Exquisite Failure: The Telescope as Lived Object

Elizabeth McTernan and Luke Wolcott
Proceedings of Bridges 2013: Mathematics, Music, Art, Architecture, Culture (2013)
Pages 423–424


We describe an exquisite mathematical failure, arrived at after hundreds of hours of solitary mathematical research, and offering no hope for mathematical redemption. The mathematical object at the center of the failure, the telescope denoted Tel, becomes a focal point for an idea-based art piece exploring the human relationship with darkness, history, and utopia. In this larger math-art theoretical space, Tel is reclaimed as a tool for critiquing mathematical ontology and reevaluating the terms of engagement of creative production.