Click here to view all Upcoming Events


IFF Directors Talks

IFF Directors Talks 2012
IFF Directors Talks 2011
IFF Directors Talks 2010
IFF Directors Talks 2009


Previous IFF Lectures

Exhibition Opening and Fractal Unveiling
Doheny Library, University of Southern California
Thursday, September 20, 2012 @ 57pm

A Lecture by Ryan and Trevor Oakes
Sat. September 22, 2012 @ 68pm

Theoretical and Practical Explorations of Space

@ Hayward Gallery, London
June 12–14, 2012

IFF Director Margaret Wertheim speaks at Art Center College of Design
June 22, 2011 @ 7pm
With Dr. Jerry Schubel, President and CEO, Aquarium of the Pacific

Captain Charles Moore Talks About Plastic Trash
[IFF-L22] Saturday Jan 17, 2009

IFF Director Margaret Wertheim
Neuroscience Discussions at the LA Public Library

[IFF-L21] October 2 + November 10, 2008

Seeing Anew [IFF-L20]
A lecture by Trevor and Ryan Oakes
at Machine Project Sunday, June 24 @ 7pm

The Logic Alphabet of Shea Zelleweger[IFF-L19]
A discussion with the IFF and Dr. Shea Zelleweger
at Foshay Masonic Lodge Saturday, March 3 @ 5pm

Structural Considerations of the Business Card Sponge[IFF-L17]
By Dr. Jeannine Mosely
Sunday, September 10 @ 8pm

The Insect Trilogy
@ Telic Arts Exchange
How Flies Fly [IFF-L14]
By Dr Michael Dickinson
The Ecology of a Termite's Gut [IFF-L15]
By Dr Jared Leadbetter
What is it Like to be a Spider? [IFF-L16]
By Dr Simon Pollard

Where the Wild Things Are 2:
A Talk About Knot Theory
By Ken Millett
at The Drawing Center in NY.

Where the Wild Things Are 2
by Ken Millett
at the University of California, Santa Barbara

Things That Think:
A hands-on history of physical computation devices.

by Nick Gessler [IFF-L12]

Where the Wild Things Are:
A Talk about Knot Theory

by Ken Millett [IFF-L11]
at The Foshay Masonic Lodge (Culver City)

Crocheting the Hyperbolic Plane:
A conversation on non-euclidean geometry and feminine handicraft

by Dr. Daina Taimina and IFF Director Margaret Wertheim [IFF-L10]

Darwinism on a Desktop:
Sodaplay and the Evolution of a Digital World

by Ed Burton [IFF-L9]

The Logic Alphabet
by Christine Wertheim [IFF-L8]

Why Things Don't Fall Down
A Talk About Tensegrities
by Robert Connelly [IFF-L7]

The Art and Science of Child’s Play

By Norman Brosterman [IFF-L6]

Crocheting the Hyperbolic Plane [IFF-L5]
A Talk by David Henderson and Daina Taimina

The Mathematics of Paper Folding [IFF-L4]
by Robert Lang

The Physics of Snowflakes [IFF-L3]
by Kenneth Libbrecht

Crocheting the Hyperbolic Plane [IFF-L2]
by Daina Taimina and David Henderson

The Figure That Stands Behind Figures:
Mosaics Of The Mind
by Robert Kaplan


Previous Events

Crochet Hyperbolic Workshop
Proteus Gowanus gallery, Brooklyn, NY

Hyperbolic Crochet Workshop:
a celebration of feminine handicraft and higher geometry and a homage to the disappearing wonder of coral reefs.

at The Institute For Figuring – Special Collections

A workshop on crocheting the hyperbolic plane.
at the Velaslavasay Panorama in Los Angeles.


The Institute for Figuring
Announces the third lecture in our Spring 2006 series
The Insect Trilogy


By Dr. Simon Pollard [IFF-16]
Wednesday, June 28 @ 7:30pm
Hosted at Telic Arts Exchange in Chinatown/ Los Angeles
975 Chung King Road
Los Angeles, CA 90012

A jumping spider watching a cartoon spider on TV attacks the virtual competitor as fiercely as if it were the real thing. Photo courtesy Dr. Duane Harland.

In the skies over Lake Victoria on the border of Kenya and Uganda swarms of lake flies mass in clouds so thick they block out the sun. From this dense throng a tiny jumping spider on the ground below can pick out a single mosquito – a hapless victim whose blood engorged stomach will serve as its next meal. Possessing almost feline hunting skills, jumping spiders can see better than any invertebrate and several orders of magnitude better than any other insect. Though their heads are far too tiny to contain a spherical eyeball, jumping spiders have developed eyes with an acuity on a par with mammals. Astonishingly, their miniscule brains can comprehend images on a television screen – a feat of mental processing previously thought impossible for an invertebrate mind.

A Singaporean jumping spider. Two front facing eyes are complemented by two other sets of eyes that allow the animal to see in 360 degree panoramic scope. Here, 4 of the 6 eyes are visible. Photo courtesy Dr Simon Pollard.

Everything about a jumping spider’s vision system demands our admiration – beginning with the number of eyes. In addition to two forward facing lenses that jut out on stalks from the front of its head, a jumping spider has four peripheral eyes that enable it to see at the back of its head. The two front eyes operate on the same principle as a Galilean telescope, the result of the same evolutionary strategy to that taken by eagles and falcons. Information from all six eyes is processed by a brain that contains just a few hundred thousand neurons yet is capable of recognizing television pictures. In this lecture, Dr Simon Pollard will talk about the physics, neurology and perceptual psychology of how a spider sees the world.
Jumping spider of the species evarcha, sizing up a mosquito lure. All spiders are liquid feeders - they must liquify a meal before they can eat it. Most spiders do this by pumping their own stomach juices into the prey turning it into an extension of their own guts. Evarcha gets around this step by siphoning blood directly from the stomach of a freshly engorged mosquito. Photo courtesy Dr Simon Pollard.

Dr Simon Pollard has been studying vision-based cognition in arachnids for over 25 years. In 2003 he and fellow New Zealander Dr Robert Jackson discovered a new species of jumping spider – evarcha – that feeds on the contents of a mosquito’s stomach. Pollard is Curator of Invertebrate Zoology at the Canterbury Museum in Christchurch. The event will include films of spiders watching television and a screening of cartoons made specifically for an arachnid audience.

#1 How Flies Fly – Dr. Michael Dickinson (Thurs, May 4)
#2 The Ecology of a Termite's Gut – Dr. Jared Leadbetter (Thurs, June 1)
#3 What is it Like to be a Spider – Dr. Simon Pollard (Wed, June 28)

The Institute For Figuring is a nonprofit organization devoted to enhancing the public understanding of figures and figuring techniques. This lecture series is hosted by Telic Arts Exchange and funded in part by a grant from the Annenberg Foundation.