July 15, 2010
Sisters and artistic collaborators Grace and Helen Walpole deal in an intriguing genre of performance; combining scientific theories with artistic explorations. Their latest creation is a dissertation on mathematics, infinity and how these scientific concepts relate to the body through the experience of pain.
It could be dry, but the Walpoles have cleverly constructed the piece to undulate through poetry and improvised dance, arriving at both abstract and literal representations of such advanced concepts as hyperbolic space and logarithmic perception.
The result of this complex amalgamation is a surprisingly accessible invitation to re-awaken our curiosity about the wondrous fabric of our universe and our place within it.
Grace is the on-stage presence, combining refined movement with a well researched and constructed science lecture. Her tone is something like that of a friendly geometry teacher, gently expounding the profundities of pi.
The elegantly simple design and evocative text are Helen’s domain. Her celestial dinner plate sculpture echoes extends the discussion of pi, while a poignant passage emanating from the ashes of Black Saturday alludes to the infinitesimal and over-awing power of nature.
Accompanying the piece is an apt but unobtrusive score by David Corbet, along with a series of drily amusing descriptions of pain inflicted by insect bites. Intelligent lighting design by Jenny Hector and Rose Connors Dance makes the most of the idiosyncratic venue.
With philosophical and physical treasures to please both specialist and generalist audiences, Mathematical Models of the Sublime is a fascinating performative essay.
This review was commissioned by The Age newspaper.