Houston Gallery Exhibits Michael Petry’s Tribute to Codebreaker Alan Turing

Michael Petry AT the core of the Algorithm (2015) Photo: Hiram Butler Gallery via The Creator's Project

Michael Petry, AT the Core of the Algorithm (2015)
Photo: Hiram Butler Gallery via The Creators Project

An artwork by the American multimedia artist Michael Petry, which pays tribute to the British mathematician Alan Turing, has been installed in Houston’s Hiram Butler Gallery, the Creators Project reports.

Consisting of 47 multicolored glass spheres hanging from the ceiling, each sphere represents the cyanide-injected apple that Turing used to commit suicide.

Despite cracking the code which helped the allies intercept Nazi communications during World War II, Turing committed suicide in 1954 after being subjected to hormone treatment to “cure” homosexuality, which was imposed on him as an alternative to prison.

In a statement Petry wrote for the artwork’s exhibition last year at the Glazenhuis in Lommel, Belgium (known also as the Flemish Centre for Contemporary Glass Art), he said: “The glass spheres that make up my installation were made according to an algorithm that I developed with the glass blowers. Only sets of prime numbers were allowed; each sphere that collided with another had to be bigger than the first; each had to have a piece bitten out of it; and so on. This is a certainty, as this did happen, to my request, and under these simple rules, a complex system emerged.”

The artist told the Houston Chronicle, “Each bubble represents a multiverse.” He elaborated, “Current science imagines that our universe is like a soap bubble that attaches to another one, and the points where they intersect is where things can go from one universe to the other.”

At a fine books and manuscripts sale at Bonhams on Monday, April 13, a notebook containing records of Turing’s groundbreaking research sold for $1,025,000. (Read more about that event in our stories Buy Codebreaker Alan Turing’s Secret Manuscript for $1 Million and Rare Manuscript of Enigma Code-Breaker Alan Turing Nets Over $1 Million.)

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