Rule of Three


A Cello

by Sienna Morris

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In Sienna Morris’s sketch, a bow is drawn across the strings of a cello, the action rendered in grainy browns and greys. All that we see of the performer is a pair of disembodied arms. The skin disintegrates into ethereal wisps, which curl outwards in ornamentation. Stretching from the limbs, these ghostly tendrils reveal themselves to be constructed from a dozen distinct numbers, carefully written out and reiterated in a seemingly random fashion. Sorting them into ascending order, we can count from one to twelve, evoking the passing of time or the face of a clock. The work’s other elements are built from equations and algorithms, from the Pythagorean comma to the speed of sound.

Words by John Wadsworth


directed by Darren Aronofsky
Feature film

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Max Cohen is a tortured genius harbouring an unhealthy conviction: that logic and order can be found buried within the infinite figures of pi. He believes that ‘there are patterns everywhere in nature’, patterns that mathematics can unravel and understand. Even the stock market is a predictable organism; all he needs to do is crack the code. Max works long hours in a cramped room, stooped in the shadow of his supercomputer, in constant belief that a breakthrough lies around the corner. The film’s choppy editing, grating sound design, and skittering score complement his obsession and increasing paranoia. We may not relate to Max’s passion for data, but, subjected to such claustrophobia-inducing techniques, we certainly come to share his distress.

Words by John Wadsworth

Hand Movie

by Yvonne Rainer

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A hand flexes before us, rehearsing a series of movements. Motions range from balled-up fist to stretched-out palm. Early on, the middle finger attempts to bend in isolation, causing the adjacent extremities to twitch involuntarily. It decides to cross the ring finger, and does so with ease. Pinkie and pointer try to imitate the action, but with far less success. The thumb bends inwards, then back. At first glance, Yvonne Rainer’s Hand Movie is an anatomical exercise in futility, no more impressive than the cracking of knuckles. But the performance, conceived following the artist’s hospitalisation due to major surgery, questions why dance must involve the entire body. Choreography, it proves, can exist independently of theatre stage or set design.

Words by John Wadsworth

Today's connection

A Cello is made up of numbers, a synonym of digits. The protagonist of Pi looks for a pattern in the digits of pi. Hand Movie is concerned with the movements of fingers, another synonym of digits.

More to discover

A Cello: Visit Sienna Morris’s website here.

Pi: View the trailer here, and listen to the soundtrack here. Joshua Klein has interviewed Darren Aronofsky (the film’s director) for The AV Club, as has Anthony Kaufman for IndieWire.

Hand Movie: View the film here. Sanjoy Roy has written an introduction to Yvonne Rainer for The Guardian.

Question of the day

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