Meta-Vermeer: A Topological Reinterpretation of a Masterpiece

Silvia De Toffoli and Yasuhiro Sakamoto
Proceedings of Bridges 2012: Mathematics, Music, Art, Architecture, Culture (2012)
Pages 499–502


The global shape of space is investigated in topology, a mathematical theory that focuses on the 'primordial' properties of spatial objects, the ones that do not depend on their geometric shape. Topology gives the possibility of presenting different models for our universe, different configurations which are compatible with our usual 3-dimensional Euclidean geometry. We present a way to directly experience these different topological configurations through a masterpiece of the past: The Girl with a Glass of Wine by Johannes Vermeer. Meta-Vermeer consists of a 3-dimensional model of the room depicted in Vermeer's painting and a light simulation. The room is then visualized (though a 3d portal) as different topological spaces.