While artists, scientists and mathematicians such as Leonardo Da Vinci and Roger Penrose have demonstrated the potential of anamorphosis, Jonty Hurwitz’s incredible sculptures blur the distinction between art and science. Hurwitz was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1969 and currently lives in London. In addition to co-founding Wonga.com, he is also an exceptional artist.
Hurwitz’s background as a mathematical sculptor helps make his artwork unique. He distorts a standard 3D sculpture by scanning his subject in a lab using algorithms involving 2πr (the circumference of a circle) and πr3 (the volume of a cylinder) to manipulate the object with a variety of software. Imagining a sphere at the centre of the mirrored cylinder is key to understanding how Hurwitz’s sculptures work. While praising Pi (the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter), Hurwitz also states that hands-on work and human vision are necessary to perfect the illusion.
Once calculated, the sculptures have to be fabricated. Hurwitz is able to take advantage of new technologies to manufacture his surreal creations from materials such as copper, steel and Perspex. Kiss of Chytrid (2009-2010) is made from a mixture of acrylic, resin, powder and steel.
Hurwitz chose to use a frog in this piece due to its increasing endangerment resulting from a type of chytrid fungus called Batrachochytrium. This fungus infects the amphibians’ skin and causes it to thicken, preventing frogs from absorbing water, salts and even oxygen.
Viewers of Kiss of Chytrid are asked to reflect on the impact of the ongoing threat to a creature that symbolises life and fertility. The fact that frogs have survived, evolved and adapted for hundreds of millions of years puts humankind’s existence into perspective and forces us to consider the fate of our own species.
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