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this book is the effort spent to link the work of quite different people, making each chapter a thought-provoking world of its own. For example, in the chapter on painting on spherical surfaces, a whole world is painted on a ball-shaped canvas; this is then contrasted with other works in which a whole universe is projected onto a finite flat painting. The reader is enriched by this juxtaposition. In another chapter dealing with scenes that change in scale according to a lower viewpoint, Sakane relates a scene from the popular movie “The Shining” to the technique of using a miniature camera withina small model in making advertisements . Mention is also made of a theory explaining why we seea childhood scene, revisited after many years, as if it has grown smaller: the distance between the child’s eyes has grown, while the remembered binocular visualangleof the scenehasnot changed.In another chapter, entitled “Infinite Arts”, Mandelbrot’s fractal geometry is presented, and the concept is linked to some of Escher’s works, in which tesselated angels and devilsgrow infinitely smaller towards the edge of the pattern. Sakane then asks us to consider some of Bach’s music where this concept of the infinite isalso evident. To round off the chapter, the author introduces the paradox of the liar who said “I always tell lies!” and then shows us some calligraphy where the word ‘infinity’ is repeated in a seemingly endless shrinking progression. What adds to the value of Sakane’s guided tour of the conceptually exotic and stimulating isthat many of the artists and scientists presented are his friends, whom he interviewed over the years during his worldwide trips to gather material for his newspaper. Because of that the essays have a light anecdotal touch and can be read as a first introduction to the works, which makes the book attractive to the general reader as well as to those interested in a particular topic. The chapter on Durer’s famous print Melancholia is a case in point. The author asked the scholar Tadashi Yokoyama to judge between a Dutch and a Japanese artist’s reconstruction of thepolyhedral solid shown in the print. The surprising answer was that mathematically the solid’sshape could be determined almost preciselyjust from the two-dimensional projection in the print. The author also introduced a totally different artist, Kit Williams, the creator of the Masquerade riddle book. The method of solving theMasquerade riddle was really based on the connection of the lines of sight of the living creatures in eachpage of thebook, and Sakaneused it as an introduction to the possible hidden meaning in Melancholia, in which the similar lines connecting many points amidst the paraphernalia of medieval science reveal wonderful configurations. Not the least of this book’s merits is that it presents the works of some Japanese designers, computer graphics artistsand mathematicians whosework is little known outside Japan. It is more the pity that this book isyet unavailable in an English edition, since their work is comparable to the best being done elsewhere. The book is well printed with many illustrations in full color and with a delightful dust jacket designed by Mitsumasa Anno, who can be described as a Japanese Escher. Japan’s phenomenal postwar economic growth has been matched by the fascination of the Japanese people with anything interesting and new to be found in the rest of the world. Sakane’s role has been to open the minds of a whole generation of Japanese to the varied and rich developmentsin theartsand sciences in the United States andEurope. Perhaps he can play a role in presenting the fascinating world of Japanese contemporary creativity to those outside Japan. The presentation of this book to the readers of Leonard0 is a small step in the right direction. Apart from these considerations, however, Sakane’s world is more than a mere collection of interesting works. He seeks to find a hidden thread of meaning, inviting us to take a guided tour during which we think through seeing and see through thinking. One hesitates to call this a philosophical quest forthe meaning of existence as seen through the works of inspired individuals, but in many...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1530-9282
Print ISSN
0024-094X
Pages
pp. 459-460
Launched on MUSE
2017-01-04
Open Access
No
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