Attempt at Calculating Negligence

Henri Airo

2018 - 2019

Mathematics is often used as the base for building shared narratives in societies. It’s privileged position within scientific discourse and different regimes of truth gives it the power to shape and build reality. The death of my family member lead me to face this from a personal perspective, experiencing the limits of such a world view.

My little sister died, killed by a drunk driver, some years ago. My subjective experience of loss has never had anything to do with the physical aspects of the event. The court documents have always felt unimportant to me. I feel the way they attempt to reconstruct such brutish and irrelevant details as flight distances and impact models does not serve to understand the event.

There are no eyewitnesses, the driver was too drunk to remember anything, so the police had gone to great lengths in creating a detailed reconstruction describing the moment of the impact. But when asked was my sister standing on the sidewalk or crosswalk when she was hit, all the analyst could answer was "neither possibility can be ruled out". He knew that absolute answers to these questions were no longer for us to grasp.

The non-platonist view on mathematics is that it is a human invention, an approximation of reality that often simplifies and distorts in order to compact things to a humanly graspable level. Reality is typically too complex to describe. Mathematics simplifies this by only describing the relations between objects and events, not the objects and events themselves or their qualities. Yet the qualities of these objects are where their meaning lies to people.

The installation is a dialogue between subjective experience and mathematical reconstruction on the themes of loss and meaning, consisting of photographs, archival material and a photogrammetric reconstruction presented in the form of images and a 2-channel video.

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