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Deep-Play: Creativity in Math & Art through Visual Wordplay

Art-Science-Creativity Gallery

Deep-Play: Creativity in Math and Art Through Visual Wordplay
Through September 13, 2015

Look deeper!

Image of Deep Play Ambigrams A new exhibit at the MSU Museum invites visitors to look deeply and decipher playful and thought-provoking visual wordplay.
“Deep-Play: Creativity in Math and Art Through Visual Wordplay” introduces visitors to “ambigrams” to bring together the mathematics of symmetry, the elegance of typography, and the psychology of visual perception. Ambigrams are a way of writing words so they can be read or interpreted in more than one way.

This visual wordplay uses interaction and perspective: how the letters interact with one another, interplay in the space, and focal points. For example, some ambigrams might be read the same forwards and backwards or rotated at 90-degree angles, some can be read using mirrors to reflect them, and others require lighting, 3D effects or oversize designs to make sense.
“We want to create an exhibition space where visitors can ‘see’ ambigrams, and also experience the designs,” explains Punya Mishra, professor and director of the Educational Technology program in the MSU College of Education, whose work is the basis of “Deep-Play.”  “Ambigrams, in general, are thought-provoking, usually providing an ‘aha’ experience when the ‘pieces’ click and fall in to place.”
More than decoding word puzzles, the carefully and intricately crafted ambigrams illustrate mathematical ideas of symmetry, rotation, translation, reflection and spatial relationships. (Ambigrams were a key part of the intrigue of the popular recent book and movie “Angels and Demons.”)
“Deep-Play” presents a range of ambigrams, from the very basic to the very challenging, that will give visitors a sensory workout. Misha himself created many of the ambigrams in the exhibit along with Sandra Sawaya, a doctoral student in Educational Psychology and Educational Technology. Mishra is also working on a book on the subject of ambigrams.
The Art-Science-Creativity Gallery often presents work from faculty  and students in a number of disciplines across campus and gives visitors a chance to explore topics in different ways, make new connections, and deepen experiences in discovery and learning.“Deep-Play” is at the MSU Museum through June 30, 2015.
Can you guess the ambigrams? Top to bottom: "ambigram," "wordplay," and "good/evil." 
Learn more about Deep-Play.
Lisiten to Punya Mishra talk about ambigrams and "the math of space" on Michigan Radio:
MSU exhibit explores creativity through art and math
Read a profile by the MSU College of Education