Art Beyond the Human

Well, I’d read about bower birds since childhood, and later about paintbrush-wielding elephants, but the former seemed to be the sole example of deliberate manipulation of the surroundings to create beauty.  Until I saw BBC’s Life Story – here’s a clip from it, a video of a stunning piece of mathematical art created by a puffer fish.  One more nail in the coffin of human specialness!  Although I will put us on the top for destructive potential.

The puffer fish’s remarkable performance reminded me of an article I’d read recently, about mathematics as performance and play, with particular attention to sea slugs – but I suspect one can argue that all of nature is performing what we might call mathematics, or at least that mathematics is one of the things nature performs, embodies, articulates, along with art.

How very fortunate for us humans not to be alone as artists and mathematicians!

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