In January 2017 I began an investigation of the basic tenets of addition and subtraction in relationship to concepts of minimalism and maximalism which looked at the performative actions of birth and death as a primal human vantage point for understanding math. The investigation began by building and stretching three 44" x 63" canvases and then using a four-inch wide brush to drag six colors sequentially across the surface of the canvas. With the birth of each additional color came the death of a portion or the previous application, resulting in a simultaneous birth/death paradigm. The second phase of the investigation visited the concept of seventeenth-century deathbed performances outlined in books intended to cultivate "Passing away in a dignified and Christian fashion," a pre-death technique presented in several mid fifteenth century books referencing The Ars moriendi, ("The Art of Dying") a practice intended to perfect the performance of dying, or the subtraction of life. The results of this investigation  reveal that In relationship to material pursuits every type and concept of death can be an art form and that human-shaped species consider types and concepts of death in relation to types and concepts of birth through a polarized thought form lens that superimposes elementary school addition and subtraction on top of birth and death. It's likely that foundational systems of math stem from a fabricated perception of life and death. If birth is a mode of addition and death is human subtraction, is third-grade math just death-speak cloaked as a commerce language for us human-shaped commodities?


N I N A  A. I S A B E L L E 

© Nina A. Isabelle 2018