The exhibition Mathematical, Even Fire Is Governed By Numbers had one purpose in mind: to let mathematics and mathematicians speak out by giving them the opportunity to brainstorm with major artists from the world of contemporary art. By taking it out of the environment in which it is usually articulated and taught, the exhibition seeks to combine the aesthetic, scientific and educational aspects of mathematics into one unique experience. Six mathematicians have engaged in mutual exchanges with the guest artists: Sir Michael Atiyah (Fields Medal, 1966, and Abel Prize, 2004), Alain Connes (Fields Medal, 1982), Nicole El Karoui, Mikhail Gromov (Abel Prize, 2009), Cédric Villani (Fields Medal, 2010) and Don Zagier (Cole Prize, 1987).
Accompanying these mathematicians are four artists: Raymond Depardon, Cai Guo-Qiang, David Lynch and Hiroshi Sugimoto. Together, they collaborate on a series of projects: movies, sound pieces and in situ installations. A combination of written texts, questionnaires and portraits, the catalogue also illustrates the diversity of mathematical thought – as expressed by the scientists as well as the artists – and emphasizes the importance of creativity in this field. A large part of the book is also devoted to the visual interpretations of mathematics as conveyed through the works of the artists participating in the exhibition.