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Op zondag 20 November was ik een van de sprekers op de jaarlijkse online conventie van de Antique Telescope Society. Vorig jaar wilde ik als lid deelnemen, maar had uiteindelijk geen tijd. Nu had ik – na een oproep – mijn abstract ingestuurd en die werd goedgekeurd. Ik heb mijn presentatie vooraf op moeten nemen en ingestuurd, om netwerkproblemen te voorkomen. Een logische stap. Ik was wel live aanwezig in de call om vragen te beantwoorden.
Mijn inzending: Beautiful Mistakes
Johannes de Sacrobosco, a professor at the University of Paris from 1221 onwards wrote a manuscript called Sphaera Mundi in 1230. These were really the Middle Ages, when people still thought you could fall off the earth. He proposed the earth to be round, quite a concept in those days. This was also 400 years before the telescope was invented in my home country, The Netherlands, and 200 years before his manuscript could be published in the first printed books. His book was THE standard in those days at universities around the world and it took hundreds of years before the knowledge in that book became obsolete. Between 1472 and 1650, no less than 369 editions of his book were published,.and I ‘studied’ all of them.
I was looking for one beautiful illustration where he so nicely explained the world had to be round. I found no less than 30 different versions of that illustration, and half of them are just wrong, so wrong that it becomes beautiful! It’s understandable, because making a book, including carving illustrations in wooden blocks, was literally the work of a monk, a tedious task. I will show some great examples of how, without receiving any context or explanation from the creator, it was hard in those days to recreate the illustration, using some beautifully wrong versions.
Another great book I own is a quite rare facsimile of Petrus Apianus’ masterpiece Astronomicum Caesareum. He spent 8 years making it, and during the long process he changed his mind and reused pages. No one would have found out, as it was hidden under the volvelles with paper calculators. Until they used Tycho Brahe’s personal copy of the book to make the facsimile in 1967. They should have known better in those more modern days, but 3 mistakes were made, one revealing the ‘deliberate mistake’ Peter Apianus made 400 years earlier. Together with Lars Gislen, a professor from Lund University in Sweden, we dove in again (as specialist Owen Gingerich already pointed out when the facsimile was first published) and explained what Apianus’ initial plan was. We corrected the facsimile mistakes and made the corrected version available digitally for everyone to recreate and experience themselves.
Bas Griffioen Bas is from Holland and lives with his wife and two teenage kids in a 100 year old farm house right at the border of the largest nature reserve of the province Brabant. As a brand consultant he’s always busy. If not with his clients, he’s busy with one of his many hobby’s: old cars, old motorcycles, old caravans, old cultures, old books: old astronomy books to be specific. The way the knowledge is built up over time is what interests him. From the time there were no tools to look further than the naked eye, the actual moment the telescope was invented in the Netherlands and especially the time right after when people like Galileo Galilei fought against the beliefs of the church. As a designer it’s not just the the ever growing knowledge that counts, but definitely also the beauty of the the book itself and the illustrations, and how sometimes they are wrong, so wrong. I’ll share a nice example from the time there were no telescopes yet.
Omdat ik er dus toch een film van moest maken is die nu dus prima te bekijken. Gaat niet over telescopen en is niet te ingewikkeld, dus ga er even 20 minuten voor zitten zou ik zeggen. Bekijk presentatie
Mijn presentatie heet ‘Beautiful Mistakes’ en ging over de foutjes die ik/we ontdekten in twee van mijn favoriete boeken:
– Sphaera Mundi van Johannes de Sacrobosco uit 1230
– Facsimile van Astronomicum Caesareum van Petrus Apianus uit 1540
Die twee links tonen het ruwe onderzoek dat ik eerder deed en samen heb gevat in deze presentatie. Artikel en presentatie (film) samen geven dus een compleet beeld van mijn fascinatie voor deze beautiful mistakes.