variable, visible and invisible, the ingenious Dutch artist Maurits Cornelis Escher (1898-1972) is nowadays recognized as a significant mathematician, too, despite his self-proclaimed total lack of mathematical culture. His possibly best known achievement, that is the carving of geometrical tilings of the plane into most symmetrical embracings of sundry animals, fish, birds, and reptiles, gives to this presentation its main topic and its title.

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M. C. Escher (1919)

Life is a school in which we exercise ourselves in loneliness.

M. C. Escher, 1955

I am beginning to speak a language that is understood by only very few. This makes my loneliness greater and greater.

M. C. Escher, 1959

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Eight Faces (1922)

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4+4=8

A contour line between two interlocking figures has a double function, and the act of tracing such a line therefore presents a special diffi culty. On either side of it, a figure takes shape simultaneously. But, as the human mind can t be busy with two things at the same moment, there must be a quick and continuous jumping from one side to the other. The desire to overcome this fascinating diffi culty is perhaps the very reason for my continuing activity in this field.

M. C. Escher, 1964
ESCHER on ESCHER: EXPLORING the INFINITE, p. 32

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Hand with reflecting sphere (1935)

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[Senglea, Malta] Balcony (1945)

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Print Gallery (1956)

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Convex and Concave (1955)

In various ways Escher points out to us that the staircase on the right is actually an arch (towel on window, hanging pitcher, trees), while the staircase on the left is indeed a staircase (maid, sitting passerby, boat): convex on the left, concave on the right

The lady faces east, the gentleman faces north, therefore the visitors have room to place their ladder and climb up!

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Belvedere (1958)

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Detail from Belvedere - contemplating a crooked (but nonetheless possible) cube

The secret of perpetual flow is, once again, in the pillars!

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Waterfall (1961)

Beware of Windows!

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Comparison: the impossible triangle Of Oscar Reutersvard and Roger Penrose 17 (threefold, rather than fourfold, turn)

Unless we view the colorless region as white-colored (rather than hollow), Moebius Strip I is impossible.

Self-reference (tail-biting snake) is combined here with threefold turn.

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Moebius Strip I (1961)

Simultaneous views of North Pole and South Pole!

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Sphere Spirals (1958)

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Moebius Strip II (1963)

The two ends of infinity?

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Whirlpools (1957)

Two contrasting worlds?

Reflection

Rotation (by 180 degrees)

Glide Reflection? NO

Glide Reflection? YES

Glide Reflection = Reflection + Translation


25

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otif with Reptiles (1941)

Rotation pairs

Glide reflection pairs

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Drawing Hands (1948)


(Two-dimensional or three-dimensional? Glide reflection or Rotoreflection?)

Glide reflection

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Unicorns [1950] Vertical glide reflection (heads, tails)

A strictly geometrical relative of Unicorns: vertical glide reflection of two kinds (tails, heads)

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Horsemen [1946] Vertical glide reflection (manes, buttocks)

Doris Schattschneider, Visions of Symmetry, p. 111

Two possible stages of evolution of Horsemen

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Horsemen (on a Moebius strip) [1946]

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[1955] Vertical glide reflection (beaks, backs)

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Swans (on a Moebius strip) [1956]

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Vertical glide reflection (birds, fish) [1941]

Copyright MIT Press 1981

Comparison: Peruvian birds -- fauna without tiling (Peter Stevens, Handbook of Regular Patterns, p. 188)

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[ 1961] Horizontal glide reflection (noses, necks)

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[1960] Perpendicular glide reflections (noses) 2 twofold turns (tales, fins)

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[1942] Perpendicular glide reflections (tails) 2 twofold turns (eyes-fins)

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[1942]

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[1942]

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[1965]

Copyright MIT Press 1981

Comparison: Congolese parallelograms -tiling with no fauna


(Peter Stevens, Handbook of Regular Patterns, p. 236)

Despite their visual differences, all six preceding examples belong to the same symmetry type:

46

QuickTime and a TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor are need ed to see this picture.

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[1942] 4 twofold turns (4 feet) allowed by the absence of glide reflection

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[1938] 4 twofold turns (chins, necks, bellies, buttocks)

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[1939] 3 threefold turns (heads, right knees, left feet)

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Escape from the plane [Reptiles (1943)]

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[1938] 3 threefold turns (heads, left knees, right feet)

Return to the plane


[Cycle (1938)]
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[1942] Sixfold turn (left hands), threefold turn (right knees), Twofold turn (right hands)

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Development (Hexagonizing lizards) [1939]

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[1942] Sixfold turn (tails), threefold turn (heads), twofold turn (left fins)

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2 fourfold turns (left feet, right hands), 1 twofold turn (noses - knees) [1959]

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Development 1 (squaring lizards) [1937]

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[1941] Horizontal and vertical reflection, fourfold turn (wings), twofold turn (feet)

Comparison: Moorish-like tile -- Barcelona, 2001 (http://www.oswego.edu/~baloglou/103/barca.html)

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[1952] Reflection in 3 directions (3 threefold turns: noses-tails)

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[1959] Reflection in 3 directions (2 threefold turns: noses-tails, fins)

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[1953] Vertical reflection and glide reflection (a type contained the previous three types)

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Vertical reflection, horizontal glide reflection (and twofold turn at crab legs) [1941]

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[1959] - ( )

The eminent geometer H. S. M. Coxeter, a personal friend of Escher, has written a paper where he proves that the white lines intersect the circumference at ~800: H. S. M. Coxeter, The Non-Euclidean Symmetry of Escher's Picture Circle Limit III, Leonardo 12, No. 1, 19-25 (1979)

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[1960] Cyclic Limit V - Hyperbolic Geometry (fourfold turn and central threefold turn)

Already in 1942 Escher had provided a spherical version of this tiling, also known as Heaven and Hell:

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Shortly before the end: Snakes (1969)

Before Escher: trout (1899) with cocoa (1904)

Thanks to Katerina Kalfopoulou and Sarantis Iliopoulos

gbaloglouATgmailDOTcom, http://crystallomath.wordpress.com