Monday, November 28, 2005

Artificial Magic












Editor, fellow Jesuit and assistant to the exceptional Athanasius Kircher, Kaspar Schott (1608-1666) also ranged in scientific territories with his mentor that bordered the illicit and forbidden world of magick. As one of a number of custodians of the renowned Musaeum Kircherianum, Schott was uniquely placed to elucidate upon the catalogue of fantastical machines of 'artifical magic' on display.

"Perhaps this very flirtation with the black arts was a source for titillation for the princely and religious audience of Kircher’s wonders – an audience directly involved in the persecution of popular magic during the same period – allowing them to experience the “armchair-thrills” of magic without being morally implicated. Jesuit theatrical productions during this period were particularly famous for their stage-machinery – convincing representations of hell were a speciality – and for their hard-hitting moral didacticism, both features that they shared with Kircher’s machinic-performances, as we have seen in the case of the Delphic oracle."
In the preface to his 1657 treatise, Mechanica Hydraulico-Pneumatica, which is displayed in full at the Max Planck Institute's Archimides Project, Schott advises readers -
"There is, in the much-visited Museum (that we will soon publish in print) of the Most learned and truly famous Author mentioned above (i.e. Kircher), a great abundance of Hydraulic and Pneumatic Machines, that are beheld and admired with enormous delight of their souls by those Princes and literati who rush from all cities and parts of the world to see them, and who hungrily desire to know how they are made, and so that I can satisfy their desire to know the construction of the machines, I have undertaken to show the fabric, and almost the anatomy of all of the Machines in the said Museum, or already shown elsewhere by the same author."

[The Archimides Project site has a scaler arrangement preventing extraction of each image at full size, so most of the images here are taken from their zooming features. The 4th and 5th image above are details from the 3rd image]

1 comment:

lindaravenswood said...

thank you for your effort to disseminate this beauty

i am so excited to have found you !!

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