The Exploratorium's Geometry Playground


Tom Rockwell sees an intimate connection – a oneness, even – between two things that “left brain, right brain” folk-science taught us were hopelessly separated: aesthetics and math. If you have ever declared yourself “not a math person,” a trip to Rockwell’s Geometry Playground at the Exploratorium may deliver a mind blowing much overdue. The exhibition aims to show the geometry in everything from hopscotch to high art. It goes up today and stays in SF until September 6. Come with your whole brain and, more importantly, your whole body.

The show includes twenty exhibits and specially commissioned artworks. “The hope is that math-driven people will experience the aesthetic appeal of math, and aesthetic-driven people will find the rules that allow beauty to come through,” Rockwell told me in an interview.

That may sound cerebral, but in this playground the body is king. The goal here, Rockwell stressed, was to make many of the exhibits big enough and interactive enough to beckon hands-on engagement from kids and adults alike, dislodging all sense of art-gallery manners and announcing “permission to climb.” “I’m very interested in dance," Rockwell told me, “I see the navigation of many exhibits as a way of dancing.” His personal favorite piece is the Gyroid, a ten by ten by ten foot labyrinthine climbing structure. “This structure,” Rockwell enthusiastically added, “has a naturally occurring analog in the wings of butterflies.”

Whichever side of the cognitive track you think you come from, explore your identity as a mover and a dancer – put your spatial reasoning up to the light. Grown ups—head over to the Exploratorium on Thursday, July 1 for After Dark, an adults-only evening event featuring cocktails and aerial acrobatic performances by Trapezeworld. After Dark is included in the price of admission to the Exploratorium and begins at 6 p.m.

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