Mathematicians, artists, and educators attend Bridges 2017

Researchers and artists from around the world gather at the University of Waterloo for interdisciplinary conference

By Victoria Garner

University Relations

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Story banner features sculpture installation "Sentient Veil" by Philip Beesley, featured in 2017 at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

A paddleboarder at night with a paddle covered in LEDs, photographed by Stephen Orlando

Photograph by Stephen Orlando, featuring a paddleboarder in Waterloo, Ontario.

Connections among artists, musicians and mathematicians will take center stage at the annual Bridges conference that draws innovators from around the world for interdisciplinary creativity.

“Bridges to me is all about inspiration. I come back every year looking for a fresh dose to come away energized and excited to try all kinds of new things,” says Bridges Chair Craig Kaplan, a professor in Waterloo’s David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science. The annual conference, hosted this year at the University of Waterloo from July 27 to 31, has been running since 1998 in countries ranging from the Netherlands, to South Korea and Portugal.

Kaplan’s passion for the conference stemmed from a love for the intellectual networking and “hallway track” of the conference. He praises the infectious enthusiasm of late founder Reza Sarhangi for bringing the community together. “The whole organization has been driven for many years by his enthusiasm and passion,” says Kaplan. This year, many pieces from the gallery will be available in a silent auction in support several initiatives in Sarhangi’s honour.

Sarhangi founded the conference to create a space for mathematicians and artists to enrich one another. “That’s the reason I kept coming back,” says Kaplan, “I could engage with different people on lots of topics in math and art, and I always learned something new that allowed me to grow in a new direction.”

A small, islamic charm 3D printed in metal by Craig Kaplan

A small, islamic charm 3D printed in metal by Craig Kaplan, Bridges 2017 Chair.

 

Swirling, yellow paper folded in a representation of a sunflower encased in glass, by Erik Demaine and Martin Demaine

"Glass Sunflower" by Erik and Martin Demaine.

The conference will feature notable faculty and alumni such as alumnus Erik Demaine, who completed his PhD at Waterloo in computational origami at the age of 20. Other speakers include Waterloo professor and architect Philip Beesley,  local photographer and engineering alumnus Stephen Orlando, and many other mathematicians, scientists, artists, educators and musicians.

The community is encouraged to attend several public events: an exhibition at the University of Waterloo Art Gallery, a formal music night, and an entire afternoon of activities, games, presentations, and more during the conference Family Day.

 

“Ultimately the goal of the conference is finding those connections. Bridging those gaps and building that understanding is what makes it truly inspiring,” says Kaplan.

Delle Caustiche (Sagittarius Star Cloud)," lace and wire piece by Veronika Irvine.

Delle Caustiche (Sagittarius Star Cloud)," lace and wire piece by Veronika Irvine.