Is time movement in the fourth dimension

health : The fourth dimension

From 1919 onwards, Albert Einstein's thoughts also broke out in public. Thanks to the observations and calculations during a solar eclipse, the general theory of relativity was confirmed for the first time. A broad audience now grappled with the new definitions of space, time, energy or mass. And from then on, the physicist was gladly seen as a “mystical time traveler” and “dreamer”, like the art historian Linda Henderson from the University of Texas in Austin last weekend at a conference of the “Einstein Forum” in cooperation with the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences carried out.

"Artists at the time didn't react immediately to Einstein's theories," said Henderson. They were still occupied with discoveries made at the end of the 19th century: with radioactivity, X-rays or wireless telegraphy. The introduction of a fourth dimension also comes from the geometry of the 19th century. Such thoughts are permeated with the works of the French artist Marcel Duchamp. In one of his pictures, for example, the hovering bride is out of reach for the admirers who are held in place by gravity.

Einstein himself had a distant relationship to artistic modernism, explains Jürgen Neffe in his recently published biography "Einstein". The artistic language of Cubism, for example, had nothing in common with the theory of relativity, judged Einstein, who also had a conservative taste in music.

According to Henderson, the first direct artistic reaction to Einstein came from Berlin. In 1920, the Dadaist Hannah Höch put Einstein's portrait in her collage “Dada cut open with a kitchen knife from the last beer belly culture epoch in Germany”. Einstein as a symbol of pacifism in association with the Dadaists against militarism.

The moment of time, movement and simultaneity was the subject of kinetic art that was created in Berlin in the early 1920s. The pioneer was the Russian artist Naum Gabo, who, together with his brother Antoine, wrote the “Realistic Manifesto” in 1920, which Henderson described as a “milestone in the development of kinetic art”.

In 1922 Gabo came to Berlin to install the “First Russian Art Exhibition”. He also gave lectures at the Bauhaus, as did the Hungarian artist Lászlo Moholy-Nagy, whose studio became a meeting place for the Berlin avant-garde. Moholy-Nagy discussed with Einstein the editing of a popular science book on the theory of relativity, which was to be published by the Bauhaus-Verlag. The project was never realized, but inspired by Einstein's ideas, Moholy-Nagy created the “light-space modulator” in 1930. “He used it to research the refraction of light and the creation of dynamic shapes in space,” said Henderson. It was only after his death in 1946, when kinetic art came to the fore again in the 50s and 60s, that this work really became famous.

The surrealist Salvador Dalí succeeded in doing this more quickly with his painting “The Persistence of Memory” (1931). Dissolving dials illustrate the uncertainty about time, which in everyday life is assumed to be the same for everyone, but it is not in Einstein's view.

New York based artist Matthew Ritchie presented a modern interpretation of the concept of time at the Berlin conference with works by Hiroshi Sugimoto. The Japanese artist photographed the sea in different places around the world. The photos have different titles, but the images of the sea from Japan, the Caribbean or the North Sea don't really look different. "The notions of place and time are being challenged," said Ritchie.

He himself, said Ritchie, approached Einstein almost on a second educational path. He was a caretaker in New York and had no knowledge of science. That changed when he began reading the books on physics and philosophy that had been discarded by New York University students. "Back in the 1990s, there was great interest in cosmology again," he says. Einstein's discoveries in 1905 and later general relativity fascinated him. He already feels a little lonely with this passion. Many artists were inspired by science, but little by Einstein. They are more interested in Darwin, in brain and behavioral research, in chemistry or genetics.

Theories about time, space and the structure of matter, on the other hand, are the themes that Ritchie takes up in his installation “Proposition Player”. He describes the 30-meter-long sculpture as a “map of the space-time continuum”.

To home page