BBC Look East on Spiritus: Light and Dark and the Cambridge e-Luminate Festival

 Karen Monid interviewed on BBC Look East, as part of the Cambridge e-Luminate Festival, and Spiritus: Light and Dark created with Ross Ashton, taking inspiration from Robert Grosseteste.

Spiritus – Light and Dark

A shortchanged film montage of most of Spiritus – we’ll have an official copy for the website in due course: this is to give the impression of how beautiful the piece was. Ross and Karen attended the latest Ordered Universe workshop together, in Durham in September last yea. This took the treatises On the SphereOn the Six Differences and looked over those On the Liberal ArtsOn the Generation of Sounds and the Seven Liberal Arts. The fruits of this collaboration are wonderful: a show meditative than World Machine, contemplating the different notions of creation between the Middle Ages and modern cosmology. Music is used, wholly consonantly with the place ancient and medieval authors gave to it in discussions of the harmony of the universe, and its rational, ratio-laden structure, to move the show forward, human voices entering only at the end. Different spurs for creation are considered too, natural explanation and spiritual, with the whole experience an immersive treat for the senses.

Ordered Universe at Cambridge e-luminate – Spiritus: Light and Dark

An absolutely fantastic day in Cambridge on February 10th, with the launch of the e-luminate festival. Ordered Universe team members, Giles Gasper, Tom McLeish, Richard Bower, Hannah Smithson and Sebastian Falk presented the project, and interactive activities on medieval and modern science to the public at Great St Mary’s Church. With over 250 visitors to the displays we were very glad to support Ross Ashton and Karen Monid’s simply breathtaking projection show Spiritus: Light and Dark. This was a dazzling juxtaposition of medieval astronomical thought, modern cosmology, and a wonderful tribute to the scientific imaginations, of Grosseteste and his later successors, the contemplative beauty of music inspired by Hildgard of Bingen, and the artistry to bring all of these together in a bewitching sequence. If you are in Cambridge the show, and all of the others across the city (as well as other events around e-luminate) are on until the 15th Feb: it will be well worth the trip. Ordered Universe members were very grateful for the assistance too of Jinni Tang (Durham University) and Eleanor Puttock (Faraday Institute) in marshalling the exhibits and audiences, and to Rev. John Binns and the staff at Great St Mary’s. Astrolabes, the world of Robert Grosseteste, visualising the medieval cosmos, a modern oculus rift journey into dark matter, contemporary glasswork from the National Glass Centre, University of Sunderland, and optical experiments from the 13th century. We all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves!

Images from Giles Gasper, Ross Ashton and Karen Monid

Spiritus: Ordered Universe at the Bouygues UK Cambridge e-Luminate Festival: ‘Let There be Light!’

Friday 10th: Great St Mary’s Church, Cambridge, 15.00-19.30: Ordered Universe will be presenting Let There be Light! Medieval and Modern Science on Light, which starts with a series of short talks from 15.00 – 17.00 on the project, its research and the new projection by Ross Ashton and Karen Monid which forms part of the e-Luminate Festival. Come and hear Ross Ashton on the making of the show, Richard Bower from Durham’s Institute of Computational Cosmology on modelling Grosseteste’s treatise On Light, Hannah Smithson, Experimental Pscychology – University of Oxford, on Emobodied Light and Grosseteste’s theories of colour and the rainbow, Giles Gasper, Durham University, History Department, on Grosseteste and his scientific writings, and Tom McLeish, Physics, Durham University on lessons for modern debate between science and religion from the Middle Ages.

After the talks, the research team will be showing some interactive aspects of our research, and a poster exhibition, with more on the project, medieval science, modern vision science and galaxy modelling. Dr Sebastian Falk from Girton College will be joining us with a display on astroblabes. The talks and activities are free, the timetable and programme are listed below. Please do come along if you are in Cambridge, or to let others know!spiritus-poster

Spiritus – Sneak Preview

An early preview of Spiritus – Light and Dark, for the Bouygues UK Cambridge e-luminate Festival next week. Thanks to Ross Ashton and Karen Monid for sharing the images – a wonderful collision of scientific ideas past and present, Hildegard of Bingen as well as Grosseteste, Dark Matter and the Galaxy Formation. Appetite whetted? Come to Cambridge and see it live!

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e-Luminate Cambridge Festival

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Next week, Friday 10th February is the opening of the Bouygues UK e-Luminate Cambridge Festival 2017. The Festival runs until the 15th, and features a wide variety of artworks, projections and related events. It is particularly exciting for the Ordered Universe project: one of the featured projects is part of the continued collaboration between the project and Ross Ashton and Karen Monid of the Projection Studio. Forming part of the Project Cosmos the new projection is entitled Spiritus – Light and Darkness, and well feature on the facades of Senate House and the Old School in Cambridge for the duration of the Festival.

Taking inspiration from Isaiah 45:7 “…I form the light, and create darkness…”, Ross and Karen have based the show around Grosseteste’s astronomical, cosmological and optical treatises. The new projection compares and contrast the works on Cosmology and Light by Grosseteste with the most up to date interpretations of the Universe and its formation. Ordered Universe work on the De sphera – On the SphereDe sex differentiis – On the Six Differences, De luce – On Light provide the foundation for the exploration, with a captivating array of medieval images, from Hildegard of Bingen, to scientific diagrams, and angel carvings and statues form the Berlin Nikolaikirche. Alongside these the projection features three-dimensional ‘maps’ of real and dark matter which attempt to explain how dark matter must be distributed to create the universe that we see. These ‘maps’ have been produced in collaboration with the Institute of Computational Cosmology at Durham University.

Spiritus – Light and Darkness brings together, then, the latest research from Ordered Universe, on Grosseteste’s astronomical works. Ross and Karen were able to attend our last symposium, in September 2016, to share with us, and and their own insights on, and interaction with, the text. Together with the dark matter modelling at the ICC, led by Richard Bower, these very different projects have opened up fascinating areas of similarity, and artistic development. From World Machine at the Durham Lumiere Festival in 2015, our engagement with Ross and Karen has provoked challenging thoughts about scientific investigations in the past and the present day. How these ideas are expressed, harnessed and their significance explored and presented, is an important element in modern discourse on science and its place in culture. To see the strangeness of the phenomena discussed, to experience the cascade of imagery and sound, is, we hope, to invoke wonder and curiosity.

(Image used: from https://www.cambridgelivetrust.co.uk/e-luminate/2017-theme)

Public Talk in Durham 24th Jan: Medieval and Modern Explanations of Colour

Hannah Smithson will be delivering a public lecture in Durham next week, as part of the Institute of Advanced Study’s Fellows’ Public Lecture series.

Medieval and Modern Explorations of Human Colour Perception
will take place on
Tuesday 24 January 2017, 17:30 to 18:30

in the Joachim Room, College of St Hild & St Bede, Durham University

Talk outline: Can science today learn from thirteenth century literature? An interdisciplinary team of physicists, medievalists, Latin scholars and historians of science has embarked on a rich encounter with the great medieval English thinker Robert Grosseteste (1175-1253). The team presents Grosseteste’s treatise the De colore (On colour), to reveal and explore the three-dimensional space within which he characterises colour. His later treatise the De iride (On the rainbow) revisits his theory of colour generation, but with surprising results when seen from modern perspectives. By using medieval studies and modern colour science, the treatises can be interpreted in new, stimulating and more complete ways. Almost 800 years after their inception, Grosseteste’s writings prompt us to explore a new coordinate system for colour.

Directions to the Joachim Room, College of St Hild & St Bede with a Map – College of St Hild & St Bede is denoted as building No. 30. For more information about this event please contact enquiries.ias@durham.ac.uk.

Please do feel free to come along, to meet Hannah and other members of the Ordered Universe team!

Ely Cathedral: Open Seminar 11th February 2017

Ordered Universe members Hannah and Giles will be talking at Ely Cathedral on February 11th this year. The seminar is timed to coincide with the Cambridge e-Luminate Festival, where Ordered Universe’s Project Cosmos will be showing.

ely-posterThe open seminar from the Ordered Universe Reseach Project (www.ordered-universe.com) is dedicated to interdisciplinary invetigation of the scientific works of Continue reading

Ordered Universe Reading Group (Durham)

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Just a short notice to say that our informal reading group will continue during Epiphany Term at Durham University. The first meeting of the term will be tomorrow, 17th January, from 15.00-17.00 in the Department of History, Seminar Room 1 and the programme for the term is embedded above. The Reading Group will continue to examine the Natural Questions of Adelard of Bath. All the reading is in English, with reference to Adelard’s Latin text as appropriate.

This reading group is intended primarily for staff and graduate students of Durham University but if you’d like to register interest please contact Giles Gasper or Tom McLeish (g.e.m.gasper@durham.ac.uk – t.c.b.mcleish@durham.ac.uk).

Update: The venue for the seminars on 20th February (15.00-17.00) and 13th March (15.00-17.00) is now the IAS Seminar Room.

The Nebula image in the poster is reproduced from HubbleSite STISci.

Colour, Light, Glass and Exploding Rainbows

Our Through a Glass Darkly meeting last week gave a considerable amount of food for thought. Catching up with the progress that the Ordered Universe team have made on Grosseteste’s treatises over the last three symposia On the Liberal Arts, On the Generation of SoundsOn the Six DifferencesOn the Sphere and the very first glimpses of On Comets was a reminder, again, of the range, complexity and beauty of his thought. The themes of body and of movement, of the influence of bodies on one another and the interplay of authoritative models and the natural world around him, emerge in these discussions in a powerful and prominent manner. We can see more clearly the three stages through which Grosseteste’s thought moves, from an alchemical, elemental and astrological view of the universe, to one dominated by light and embodied light at that, to the influence of light rays. These modes are not discreet, but overlapping, and are not presented by Grosseteste as contradictory to each other. His condemnation of judicial astrology in the Hexaemeron, for example, is orthodox and Augustinian, astrology cannot take the place of free will and must not be imagined to come to to doing so. At the same time Grosseteste reveals a frustration with technological inadequacies that render accurate measurement of time and space too difficult to make predictive judgment from star-gazing possible. Continue reading