Significance of geometry in visual perception
Apr 27, 2018 · 5 min read
The Last Supper is a late 15th-century mural painting by Leonardo da Vinci

How many of you know this painting? Many of you would recognise this fine piece of art may be not because of its beauty. This painting is well known for its hidden secrets.

This is a painting by a renowned painter Leonardo Da Vinci. The name of the painting is “The Last Supper”. As a child I never understood why exactly is this painting so famous among the non-Christians as well. I do understand it being famous amongst the Christians for obvious reasons, but I never understood why is this painting called so perfect and beautiful. To be honest this seems to be a very normal painting to me, nothing extraordinary.

As a child, and as an adult too, I hated math or anything related to it. However, I love art, since there is not math involved. My latest discoveries on this painting and many other beautiful art, which I really adore, has made me very sad. Few of you might have guessed why. My discovery about this particular painting being so famous says that even art involves math!

Apparently, this particular painting involves a lot of lines and ratios and space and symmetry and hence it is called a ‘perfect’ art. Oh my heart and brain are crying out loud!

This painting is designed, rather painted keeping the golden ratio in mind. For those of you who do not know what golden ratio is, let me try and explain it to you. Ah hem!

Golden Ratio is a mathematical ratio. It can be better explained using basic geometric shapes rectangle and squares. Take a large rectangle consisting of a square, with sides equal in length to the shortest length of the rectangle, and a smaller rectangle. The, if you remove the square from the rectangle, you will be left with another smaller rectangle and this could continue to infinity. However, the approximate ratio that you will reach to is 1:1.618.

To understand this better refer to

To put this in very simple terms, the Golden Ratio is the magical number of 1.618 can be found in nature and when this is used in designing, it gives a very natural look and is aesthetically pleasing to the eye.

Here is why the Last Supper is so famous;

This is a graphical representation of how Da Vinci organized his art using the Golden Ratio. The picture appears so natural and proportioned that it attracts the viewers eye and makes it look so freakishly live.

That is what geometry does. It defines the perspective of the vision and helps create universal sense of aesthetics. If you really want to see the magic of what geometrical shapes can form in relation with space and perspective, just think of all the animated movies you now see, of any of the best 3D movies you have seen. It is all geometry.

Let me give you another shocking example of how geometry, and Golden Ratio or the Fibonacci Sequence can be applied to create perspective.

I am definite that you all find the logo of Apple very attractive. It is of course a simple thought of half eaten apple, but did you ever think why does your mind gets attracted to it so much? The answer is, it pleases your eyes so much that your mind can’t just stop noticing even if seen from the comer of your eye. And why does this happen? Because it is aesthetically pleasing as it is designed using the Golden Ratio.

Here’s a representation of how the Apple logo fits the Golden Ratio;

Do you see that? It’s all rectangles and squares and numbers and more circles, all geometry and number. Damn, math! I never thought I would regret not being able to understand math up until now.

What’s mind numbingly true is the Golden Ratio is omnipresent. Dear readers, writing this has scared the hell out of me, when I came to know that math is everywhere. Even in nature. Just as it is mentioned in the definition above, Golden Ratio is present in and around you, from the flowers of a petal to the branches of the tree, everything follows the Golden Ratio, or the Fibonacci Series. Don’t believe me? Well see to believe it. Here’s a picture of pinecone that shows the golden ratio;

Intrigued by looking at the pine cone? There are many other natural things that might surprise you.

This gives me a thought, if nature is created by the ubiquitous God, does this mean that God is a super- mathematician and he found this Golden Ratio and created everything basis that? Worth a thought!

Anyway, what I want to say here is, everything around us is related to numbers, shapes, space and symmetry. Even the abstract art is not really abstract, it is all math. Yet again, mathematics has boggled me. I am sure this has now blown your minds too!

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