The History of ISAMA

by Nat Friedman, Founder

The first Art and Mathematics Conference AM92 was held June 8-11, 1992 at the University at Albany-SUNY. It was followed by the annual conferences AM93 through AM97 at UA-SUNY. Carlo Séquin had attended AM97 and had such a good time that I was able to convince him to host AM98 at the University of California, Berkeley. The AM conferences helped to motivate new interdisciplinary conferences relating the arts, mathematics and architecture. In particular, Reza Sarhangi attended AM95 and AM96. He organized Bridges 98 and Bridges 99 at Southwestern College, Winfield, Kansas with the assistance of Carlo and myself. Kim Williams attended AM95 and organized Nexus 96 and Nexus 98 in Italy, conferences relating architecture and mathematics. In all there were six conferences during the summer of 1998 relating the arts, mathematics, and architecture. This substantial increase in interest motivated me to organize ISAMA in 1998.

In particular, it was my pleasure to attend the very successful conference on Mathematics and Design, MD98, held at The University of The Basque Country in San Sebastian June 1-4, 1998, directed by Vera Spinadel and organized by Javier Barrallo. Since I found San Sebastian to be a beautiful location and Javier such an amazing organizer, I contacted Javier and The University of the Basque Country graciously agreed to host ISAMA 99. I would like to express my total appreciation once again to Javier for all the time and effort he put in to make ISAMA 99 such an enjoyable success and for producing the extensive book Proceedings ISAMA 99. The success of ISAMA 99 also depended largely on the extensive support of The University of The Basque Country, for which I will always be grateful.

It was very appropriate that the first ISAMA conference was held in the Basque Country. San Sebastian is the home of Eduardo Chillida, the world's greatest living sculptor, whose work is inspired by architecture. Bilbao is the home of the new Guggenheim Art Museum, designed by Frank Gehry, which is a crowning achievment of contemporary architecture. The timing of ISAMA 99 was also fortuitous since there was a significant retrospective of Chillida's work at the Guggenheim as well as an exhibit of architectural sculpture by Richard Serra inspired by ellipses. On Wednesday of the conference there was an excursion to visit the Guggenheim. On Thursday there was an excursion to Zabalaga, Chillida's private sculpture park and museum. On Friday we celebrated the completion of the granite sculpture Oushi-Zoukei carved at the conference by the Japanese sculptor Keizo Ushio. These were memorable experiences.

ISAMA 2000 will be held at The University at Albany-SUNY, June 24-28,2000. Hope you can join us.


Webmaster: John Sullivan, jms@isama.org