October 4, 2015

Four Canoes

Four Canoes by Helaman Ferguson, University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minnesota.

Ferguson's Four Canoes sculpture consists of two interlocking rings of granite, one red and the other black, sitting on a pair of granite pedestals. Each ring represents a mathematical form called a Klein bottle and can be imagined as a pair of canoes, one inverted and placed atop the other, then sewn together at the gunnels and bent around until their front and back ends touch.

Four Canoes rests on two granite pedestals, which are surrounded by an array of 28 hexagonal tiles, each of them three feet in diameter.

The tiles represent a particular way of viewing a Klein bottle as the result of abstractly sewing together opposite sides of a tile so that serrated edges match.

A Klein bottle can be represented in terms of a torus, or bagel shape, with a pair of cross-caps. As shown in this model, by putting in a small gap in a stone ring where the cross-caps meet, Ferguson can link two such Klein bagels to produce an intriguing sculptural combination.

For other examples of Helaman Ferguson creations, see "Hyperbolic Quilt" and "Umbilic Torus, Writ Large."

Photos by I. Peterson

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