exquisite circles

Plate from Die Radiolarien (Rhizopoda radiaria) – Ernst Haeckel [1862]
Plate from Die Radiolarien (Rhizopoda radiaria) – Ernst Haeckel [1862]
My fascination for circles continued last week when cruising around Facebook I came across a post on the awakened eye that pointed to a piece called ‘The Rhetoric of Weird Wonders Gleefully Carousing in Morphospace : The Biodiversity Heritage Library’s Flickr Collection.’ The name alone seemed a mouth-full and would normally have had me scrolling past with judgement of ‘too hard’, however the accompanying image stopped me in my tracks. What’s that… click! The screen flicked over to a blog called Data is Nature, and as much as I found the text a bit high brow for a quick scan, I was fascinated by the images of exquisite scientific illustration.

The author Paul Prudence writes in his post:
Scientific illustration, especially of a biological kind, reached an apex in terms of draughtsmanship and delicateness during 19th century before photography became widespread. Though the emphasis on these illustrations was on accuracy, utility and facsimile of biodiversity, the personal aesthetics of the artists inevitably wrestled their way into the frame. Ernst Haeckel’s brilliant illustrations are the canonical example of this kind of treatment. (continued here)

Phew!

On viewing and sitting with these illustrations there is no doubt they are of an exact scientific nature, however, for me it is the placement of the circles, and the subtle work of pencil that evokes an etherial beauty. Some forms appear feminine and organic, and yet a surprising element of the masculine and mechanical appear in others. All of which felt like a pointing to something deeper and perhaps beyond the duality of our world.

I found myself re-reading the post and trying to understand what Prudence was saying about Haeckel’s work. What does ‘canonical’ mean? When in doubt… Google it! The definition of CANONICAL FORM is ‘the simplest form of something’ in a mathematical context. I felt even more pulled into these drawings; bathing in their beauty, simplicity and form as captured by the artist.

Simplicity = Circles = Form in Beauty = Awareness (to me).

Mx

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