Symmetry: Culture and Science
Volume 29, Number 1, pages 005-006 (2018)


György Darvas

This text is based on my introductory notes before the lecture by Haresh Lalvani in the framework of the Vienna Lectures series, at the Symmetry Festival held in Vienna, 21 July 2016 http://festival.symmetry.hu/videos-symmetry-festival-2016-vienna/haresh-lalvani. H. Lalvani was elected as Honorary Member of the International Symmetry Association on the previous day and this event was also his inauguration. Following a short laudation and excerpts from the rich list of achievements in his bio (cf., pp.240), I added personal impressions and a few words about the Vienna Lectures series.

First, I would like to add a few personal words. Haresh Lalvani and I know each other for a quarter century since – following a few years of correspondence – we first met personally in Albany, NY, in 1992, and then I was his guest in New York City in 1995. I have very good memories of New York but what left the deepest impression on me was when Haresh invited me to New York's Cathedral of St John the Divine, a portion of which was still under construction at the time. He was commissioned to design carvings on the arch above the entrance using geometry. This was not the most impressive part – he had a small laboratory on the third floor [the triforium] built within the vaults of the cathedral and he showed me his secrets. His official bio does not speak about this but he showed me sketches of his Periodic Table of Polyhedra1, displayed on the wide walls and narrow tables, which was very impressive. I think it is as important in his career as his design works which are now appreciated very much in the world but also in this circle2 where scientists, artists, designers get together.

I would also like to add a few remarks to the two books that were mentioned in his bio as part of his inauguration.

The book Connections by Jay Kappraff3 in 1990 has a design by H. Lalvani on its cover. The other book4 Shaping and Self-Shaping that was privately published by Haresh in a limited edition three years ago, contains a very good selection of his works, and I would like to cite one work from this book. This is a short comment to a public sculpture whose picture he will show in his lecture, I'm sure, and he has added a brief text to this large sculpture:

Seed545 has a new geometry. We don't know yet if it exists in nature. Maybe someday it will, with or without our help.”

I think this is very important notice for us. It tells us much about and explains his wide interdisciplinary experience: investigations into the science of geometry, the implementation of his new findings in design, elaborating the technology of realisation, and their realisation in artworks. All these together cover the wide scope of the aims of our Association.

I also want to mention that he has created many such sculptures and I hope he will speak about those and others which can be viewed as models of singularities in strong gravitational fields.

Second, let me express our thanks to the Cultural Department of the city government of Vienna for inviting H. Lalvani’s lecture in the three decades long prestigious series of the so called Vienna Lectures. This series gained wide respect, thanks to the high standard of lecturers, scientists and artists. It includes a series "Wiener Nobelpreisträgerseminar" each year with dozens of Nobel Laureates over the past years, and a continuous series of lectures with invited lecturers, whose list includes two Nobel laureates and among others, Peter Christian Aichelburg, Manfred Eigen, Ernst Gombrich, Hermann Haken, György Konrad, Dennis L. Meadows, Jiri Musil, Roger Penrose, Herbert Pietschmann, Horst Seidler, Peter Sloterdijk, Jean-Jacques Salomon, Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker, Simon Wiesenthal, Jody Williams, Anton Zeilinger, as well as legendary presidents and chancellors of Austria, the writer and Czech president Václav Klaus, Mikhail Gorbachew, Adam Michnik. The Cultural Department of the city government of Vienna co-sponsored the event associated with the Symmetry Festival 2016.

1 The images being referred to appear on Plates 5.1, 7.5 and others not reproduced here.
2 Members of the International Symmetry Association, attending and contributing to the Symmetry Festival.
3 The cover image on Kappraff’s book [Kappraff, 1990] is from Lalvani’s work in 1985 (with software by Patrick Hanrahan) at the Computer Graphics Laboratory, NYIT. It is a slice through a 3D projection of a 6D cube selected from serial sections. It is based on icosahedral symmetry and relates to quasi-crystals. See Plate 24.1.
4 This refers to the “catalog” of the collection of artworks [Lalvani, 2013/’17] including SEED54 (Plate 23.5) being mentioned here.
5 SEED54 is an 8 feet tall sculpture in laser-cut folded stainless steel, installed on 6th Avenue and 54th Street in Manhattan, New York (same block as the Museum of Modern Art [MoMA]).