Mind the 19th step | University of Oxford
OSB archive
OSB archive

Mind the 19th step

Pete Wilton

What do you get if you mix mathematics, music, dance and sculpture? Probably something a lot like The 19th Step, an experimental project involving Oxford mathematician Marcus du Sautoy.

Marcus mentioned this to me a while back: how he had come across artists from many different disciplines who were fascinated by the work of Argentinian fabulist Jorge Luis Borges and wanted to join forces for a collaborative performance. The first performance is tonight at Roehampton University.

The flyer explains it like this: 'On the 19th Step of a basement staircase in a building about to be demolished in downtown Buenos Aires, writer Jorge Luis Borges imagines an aleph, a point in space that contains all other points (past, present and future)...'. Marcus will be performing alongside dancers and musicians to 'create a complex patterning of spaces, layering understanding of time, numbers and relationships.'

I remember being captivated by Borges's Labyrinths, a book of short stories that still casts a spell over my imagination today and acts as a touchstone of fiction with my circle of friends. It's a great Rubik's cube of a book, full of strange angles, patterns and configurations of the past, present and future. Every mathematician should read it... So should everyone else.