The rotation technique
Leonardo provides us with such a rich combination of elements, fields of knowledge and lessons through the Mona Lisa, because he studied not only art, but also architecture, mathematics, anatomy and natural sciences. We must become thinkers like Leonardo himself, if we wish to even begin to understand the Mona Lisa.25
25 Of Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences, also learned by Leonardo, see more in Appendix 4.
Image 32. Rotating Mona Lisa
If we think of numbers as areas, the number π can be thought of as number 1 in motion: if the line length of 1 is rotated into a circle, the area of the circle is π. The area of the circle is
A = πr2, r = 1, thus A = π.
In this vein, it is also possible to set the Mona Lisa in motion. The rotating point can, of course, be whatever we wish, but one possible spot to begin from, is the golden gnomon on the right side (see Image 28). In the language of symbolism, ‘rotation’ can be considered the same as the Egyptian hieroglyph ‘walking legs’ – it simply means ’to move’, ‘to come’ and ‘to walk’.
Leonardo himself highlighted the idea of reasonable creation.26 He meant that when creating something, say a painting, no single paintbrush is made without a reason behind the deed. In his journals, Leonardo writes: “Those who are in love with practice without knowledge are like the sailor who gets into a ship without rudder or compass and who never can be certain whether he is going. Practice must always be founded on sound theory, and to this Perspective is the guide and the gateway; and without this nothing can be done well in the matter of drawing. The painter who draws merely by practice and by eye, without any reason, is like a mirror which copies every thing placed in front of it without being conscious of their existence.” (Richter, 1888)
26 This term is presented in House of Truth, where it is said to be the mental marriage of Reason and Creativity.