Do you think math and geometry can be beautiful? The connection between geometry and art goes back as far as art and geometry themselves do. It’s omnipresent in the world of Leonardo da Vinci and its presence in art hasn’t gone away in the nearly 500 years since da Vinci’s death. You will find geometry at the heart of many contemporary works of art that are pushing boundaries, including the relatively new and rapidly evolving field of projection mapping.

What is projection mapping? It’s when a projected image is projected onto a three-dimensional object, which is often irregularly shaped, instead of the clean flat surface like you get in a movie theater.

While some of the coolest examples of projection mapping exist inside the world of art, projection mapping isn’t limited to art. You see it in advertising or at sporting events, like this video projected onto the ice rink at a Calgary Flames game this season.

The artist Sougwen Chung both draws from science as an inspiration and has found herself using math, geometry, and coding in her work. Math has been vital in creating projections, drawing some work that are later projected, and in creating the intricate surfaces that the projections are displayed on.

Here’s a look at her piece Prélude (Étude Op. 3, No.2), 2012, about which she has said, “The title is inspired by the concept of Optogenetics, the emerging field of neuroscience concerning itself with the triggering of memory with light, and genesis, the coming into being from a point of origin.”

Sougwen Chung, Prélude (Étude Op. 3, No.2), 2012 from sougwen on Vimeo.

Here’s a slightly more intricate example in a piece called CHIAROSCURO.

While science and math isn’t required in order to do projection mapping (see video at the end of this post for an instructional on the basics of projection mapping), it can open up new possibilities. A great example of the possibilities of the collision of math and coding in projection mapping exists here, where the artist Simon Geilfus used code to create the projections and engineered it to react to the sounds in the room, provided by the musician Murcof.

Just as it did in the days of da Vinci, engineering, science, and math feed art, make it grow, and make it innovative. These beautiful works are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the collision of arts and science/math in contemporary art.

Below is a video that will give you a brief instructional on how projection mapping works.

The impact of STEM on film isn’t limited to art like projection mapping, there are many opportunities, like learning animation or anything from this list of tech jobs in the film industry. STEM education can be the jumping off for a life in art or film.