publication mathematical

Mathematical Form - John Pickering and the Architecture of the Inversion Principle

Such was the degree of interest in John’s work following the exhibition at the Architectural Association in 2002, Mohsen Mostafavi, then Chairman of the Architectural Association School of Architecture, suggested publishing a critical assessment of the work in a series of essays compiled into a book.

In an essay entitled JP’s Way, the architect George L. Legendre gives ‘an architect’s response to some questions raised by JP’s work’. George believes that the key question is ‘not so much whether the inversion principle produces architecture (it does, and at the same time it doesn’t) but the extent to which JP’s sculptural art can help us refine our understanding of architecture’s own disciplinary goals. As the very existence of this publication attests, the discipline of architecture has promptly embraced JP’s life-work, much more so than the art world, to which it nominally belongs. There are at least two good reasons for this: JP’s sculpture displays the same qualities as architecture (it is overtly rational, process-oriented, and given to tectonic expression), and it is also subject to the same limitations, weaknesses and pitfalls as architecture.

JP’s abstract sculptures can be all at once more architectural and less architectural than many ‘literal’ building proposals, though never predictably so.’

John makes his own contribution in a short essay exploring the link between the inversion principle and music. He points to the similarity between the inversion principle and the twelve-note method devised by Arnold Schoenberg. John writes ‘Using the sphere of inversion, when the infinite number of points surrounding the sphere are inverted to inside the sphere, the points become more compact the nearer they are to the centre of the sphere (the centre of inversion). If these points are interpreted as sound, then a stage is reached when one musical note cannot be distinguished from another and the sound becomes an intense and dense noise. This feeling of angst seems to flow through most of the music of the Second Viennese School, as reflected in the works of Schoenberg, Berg and Webern. The same effect can be achieved with MP.MQ= MR2 ’.

In his essay entitled ‘Perfect imperfect’, the engineer and writer, Chris Wise, takes a critical look at John’s choice of the inversion principle. He writes:

‘The Pickering paradox lies in the gulf between the mathematical purity of the inversion principle and the physical imperfection of the work. Why build anything at all? Why not just leave the work as a string of numbers? Here I can only guess, but I imagine that for him there is much more to it than the numbers. I suspect that the importance of these pieces is private. Only he has experienced what’s in there, and only he sees the sublime pathos as the mathematical language is gloriously revealed in its imprecise physical reality. Substance increasingly ceases to matter as long as the forms can simply exist as a framework onto which the pure numbers can be projected. So Pickering uses the shapes as the memory of his mathematical journey.’

The New Mathematics of Architecture

Publisher: Thames Hudson

Publication date: 1 April 2012

Author: Jane Burry, Mark Burry

This book places John Pickering’s work alongside case studies from the world’s leading architects, such as Foster and Partners, Minifie Nixon, Kohn Pederson Fox, Antoni Gaudi,

Gehry Partners, and Daniel Liberskind.

‘This one-of-a-kind survey of 46 international projects, compiled and written by leading experts on architectural mathematics, offers a thorough overview of how recent developments in maths and physics are being applied to architecture through accessible illustrations, lucid text and hands-on experience.’

9780500290255 uk

Formulas for Now

Publisher: Thames Hudson

Publication date: 24 November 2008

Author: Hans Ulrich Obrist

Hans Ulrich Obrist is an art curator, critic and historian. He is the Co-Director of Exhibitions and Programmes and Director of International Projects at the Serpentine Gallery, London.

In his book Formulas for Now, John Pickering and the Inversion Principle appear alongside eminent contributors from a wide variety of fields as they explore their own personal formulas for negotiating contemporary life.

‘Many of the most creative and original minds of our time - more than a hundred from the worlds of art, science, mathematics, architecture, design, performance, literature and sociology - give us their personal and enterprising, or visionary, or inventive, or novel, or just deliriously delectable, formulas for contemporary life.’

Modern British Sculpture

Publisher: Schiffer Publishing

Publication date: 4 December 2004

Author: Guy Portelli

John Pickering is included in this comprehensive study of the most important British sculptors from the 1950’s onwards.

‘This beautiful and important new book showcases 95 leading sculptors from the second half of the 20th century. Chronologically arranged to show the influences that touched each of the artists' lives, it concentrates on the most influential, award-winning, and highly valued works from the growing field of popular sculpture available today. The artists themselves selected most of the pieces to represent their own work and are liberally quoted with personal statements to interpret their work for the readers. 780 color and black and white photographs display the wide range of materials, themes, styles, and settings that convey each individual sculptor's own classical, figurative, abstract, or visionary work.’


EVA Exhibition of Visual Art 2010

Publisher: Gandon Editions

Publication date: 2010

Introduction: Elizabeth Hatz

To accompany EVA International, Ireland’s Biennial of Contemporary Art, a catalogue was designed and produced by Gandon editions. The catalogue includes an introduction by the curator Elizabeth Hatz, and artist profile pages for all participating artists. As a participating artist in the 2010 Biennial, John Pickering and his works are featured in the catalogue.