Why Did The Mathematician Go To The Art Gallery? [Beatrice A. Taylor Searle/Joe Hughes, UK, 2020]

Why Did The Mathematician Go To The Art Gallery? is a charming little short about life and what we do with it, along with art and what meaning it can hold to us. It follows the day off for a man (who is presumably a mathematician, given the title) and follows his train of thought as he decides to visit the Tate Modern.

The short takes a very interesting approach in showing the main character's thoughts. Instead of having a cliched narration over the top of the film, the director decides to put all of his thoughts into subtitles. This means that the film is completely silent except for the simple but calming soundtrack. These subtitles are really quaint and the fact that they’re in a basic white font with a black background add to the unenthused attitude of the main character. They could have been made more stylishly but that would have distracted from the main point of the short. However, there are a few typos in the text. This does pull you out a bit and it’s a real shame because it would only have required a quick look over.


Despite the fact the plot is incredibly basic, the film is quite soothing. There’s nothing really stressful going on or anything that requires an extreme emotional response. Indeed, it feels like a day off – cool and calm. Once again, this is a result of the music and a lot of the visuals as well as the reasonably profound thought captions. There is one scene which takes place in the art gallery itself, which is very clearly inspired by Ferris Bueller’s Day Off [John Hughes, USA, 1986]. In fact that film is probably an inspiration for this whole short.


Though there are a few dodgy shots that were clearly made in a bit of a rush, and the aforementioned typos, Why Did The Mathematician Go to the Art Gallery? is a nice and mindful experience. You will come out at the end and take a big, deep breath feeling a little bit more relaxed and calm, ready for the rest of the day.

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