‘Thinking Space’ is a film commissioned by the London Mathematical Society [LMS] that uses observational documentary methods to establish a succinct and poetic portrayal of mathematical thinking using the work and thoughts of nine world-leading mathematicians. By filming interviews away from academic office-spaces it brings a more complete sense of the ‘place’ of mathematical thinking in the lives of each protagonist to emphasize a profound relationship between cognition and environment. The film avoids an explanation of the mathematicians' research to allow the striking unavailability of mathematical concepts to verbal analogy to linger and so invite a recognition of the presence of mathematical beauty within their visualisations.
The film emerges from Morstang's long-term research focus to reveal equivalences between intuitive recording of unfolding narratives through observational documentary filmmaking and the recurrence of intuitive thinking across broad scientific practices. It offers an accessible commentary on the transcendent role of mathematics as humanistic endeavour as it simultaneously engages with the genre of documentary filmmaking (‘Fermat's Last Theorem’ [Singer, 1996]; ‘Colours of Math’ [Eremenko, 2012] that aims to integrate insight from several disciplines with the technical and formal concerns of the documentary.
The LMS celebrated and promoted ‘Thinking Space’ and the film premiered at the Science Museum London, as part of the ‘Lates’ programme, alongside a public lecture by Sir Roger Penrose during its four-day mathematics festival. It featured on LMS' homepage as part of their 150th Anniversary. Subsequently LMS invited Morstang to produce nine film shorts entitled 'Frames of Mind' for wider distribution through social media: www.lms.ac.uk
‘Thinking Space’ proved significant to LMS' international scientific network by inclusion at the prestigious international mathematics gathering at Heidelberg Laureate Forum Foundation Film Festival. It has also received recognition at international film festivals within documentary filmmaking, reaching global audiences.