My Piece of Pi
A Mathematical Artwork designed by David K Butler & drawn by You
On International Pi Approximation Day (22nd of July) we will encourage people to help draw and decorate more than 1000 digits of the decimal expansion of the number pi in chalk on the North Terrace footpath and the University of Adelaide grounds. This artwork is called My Piece of Pi.
2018 Construction day details
- Place: North Terrace Footpath, Adelaide, from the State Library to Bonython Hall and back again
- Date: Sunday 22nd July
- Time: 9am - 4pm
- Facebook event: Link to Facebook event
- Twitter hashtag: #mypieceofpi
YouTube Video of the 2012 version on the North Terrace footpath
This artwork speaks about the wonder of maths as a world of its own and the wonder of maths as a human endeavour.
The number π is part of the very fabric of the universe: it is there in every circle, and appears in the mathematical descriptions of many seemingly unrelated things. Yet it is impossible to write down exactly as a number. It cannot be written as a fraction, and its decimal expansion continues forever with no comprehensible pattern. This artwork highlights this paradox: a number so very fundamental that is so very unknowable. The digits will be written on the ground where people often walk emphasising the pervasive fundamental nature of π. But the day chosen to create the artwork is Pi Approximation Day, emphasising that however many digits we draw it is still only an approximation.
On the other hand, even though π is a fundamental universal constant, it is still a human construction. Humans had the idea of π and thousands of years of human ingenuity have gone into understanding the number. Indeed, we are only able to know as many digits of π as we do because of complex mathematical theories developed in the last century. Members of the community will be engaged to help draw the numbers, to emphasise the human element to mathematics. Each participant will choose their own style, colour and decoration and the total effect will highlight that our knowledge of π is the creative work of hundreds of people over time.
Finally, the collaborative nature of the artwork has further meaning: mathematics and art are not just reserved for so-called 'mathematicians' and 'artists'. In fact, these pursuits are part of being human and any person can engage in them. Observers of this artwork do not have to be merely observers. Instead, they can participate in this mathematical artistic expression, and then stand over one of the digits and claim: here is My Piece of Pi.