And She Built a Crooked House follows on from the rich history of thinkers who have forayed into the fourth spatial dimension through the lens of maths, physics, history, arts, and more. It offers an expansive backdrop for the exploration of the universe, unrestricted by the bounds of our earthly dimensions.
These mind-expanding explorations have inspired some of the classic literature you might already be familiar with. Conversely, many great works of prose remind us of expeditions into higher dimensional geometries by offering glimpses of worlds wholly different to our own.
To capture the centuries of inspiration yielded from the fourth spatial dimension, and for those who’d like to journey further into this research, we’ve put together a 4D Reading List that includes everything from children’s literature to acclaimed academic text. Take a read, learn how mathematics, art, and history coalesce into coherent narratives, and happy exploring the higher dimensional geometries of this universe.
Image: Gemma Anderson-Tempini, And She Built a Crooked House, Leeds, 2023. Photography by Jules Lister.
The classic novella and social satire about a world that mimics our own, Flatland depicts a world rendered in two dimensions, where its inhabitants are geometric shapes that take up social statuses and occupy a space that extends only in two dimensions.
Informed by Goethe's studies of morphology, this book by the artist behind And She Built a Crooked House explores the tried and tested ways in which drawing as a research practice and method and unveil insights into the morphological intricacies of the natural sciences, mathematics, and art. In collaboration with scientists working on cutting-edge research and inspired by the work of Paul Klee, Anderson-Tempini gives form to the breadth of natural processes as well as the shapes that exist beyond our three-dimensional world.
“Blacklock is leading us once again into the uneasy liminal space between fact and fiction.” - Nina Allan for the Guardian
This historical fiction about one of the foremost figures associated with the fourth spatial dimension is written by author Mark Blacklock, whose essay on And She Built a Crooked House situates the exhibition within the cultural history of higher-dimensional thinking. Following the often unconventional personal life of British mathematician and writer Charles Hinton, this novel entwines historical accuracy with vivid storytelling to tell the tale of four-dimensionality from a human perspective.
The namesake of this exhibition, And He Built a Crooked House by celebrated science fiction author Robert A Heinlein, tells the tale of an architect inspired by the idea of a tesseract as the blueprint for a house he wants to build. What happens when three-dimensional beings enter into a fourth-dimensional building?
Understanding fourth-dimensional geometry fully requires a deep dive into the physics that weave together our physical reality. Luckily, for those of us who aren’t equipped to decipher complex mathematical theorems, A Brief History of Time offers a lucid overview of the cosmos intended for the layperson.
More than a century and a half ago, around the time when interest in mathematical concepts of higher dimensions was taking over Victorian England, this whimsical and oneiric story was published to wide acclaim, capturing the imaginations of children and adults alike. Having been adapted into blockbuster films since, the tale continues to entertain as it pushes its audiences to rethink the possible, where hyperspace and the secret nooks and crannies of the mind find correlation.
This novella, which won the Hugo Award for Best Novelette in 2016, sets out a future society in Beijing that is segregated by class, and where space itself is divided into three. The city folds and unfolds to hide the spaces from one another, keeping populations underground during their “off” times. The protagonist, a waste worker by the name of Lao Dao who lives in the Third Space, is given the opportunity to earn a small fortune for himself and his daughter by smuggling a message into the Second Space. The folding of space and parallel realities is a theme that consistently surfaces in higher dimensional thinking, and Folding Beijing exemplifies how this type of spatial imagining can provide the framework for deeper societal analysis.
A classic science fiction novel where readers encounter otherworldly beings and the dark forces of the universe, A Wrinkle in Time follows the adventures of a young girl named Meg Murry whose father has mysteriously disappeared. Central to the book are tesseracts, which we might know as the version of a cube that is fourth-dimensional. In A Wrinkle in Time, however, tesseracts are a method to travel through space. Whilst time is considered the fourth dimension in this book, a tesseract is the fifth dimension that allows one to traverse impossible distances instantaneously. An adventure through higher dimensional realities, this book offers a gripping way to explore the possibilities of the fourth spatial dimension.
Whilst many philosophers have explored the nature of reality throughout the centuries, Technic and Magic offers a way to rethink the rationalist approach to understanding existence. Just as Gemma Anderson-Tempini explores new approaches to knowledge through reconfiguring taxonomy or exploring possibilities beyond our three-dimensional reality through her artwork and artistic research, Campagna provides the framework for imagining a way to break through the rigid conventions that paint our epistemological reality.
One of American author Kurt Vonnegut’s most famous novels, this darkly humorous and often existential satire follows the life of a man named Billy, who unwittingly becomes unstuck in time. War, aliens, the blurring between the all-too-real and not-quite-believable coupled with Vonnegut’s signature succinct writing makes this classic a beloved work of art decades after its initial publication. And the fact that Billy Pilgrim continually swings from one reality to another reminds us of the installation at Burton Grange, where minds are stretched beyond their earthly confines through playful interventions based in reality.
We couldn’t complete this list without a nod to the original wardrobe through which a fantastical world beyond our imagination exists, when a wardrobe of similar function resides at And She Built a Crooked House. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe sees the four Pevensie children enter a wardrobe in a large house in the English countryside, through which danger, adventure, and glory await. Whilst the book series is not directly linked to the mathematical underpinnings of the fourth spatial dimension, themes of the extraordinary found within ordinary spaces and the existence of parallel universes remind us of the fertile ground for imagination that higher dimensional thinking can offer us.
One of the few authors who has been given the title Father of Science Fiction, stories by H. G. Wells occupy popular thought in the form of both classic novels and Hollywood films. Alive around the same time as Charles Hinton, there is evidence to suggest that Wells was influenced by Hinton’s writing and ideas, with overlaps in some of the themes of their writings. With over 50 novels and a wealth of other publications under his belt, themes of parallel universes and other worlds are a constant. One that reminds us most of the particularities of the 4th spatial dimension is the Time Machine, in which time becomes a dimension that simulates space, traversable given the right mechanics.
There are countless other books that relate to the playful, scientific, and mind-expanding aspects of And She Built a Crooked House. We’ve included listed a few more, including those that have helped us understand the depths of the fourth spatial dimension, inspired the essays written for the exhibition, or pushed us to think further than the three-dimensional reality of our everyday:
George Batchelor - The life and legacy of G.I. Taylor
Mark Blacklock - The Emergence of the Fourth Dimension
Linda Dalrymple Henderson - The Fourth Dimension and Non-Euclidean Geometry in Modern Art
Charles Howard Hinton - An Episode of Flatland: or How a Plane Folk Discovered the Third Dimension
Charles Howard Hinton - A New Era of Thought
Charles Howard Hinton - Stella and an Unfinished Communication: Studies in the Unseen
P. D. Ouspensky - Tertium Organum
Cabanne Pierre - Dialogues with Marcel Duchamp
Leonard Susskind - The Black Hole War
Johann Karl Friedrich Zöllner - Transcendental Physics
Want to contribute to this growing list? Join the conversation and let us know about the higher dimensional books you’ve been reading by posting your picks with hashtag #4DReadingList on either Instagram or X, and don’t forget to tag us.