Michele Emmer

98-emmerAll of us feel we have an exclusive and privileged relationship with Venice. We all feel that a particular bridge, a certain street, a hidden corner of the city is only for us, that we have discovered it, that no one else knows about it. Each of us has a special memory of the city on the water. From 1976 to 1990 I made 18 films in a series on Art and Mathematics. Several of them were made in Venice, at least in part. Being films, they had a strong visual element and there I had to ask myself the basic question: are there objects, places or works of art in Venice that are of mathematical and of architectural interest? The answer of course is yes, at two different levels. As the city-theater par excellence, one has only to move around to discover that the architectural structures--palaces, streets and squares--have geometrical and mathematical shapes of some importance.

There are specific elements in Venice that are of special interest to the history of mathematics: polyhedra, symmetry, spirals and labyrinths. Add to this the fact that some of these works of scientific interest were carried out by great artists of the Renaissance and one realizes that it is not altogether far-fetched to think of Venice when dealing with the mathematics of art and architecture.

The correct citation for this paper is:
Michele Emmer, "La Venezia Perfetta: the Geometry of the City", pp. 39-50 in Nexus II: Architecture and Mathematics, ed. Kim Williams, Fucecchio (Florence): Edizioni dell'Erba, 1998.