Diagram of a tesseract

This week I have returned to my favourite topic of research – the interstice between art and science. This small space or interstice is a mysterious overlap, a Venn diagram where two parts overlap, collide, create a new entity.

Once again I have returned to the book which most influenced me as a nine year old  – Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. In it the children need to travel through time and space to find their missing scientist father who has been experimenting with ‘tessering’ a fifth dimensional method of time travel. The title of the book refers to the Einstein’s space-time continuem, the ripple or wrinkle in time which makes time travel accessible and instantaneous.

These ideas will inform the creation of my next artist book, folding the pages to create multiple narratives which demonstrate that the shortest distance between two or more concepts is a ripple, a wrinkle, a fold in space and time.

Here is an excerpt from the book:

Meg sighed. ‘Just explain it to me.’

‘Okay,’ Charles said. ‘What is the first dimension?’

‘Well – a line: –‘

‘Okay. And the second dimension?’

‘Well, you’d square the line. A flat square would be in the second dimension.’

‘And the third?’

‘Well, you’d square the second dimension. Then the square wouldn’t be flat any more. It would have a bottom and sides, and a top.’

“And the fourth?’

‘Well, I guess if you want to put it into mathematical terms you’d square the square. But you can’t take a pencil and draw it the way you can the first three. I know it’s got something to do with Einstein and time. I guess maybe you could call the fourth dimension Time.’

‘That’s right,’ Charles said. ‘Good girl. Okay, then, for the fifth dimension you’d square the fourth, wouldn’t you?’

‘I guess so.’

‘Well the fifth dimension’s a tesseract. You add that to the other four dimensions and you can travel through space without ever having to go the long way round. In other words, to put it into Euclid, or old fashioned plane geometry, a straight line is not the shortest distance between two points.’

For a brief, illuminating second meg’s face had the listening, probing expression that was so often seen on Charles’s. ‘I see!’ she cried. ‘I got it! For just a moment I got it! I can’t possibly explain it now, but there for a second I saw it!’

Text sourced from Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time. Puffin, 1995 p 76-77.



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