On Function


The data visualizations in this exhibition present works devoted to the concept of function within the context of art.

The data visualizations in the exhibition demonstrate the relations between different visualizations regarding the same topic.

Each data visualization exemplifies a function.

According to the definition made by J.P.G.L. Dirichlet in 1817: If there is a unique value of y corresponding to each value taken by the variable x within a certain interval, then the variable y is a function of the variable x. For this, there is no need of a certain law or formula; it is sufficient that a series of well-defined mathematical operations applied to x determine y.1

This series of mathematical operations can be demonstrated by means of an algebraic expression. In this algebraic expression, x symbolizes the independent variable and y symbolizes the dependent variable related to x.

The visual novelty that Descartes has brought to this dual dependency is that an algebraic expression has a geometrically necessary and unique equivalent. In a certain coordinate system, each equation corresponds to a curve on the plane and each curve to an equation.

Two signifying expressions which clearly look different from each other have the same mapping. In G. Frege’s analysis, the concept corresponds to the understanding of mathematical function and the object to the argument of the function, namely to the understanding of assigning a value to the variable.2

The second topic that the works in this exhibition deal with is the presentation of lingual expressions, which are in an effort to demonstrate what a function is, as art. In these demonstrations, symbols, expressions, methods belonging to the field of mathematics are used both as a topic and an analogy.

This work takes as a reference the works that Bernar Venet has realized by using mathematical symbols and expressions. In the template demonstrating the levels of abstraction and meaning of images, created by Jacques Bertin and mentioned in Bernar Venet’s statements, mathematical expressions and graphics are classified as “monosemic”. Monosemic can be defined as literal / having a single meaning and being about nothing but itself. In this sense, a mathematical graphic differentiates from a drawing or an abstract work.

Whether an image is a drawing or a graphic demonstrating the relation between numbers which proceed along the coordinate points defined by means of certain relationships lies in the answer to the question of how and with which consciousness it has been made. Presenting as art is independent of the nature of the presented thing. A message that is originally completely mathematical takes on a very heavy secondary meaning when presented as art since it demonstrates art.

Presenting a lingual expression as art is one thing and the content of the lingual expression presented as art is another thing.

The works in this exhibition use the lingual expressions which describe the functions (concepts) together with other lingual expressions which again describe the same function.

Even if the objects are relocated, the concept stays the same without any changes.

The concept is ‘rendered visible’ under a changeable form of presentation. However, it is based on a lingual content and not a formal appearance.3

Even if it is possible to aesthetically consume the results of the works in this exhibition, what is tried to be demonstrated is a reasoning.

                                                                        Sergen Şehitoğlu

Adatepe 2019

  1. Ian Stewart – The Story of Mathematics
  2. Gottlob Frege – The Foundations of Arithmetic
  3. Alfred Pacquement – Conceptual Art