Hi, I’m Jeffrey Ventrella. I’m an artist and a computer programmer. I’m also a visual language geek.
I spent the early part of my life as a failure in mathematics. By most standards, I am still a math flunky.
I believe that Visual Mathematics should be an academic discipline (as well as Visual Langage and Media Literacy). For young people who are just beginning to climb the ladder of symbolic abstraction, most mathematical concepts are best grasped using pictures, motions, sounds, and interactions.
Pure math is sufficiently stripped of sensory modalities so as to be distilled into its most terse and elegant expression. But while abstraction and generalization are important to math, that doesn’t mean this is the best way to learn it. An experienced mathematician can sit motionless in a chair with closed eyes and engage in high-level math…but we mustn’t forget the journey that lead this mathematician to such a skillful state. That journey involved concrete sensory experience and embodied metaphors. The journey is very human…in fact: animal. It is a process of generating abstractions from the grounding metaphors we have in the fusion of mind and body – as expressed by Lakoff and Nunez in Where Mathematics Comes From. Thus, sensory experience is the origin of the mathematical process. I agree with Brian Rotman on the need to take God out of mathematics and put the body back in.
I believe that math education should be founded on sensory process, creativity, and construction, as the foundation for learning the process of abstraction – inspired by the philosophy of Contructionism.
Besides a life of creativity using software as my canvas, many of my ideas come from my experience in creating the illustrations for Seymore Papert’s book, The Children’s Machine, and from studying under Mitch Resnick at the Media Lab.
I am currently employed at Visual Music Systems, a Boston company developing high-end technology for realtime, gestural control of immersive 3D computer graphics.
I have two books that deal with visual math:
Many of my explorations can be found at Ventrella.com.