Belief, Reason, and the Origins of the World in a Striking Series of 19th-Century Illustrations

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“Manufacture of coal” illustration from “God in nature and revelation” (1875) (all images via Internet Archive Book Images)

Galileo and other troublemakers aside, science and religion didn’t have such a complete falling out until the 19th century. It was roughly 200 years ago when researchers started regularly digging up archaeological and paleontological evidence that dated the Earth far earlier than Genesis suggested, and then a man named Darwin was publishing some troubling suggestions on the evolution of life in his 1859 The Origin of Species. But that didn’t mean the sides of belief and reason completely split in two. There were those who tried for a middle ground.

One of the forgotten natural theology books to come out of this era was God in Nature and Revelation (1875) by Reverend J. M. Woodman, published in the United States by J.G. Hodge & Co. It proclaims itself a “teacher of natural, mental, and moral philosophy, of natural and revealed religion” on its title page, joined by an illustration of Jesus standing on the planet alongside encircled by man and beast alike. Throughout the text are links between the Bible and the scientific formation of the world, but questionable connections aside, the accompanying images are surprisingly intriguing. The world is shown as a repeating orb, changes in the rise and fall of the oceans and the sediments shaded in, all the while the sun never stops glaring down on the proceedings as a constant reminder of a holy influence. It’s the Victorian romanticizing of science and nature colliding with religion.

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How a Fluxus Pioneer Tuned Televisions to a World of Noise

Wolf Vostell, ‘Endogene Depression’ installation view (all images courtesy of galerie Anne de Villepoix unless otherwise noted)
Wolf Vostell, ‘Endogene Depression’ installation view (all images courtesy of galerie Anne de Villepoix and hyperallergic.com unless otherwise noted)

PARIS — Following on the heels of the Jean Dupuy and Robert Filliou gallery exhibitions, a third radical Fluxus-related artist is receiving a museum-quality gallery show in Paris: Wolf Vostell. Vostell was a German who, as an art student in Paris, was co-initiator of the European wing of the Fluxus art movement in the late 1950s and founder of the European Happening scene based in Cologne.

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Visitors in Lake Tahoe Are Taking Too Many Bear Selfies

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A black bear in Taylor Creek near South Lake Tahoe, California, in 2008. IMAGE: RICH PEDRONCELLI/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Conventional wisdom stipulates that upon seeing a wild bear, one should not go near said bear. One should also avoid taking a picture of oneself with said bear.

Visitors to Lake Tahoe this month laugh in the face of conventional wisdom, though. The number of visitors attempting to take selfies with bears in the area has caused the U.S. Forest Service to issue a statement requesting that visitors keep a safe distance from the animals.

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Olafur Eliasson to Show 112 Tons of Ice for ‘Ice Watch’

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Olafur Eliasson: Ice pavilion, 1998. COURTESY http://olafureliasson.net/

COURTESY GROUP GREENLAND

On Sunday, Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson and geologist Minik Rosing will unveil Ice Watch, an installation that will bring 100 tonnes (equivalent to 112 tons) of ice to Copenhagen’s City Hall Square. Taken from a fjord outside Nuuk, Greenland, and displayed like a clock, the installation’s twelve large blocks represent the amount of ice that melts every hundredth of a second due to climate change—a number that will only increase over time.

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Elsa Schiaparelli and the Surrealists

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Elsa Schiaparelli (center) with Salvador Dalí (right), 1949. COLLECTION OF MERYLE SECREST

Long before visitors lined up at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the Alexander McQueen retrospective, the worlds of fashion and art collided in the Surrealist designs of Elsa Schiaparelli. The Italian-born couturier—as famed in her heyday as Coco Chanel—is the subject of Elsa Schiaparelli: A Biography (Knopf). Author Meryle Secrest investigates the designer’s ties with Salvador Dalí, Francis Picabia, Jean Cocteau, and other members of the Parisian avant-garde in the 1920s and ’30s.

Schiaparelli was particularly close with Dalí, with whom she made the memorable “Lobster Dress,” “Shoe Hat,” and “Tears Dress.” The last is a slender gown and veil patterned with Dalí’s trompe l’oeil rips and tears to give the illusion of lacerated flesh. “Dalí had some pretty crazy ideas,” Secrest tells ARTnews. “One of them revolved around the necrophiliac fantasy of the corpse who comes back to life with all the skin torn off,” as seen in his 1936 painting Necrophiliac Springtime. Yet the fabric Schiaparelli concocted “isn’t macabre at all,” Secrest adds. “In her hands, the concept becomes something unusual and strange, but not sadistic.”

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Visualizing Our Tech Worship With Giant Webs of Circuitry

rp_ut_mandala11_f.jpgFor Italian artist Leonardo Ulian, this is our universe. At its center: a microchip. Beyond: resistors, capacitors, inductors, transistors.Ulian’s “technological mandalas”—webs of circuitry in the form of the Hindu or Buddhist symbolic diagrams of the cosmos—are icons for an electronic age, and he’ll be exhibiting them this fall in Milan.

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Charting the Geo-History of Culture

vh720Bigger data gets the bigger picture . . . in this case, the big picture in the form of an amazing visualization of global cultural evolution. In Europe. Things move slowly at the beginning, when the only stars and centers of cultural gravity are Athens and Rome. Watch Europe flicker through the “dark” ages until the Renaissance lights up the map. Of course,  things really get going in the nineteen hundreds with the industrial revolution.

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