Art Histories Seminar
Mi 01 Jul 2015 | 11:00–13:00

Art and Experience in the Age of the Astrolabe

Ittai Weinryb (Art Histories Fellow 2014/15)

Forum Transregionale Studien, Wallotstr. 14, 14193 Berlin

Oxford, MS Bodl. 624, fol. 035v

The advancement of technology has long been associated with new forms of art and congruent shifting  attitudes toward material ‘things’. Recently, Anthropologists, sociologists, art historians, and historians of science have all come to the realization that within the strategies of technological creativity, and within the ontological status of manufactured ‘things’, lies a characteristic which supplies the object with an enhanced operative value. The astrolabe, a sophisticated inclinometer used by scholars, navigators and astrologers, was such a technology. It was a fundamental scientific tool for the amassment of numerical and visual knowledge and for the mathematization of nature. The paper thus will show how the reception of the technology of the astrolabe and the discourse regarding the actual fabrication served as a protagonist in the debate regarding the nature of object and image in the Middle Ages and beyond.


Ittai Weinryb (PhD, Johns Hopkins University) is an assistant Professor at the Bard Graduate Center in New York City and Art Histories and Aesthetic Practices Fellow 2014/15. His area of research and teaching include Art and Material Culture of Western Europe and the Medieval Mediterranean in the nexus of Image and Object Theory, Anthropology, Magic and Religion as well as Medieval Folklore. He has recently completed a book entitled Bronzescapes: Material and Magic in the Making of the Middle Ages. The book deals with the rise and development of monumental bronzes in Medieval Europe. Weinryb is currently also involved in developing a large-scale exhibition dealing with votive offerings (ex votos). He has published in journals such as Word and Image and Gesta and was recently an Andrew Mellon fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton.

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