Catoptrics literally and figuratively

In 212BC Archimedes supposedly used a parabolic ‘burning mirror’ to set the attacking Roman ships on fire. In 1646 Anthanasius Kircher, in his book The Great Art of Light and Shadow speculated that Archimedes would have had more success if he had used multiple mirrors each focusing the sun in a giant parabolic shape. Kircher’s groundbreaking catoptrics were borne out in today’s solar furnaces and generators. Now Spencer Tunick revises the idea at the current republican convention and with his trademark naked participants. As 100 nude women hold large mirror discs ‘to reflect the knowledge and wisdom of progressive women and the concept of “Mother Nature” into and onto the convention center’ Tunick joins the figurative metaphor of enlightenment to age old catoptric science. However the women are phalanxed to form a series of flat reflective surfaces. The work would have had a different valency if he had organised their naked bodies into a parabolic surface as Kircher suggested, focussing their rays onto Trump , who invites volatility.

Frontispiece, Anthanasius Kircher, The Great Art of Light an Shadow, 1646

Frontispiece, Anthanasius Kircher, The Great Art of Light an Shadow, 1646

 Anthanasius Kircher, The Great Art of Light an Shadow, 1646

Anthanasius Kircher, The Great Art of Light an Shadow, 1646

Anthanasius Kircher, The Great Art of Light an Shadow, 1646

Anthanasius Kircher, The Great Art of Light an Shadow, 1646

Spencer Tunick work at republican convention, 2016

Spencer Tunick work at republican convention, 2016

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