Thursday, January 29, 2009

The exploding world

This image from "Mundus subterraneus (1664/65): "Systema Ideale PYRO-PHYLACIORUM Subterraneorum, quorum montes Vulcanii, veluti spiracula quaedam existant" is by Athanasius Kircher, a 17th century German Jesuit scholar, and shows a cross section of the earth with a central fire in its core.
I've looked all over the Internet for a book of his illustrations and the few I've found are between $7000.00 and $30,000.00 from rare book dealers. However this and another one of Kircher's engravings can be bought as a print for under $50.00 from
One of the details I love in this image are the ships you can see on the bottom of the earth between the volcanoes. There is an almost mosaic like quality to this image- and the form reminds me vaguely of a mandala. I don't know why I'm so powerfully attracted to images like this with so much detail and pattern, especially since my own images tend to be almost compulsively pared down, despite my frequent efforts to include more detail.

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