math & emotion
further information (a prologue, the genesis story and the front-cover) of math & emotion:
a prologue written by alasdair macaulay
to unite the apollonian and the dionysian, the rational and the exstatic has never been easy, which is why the greeks had a god for each case. it is to be noted that music falls within the area of responsibility of the rational apollo with his muses, but dionysos was always ready to get the party started and turn the volume up. to paraphrase salman rushdie from “the ground beneath her feet”, that the struggle of the great musician is to try to set the pure, clean tones of apollo’s song in movement to the impure rythmn of dionysos. each epoch has tried to bridge the dichotomy in it’s own language, in the baroque with ratio and god, the romantic with power and nature, the modern with disonance and alienation and our post-modern with rythmn and the medial self. each an existential answer and question to our human condition. humans beings are see-monsters. our visual capacity is spectacular, and this binocular, colour vision inherited from our arboreal ancestors coupled with the freed from climbing front paws and a brain evolved to coordinate these abilities has allowed us our astonishing cultural development. all still based on the instinctual life of a lizard and the emotional life of social mammals like dogs, pigs or baboons. these are the cards mother nature has dealt us. math and emotion..................and the ability to breath without thinking about it. much is said about the speed of modern society and this is understood to be either good or bad, depending on whether one wishes for a faster internet connection or whether one smells ones soul singeing at the onset of burn-out syndrome. the implication is that we move ever faster in what used to be called the rat race, but it is the mindlessness of the challenge and the emotional and creative sterility of the medial bombardment that suggests velocity. humans must always move at the same pace. multiple immersion in advertisments doesn’t make us quicker, it makes us overwrought, unhappy and possibly ill. we fear a little part of our short lives will be lost if we defer gratification in any way, a never to be repeated experience, a sensual moment, a consumation will withdraw beyond our range and be lost, as we will be lost when the big light goes out. the flickering, medial facsimile of life broadens to our horizons yet is as shallow as dust on a mirror. further complicating the matter is our inability to forget. hands up all those who can remember an advertising jingle from their childhood tv viewing for a product that no longer exists! ask any girl suffering from bulimia what she sees in her mirror and she will tell you what she feels in her mirror. is that which we see, “true”, or that which we feel we see? what exactly is the difference? we see a person dying by parts and she sees herself as fat and ugly. who, or what part of her is telling her that? remember we can “see” in colour and in depth and if we bring our bulimia patient to the optician and test her eyesight, even if we give her the spectacles that her short sightedness calls for, she will still see herself as being too fat! we recognise this as pathological but it is nonetheless an everyday phenomenon, and merely a matter of degree. our sensual awareness is steered by our emotions. questions of awareness are existential questions both philosophically and literally. emotional morbidity can lead to untimely death. perhaps the more a person encapsulates and isolates their emotional condition, the more pathological becomes their state. nothing perhaps represents for us the spirit of deferred gratification and balanced power more than the game of chess. nothing seems so mysteriously ordered, 8x8 the 64 squares and the hierarchical pyramid of feudal order. it may say something of the origin of chess that hindu teaching guides us to the 64 abilities a man must master, or the 64 combinations of the 8 categories of erotic acts in the kama sutra, amongst other similar combinations. likewise, the i ching demonstrates in 64 hexagrams the manifold universe as the sum of 6x odd and even. the master, as opposed to the computer, has stored the combinations through experience and chooses the next move as the intuitive sum of all this experience just as the random fall of coins opens the door to an oracle. our emotions are always true and always mixed. even if my love is unrequited, i definitely feel my love to be true. just so my anger, just so my sorrow. and if i have ever loved, then when i read shakespeare, donne or burns, i know that emotions are humanly universal and eternal. all art has to be understood as speaking first to the heart. when a clever artist today says that he or she wants to make us think with their attempt to shock, then they have failed to understand either art or us. art speaks to our emotions first and not to our rational faculty. we feel first and ask questions later. if the feeling is ”true” then we have art. if the feeling is false then we have the non-art we instinctively turn away from. the poet speaks for the heart and for the awareness of self which posits the other, the viewer, the object. 1+1=2. the first steps to mathematics starts in our emotional awareness. starting with the simplest arithmetic, mathematics describes harmony in ever more detail. more detail than most of us feel we need or understand. things are proved that are beyond normal experience, with methods outwit our normal, empirical awareness. it is probable that pythagoras, fibonacci or napier believed they had proved the existence of god in that nothing can be left to chance in an orderly, harmonic universe. we see this now as an attempt to resolve a paradox with a supernatural intervention rather than finding the resolution in a meta-level in which the paradox becomes a unit. if we leave the supernatural aside, then we can avoid placing mathematics in a realm beyond and outside of our experience, and in not forcing it to play a polar role as opposed to emotion it moves back into our sphere as the partitur of our understanding, not of an a priori knowledge of harmony, but an inherent feeling for harmony. our feelings come and go, are true for a time and then change. in the moment that i feel, my feeling is unequivocally true, whereas anything i say rationally, including this essay can be argued about and disputed. that 1+1=2 is something that nobody will dispute either, but 3-1=2 is also true. once again klangstabil approaches the squaring of the circle.
math & emotion, genesis
the idea to produce a concept album about chess arose in the summer of 2005 when boris started to cultivate an interest in the game to find a way to overcome his growing mental laziness. maurizio also liked the idea of turning chess into a musical concept. chessboards and relevant literature were aquired so as to get into to the spirit of the game. the term chess embraces a whole universe. the game is played everywhere. there are innumerable online portals and other exchange platforms. there are special news pages, schools and events. chess clubs can be found in every city. there are international tournaments endowed with high prices and people from all social backgrounds are taking part. science has always been interested in the game just as it has been inspirational in the fine arts, for writers, philosophers, film-makers and musicians. there are many chess terms used in everyday language without awareness of their origin. eversince chess was invented, it has appeared throughout the history of mankind. games of life and death were played, games which decided over marriages and fortunes, games which united or separated worlds. in other words, chess is more than just a game. originally, the title of the album was planned to be “mindchess”. later on, it was transformed into “math & emotion” because this title reflects the way klangstabil learned to play the game. maurizio: we noticed how closely the emotions during the game resemble the emotions in everyday situations. it‘s a very personal game entirely taking up the player. one bad move that leads to defeat will haunt us for ages. the joy of winning a game will last for weeks. boris: dr. helmut pfleger’s dvds about chess brought us closer to the most beautiful chess games of all times and we discovered the measure of creativity and genius involved in these games. it was by no means dry and boring to watch and analyze them. oftentimes, boris played against torben wendt. during their sessions the idea was born to organise a chess tournement in tübingen, germany, during the tübingen jazz days 2006. to observe the behavior of the participators was boris’ first priority. maurizio: it is hard to imagine one could remain completely untouched whilst playing a game of chess, like a chess computer, doing nothing else than rationally calculating the perfect move. to hold back ones emotions, to stay cool, to keep a pokerface is very difficult. with a person you know very well it is sometimes possible to engage in their thoughts and to actually feel their next move, because you are familiar with their character traits. the more emotional you play, the more you give away your game. boris: the concept „math & emotion” became wider and overstepped the limits of mere gameboard chess. it was projected on interhuman behavioral patterns in the everyday game of life. a variety of themes came up: how to reach something by using advantages in communication? how much tactics and how much emotion is applied in an argument between close friends? what is the basis for trust? are emotions imagination or truth? what happens when emotions are suppressed and what happens when emotions cannot be controlled anymore? how do we behave in a hopeless situation? how much calculation lies in the game of love? at which moment does dance change into fight? is beauty and harmony always based on a mathematical pattern? what is the pattern? maurizio: at the beginning of 2007, further aspects came up like dealing with the concept of the self”: what is the range of your own tolerance? what is left when everything has been given? denial and adaption. mental laziness and stupidity. atrophy of expression. the solitude of fighting for self-preservation. joy. courage for renewal. concentration of all senses and abilities. loss and win. cognition and conclusion. surviving.
math & emotion, the cover
at the end of 2005, boris was captivated by the idea to make a cover for “math & emotion” in the dime novel - ghost story style of the german ”gespenster“ comics. these ghost novels were pulp fiction published by bastei lübbe. they had impressed him deeply in his childhood when his older sister used to buy these booklets every week. boris: initially, it was the cover pictures that impressed me. the stories themselves were drawn in an ordinary, very repetitive and rather more boring than creepy comic style. when boris was caught up by the idea for the cover, he didn‘t know who the artist of the ”gespenster“ cover pictures was, but they were always signed with the name ”ugurcan“. so it remained to be discovered who ugurcan was. after some research he found out that a person named ugurcan yüce was living about 40 km away from boris and maurizio in stuttgart. without knowing what to expect, boris called ugurcan yüce and was surprised to find such a friendly and open person on the other end of the phone. boris: after the first few minutes, can and me were on first name terms and we were talking about developing an album cover. only a short time after their first contact they met at can’s home. boris: can and his wife vedia received me very warmly. can showed me his work and told me about his life as a painter and how he became a phantasy illustrator. can has been seriously occupied with painting since his childhood. he drew everything he saw, from imagination and from his surroundings. at the age of 18 he won his first commission for a large fresco on a mythological subject for a factorywall. finally he became a student at the “istanbul academy of fine arts”. during his studies he won further commissions. he finished his studies with honours. after his military service he returned to istanbul and illustrated book covers and painted cinema posters. in 1980, can travelled with a friend to germany to gain experience abroad and shortly afterwards he started to work with bastei lübbe. in 1982, can moved with his wife to germany where he worked for 25 years as a freelance illustrator for bastei lübbe. during this time he created more than a thousand title paintings for the “gespenster“ series and countless illustrations for other pulp fiction novels. he also illustrated board game titles for ravensburger and schmidt spiele. the title-illustrations of “das schwarze auge“ are from his pen and brush. during the years, can became a well known phantasy illustrator. boris: when can showed me in his living-room the original paintings of “das schwarze auge”, i was overwhelmed by the incredible blaze of colour, which can never be reproduced by industrial printing. can has a very personal technique in the way he deals with colours. a face, for example, can be composed of hundreds of different colours, which have nothing in common with the “real“ face colour. apparently monochrome surfaces contain innumerable colours which actually don‘t seem to be matching at all. the abundance of details in his paintings combined with the sound knowledge about each of these details make up his art. just the same he masters the portrayal of the human form following the art of the ancient world, as if he was a renaissance painter. can is very famous in the phantasy-scene. he has fans and ”pupils” all over the world. boris: since he is not only a painter but also a musician, we got on to the same wavelength very quickly when the concept of “math & emotion” was explained. i told can how the chess theme should run through the whole album. the subject being, how strongly this basically rational game triggers emotions which cannot be suppressed and finally are breaking out. this contradiction is visually realised by two primeval spirits emanating from boris’ and maurizio’s bodies to fight the deadly match to the end. during his lifetime can had painted tens of thousands of ghosts and spirits, so he immediately came up with his own ideas. after three hours the basic frame for the cover was agreed on and had then to be filled up with content. where and in which era does the scene take place, how do the spirits look like? two months later, a meeting was held at can and vedia’s, with maurizio joining in. maurizio: we immediately became very friendly with each other. vedia insisted on cooking a memorable turkish dinner for us. in the meantime we had collected all the elements that should appear in the picture and a first layout for the composition was made. the duel between maurizio and boris should be happening boldly in the center part of the painting, surrounded by 19th century society. the main inspiration for the image was found in luchino visconti’s film “the leopard” with claudia cardinale, burt lancaster and alain delon in the leading parts. the movie describes the decline of the aristocracy and the rise of the bourgeoisie during the time of the risorgimento in italy. the ball scenes of the film offer a great wealth of authentic costumes and requisites. maurizio: naturally, there a no such things as samurai and viking spirits in the film. boris: each primeval spirit should originate in different times and cultures, in order to represent that everywhere and at all times the struggle for survival must be fought. the intensive fight which in the beginning takes place in the minds of the combatants erupts with the primeval spirits to occupy the complete space. boris chose as his spirit a samurai from the edo period. some of these samurai wore masks (mempo) that were fixed to their helmets to protect the face and to frighten the enemy. with boris’ spirit the mask has become his own grimace. can shows us the terrifying mercilessness of the samurai. maurizio’s emotional fight is symbolised by the spirit of a viking warrior from the 8th century. can is famous for his viking representations and he has painted the viking motive time and again for “das schwarze auge”. as soon as the viking spirit emanates from maurizio, he takes a big swing with his battle axe towards the samurai. the players are unaware of what is happening around them and what they set in motion with their mental fight. a further element is the chess board on the right side of the picture. it shows the game plan of a distance chess game started in autumn 2005 between boris and urs which lasted for several weeks. urs could not play the game to the end as he succumbed to leucaemia and died in spring 2006. the next white move would have been his. boris was sure he had won the game, because he had more pieces left, but when he consulted a chess computer with various degrees of difficulty and played the game to the end, he discovered that he never had a chance of winning. urs was the victor. boris: we asked can to place himself in the picture and the original idea was to place him in the middle, but he preferred to be on the right side near the game plan on the wall. he is the only person looking out of the picture. maurizio: to fittingly frame the scenery, we asked can to paint a ceiling fresco into the picture which he did by heart and in practically no time at all. boris: the finished work was presented to us in the beginning of 2008. it is signed in the right lower corner with his well known signature “ugurcan”. we are very proud of this work and the friendship with can and vedia that developed during the two years of production. we sincerely thank them for everything!