The 2009 Diagram Prize: Hyperbolic Hyperbole

All right, am I the only person on earth who doesn’t think the winner of the 2009 Diagram Prize for the year’s oddest book title is that weird? Granted, Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes sounds a bit disjointed on the surface. But as anyone who’s ever spent time mooning over Ernst Haekel’s Art Forms in Nature knows, fractals are really cool and lend themselves nicely to all sorts of organic art. In fact, there’s an entire organization in Los Angeles, The Institute for Figuring, devoted to mathematically-based organic projects: “From the physics of snowflakes and the hyperbolic geometry of sea slugs, to the mathematics of paper folding and graphical models of the human mind, the Institute takes as its purview a complex ecology of figuring.” The prizewinning book’s author, Dr. Daina Taimina, has spoken there, and they have an ongoing association with one of my favorite periodicals, Cabinet Magazine. And their Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef exhibit, whether or not you like that kind of crafty thing, is pretty neat.

Now Collectible Spoons of the Third Reich, one of the Diagram runners-up—that’s weird. Or past years’ winners: Greek Rural Postmen and Their Cancellation Numbers, Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice, How to Avoid Huge Ships. But Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes? Makes perfect sense to me.

Then again, I think Knitting With Dog Hair (shortlisted in 1994) is about as practical as a book gets, at least in my world. So your mileage may vary.

(The image is Plate 85: Ascidiacea, from Ernst Haekel’s deeply wonderful 1904 Kunstformen der Natur, readily available as Art Forms in Nature and a book everyone should own.)


3 Comments to The 2009 Diagram Prize: Hyperbolic Hyperbole

  1. March 30, 2010 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    I totally agree. I’ve seen so many crocheted mathematical models in the last couple of years that the concept has no weirdness left in it. I thought Collectible Spoons of the Third Reich should have won.

  2. March 30, 2010 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    That’s great! Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes calls to mind two related websites —

    The Museum of Scientifically Accurate Fabric Brain Art and the less fabric-oriented, but still enthusiastically entitled fuck yeah nervous system.

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