Science hasn’t always been the science we think of and practice in the 21st century. For example, Isaac Newton, famed English physicist and mathematician was not the scientist we believe him to be as Stuart Clark’s Sept. 21, 2012 post for the UK’s Guardian newspaper online points out,
Often wrongly portrayed as a cold rationalist, Isaac Newton is one of history’s most compelling figures. It is true that he was capable of the most precise and logical thought it is possible for a human to achieve: his three years of obsessive work that gave birth to the Principia, containing his theory of gravity, stand as the greatest achievement in science.
Just as certainly, though, he was also consumed with what we would now view as completely unscientific pursuits: alchemy and biblical prophesy. [emphasis mine]
Tempting as it is to dismiss all of this as somehow removed from Newton’s science, his belief in spirits and what the alchemists called active principles almost certainly allowed him to conceive gravity in the mathematical form that we still use today. [emphasis mine]
Today’s science practice is the result of a long process and it includes the embarrassing (for some) such as alchemy and biblical prophecy, as well as, a 19th century scandal where an occultist, Madame Blavatsky, attempted to introduce Hindu and Buddhist teachings into Western Science.
A science installation featuring spiritualism à la Blavatsky, The Veil of Nature: Museum of Liminal Science, and an environment resembling a 19th century laboratory that immerses the participant in a multi-media, multi-sensory experience is opening on Friday, June 14, 2013. From the June 10, 2013 Simon Fraser University (Vancouver, Canada) news release,
Imagine walking into a multi-media environment that looks like a 19th century science lab on the outside but, on the inside, immerses you into a sensory world where science, spirituality, illusion and intuition fuse.
Gruben [Patricia Gruben], a screenwriter, filmmaker and associate professor, and Gotfrit [Martin Gotfrit], a music composer, sound designer and professor, will unveil The Veil of Nature: Museum of Liminal Science on Friday, June 14 at a reception. It is from 6 to 9 p.m. in Room 2205, Goldcorp Centre.
The duo’s free, public, cube-shaped, multi-sensory world will remain open until July 6. A presentation in its own right, the installation is also intended to prime the public’s creative appetite for The Secret Doctrine. The play, penned by Gruben, is about the intellectual triumphs and scandals that engulfed Helena Blavatsky, a 19th century Russian occultist.
The play runs July 2 to 6 at the Goldcorp Centre. [149 West Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC Canada]
Scholars and scientists of Blavatsky’s day alternately lauded and defamed the co-founder of the Theosophical Society in India in 1881 for injecting Hindu and Buddhist teachings into western science. Blavatsky’s ideas are laid out in her tome, The Secret Doctrine, published in 1889. Gruben’s play is named after the book.
Gotfrit composed the music and soundscape for the installation as well as the play. Toronto-based designer Marian Wihak conceived of the installation’s innovative design. …
“We wanted to explore the threshold between rational science and intuition and we could only go so far in the play because we have to keep the story moving. The installation allows visitors to experience for themselves some of the questions that Blavatsky posed.
“For example, we play with the illusionary nature of our world, the interchangeability of matter and energy and the cyclical rather than linear progression of time.”
Adds Gotfrit: “The sound and music are designed to offer another sensory mode and to extend visitors’ experience beyond the visual, tactile and olfactory,” adds Gotfrit. “I use a multi-channel immersive audio system and my generative music software to trigger visitors’ aural experience and respond to it subtly.”
You can get more information about the installation and about Madame Blavatsky at the http://www.theveilofnature.net./,
June 14 – July 6, 2013, Tuesdays through Saturdays
Open 3 – 8 pm, Appointment recommended
Room 4350, Goldcorp Centre for the Arts
149 W.Hastings, SFU Woodwards, Vancouver
I tried to make an appointment/sign up for a time but was unable (not sure if it was the system or me). You can try for yourself here. As for Gruben’s play, The Secret Doctrine, you can find out more and/or buy tickets here.
ETA June 12, 2013: Patricia Gruben very kindly noted (in response to my query) that you have to scroll over to the extreme right to click on the SAVE button in the lower corner of the screen after filling in your name and choosing a date and time to book a viewing of the installation. (On my system the button had moved [disappeared from my perspective] and I didn’t scroll all the way to right.)
I wish them well with the installation. I last wrote about immersive experiences and installations in a March 6, 2013 posting about the Cleveland Museum of Art.
I recently posted (June 7, 2013) about an immersive, transmedia theatre production opening in Vancouver, Canada, You Are Very Star. For anyone who can’t get to Vancouver, you can get a bit of the show experience and, for those of us who will be attending the show, our experience can start at any time, from the *June 10, 2013 announcement (Note added June 12, 2013: The show opens on June 15, 2013 but there are previews in the days leading up to it),
Electric Company Theatre would like to invite you to begin your You Are Very Star experience. The show doesn’t begin when you walk through the doors at the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre in Vanier Park.The show is now.We recommend that you begin this endeavour as soon as possible, as you will have the opportunity to explore and investigate in the coming days before your scheduled performance.As it is an online experience using innovative technology, we recommend that you take the following steps:1. Use a computer, as you will not be able to view it on a tablet or smartphone.2. Restart your computer (a fresh slate is good for all of us). Close other applications and browser tabs;3. Viewing experience will be most optimal on Chrome. You may also use Firefox or Safari browsers- they should have the most recent update;If you have any issues with the experience, please let me know by responding to this email.Are you ready?
I’ve tried it both on Chrome and on Firefox. Both the Chrome and Firefox experiences were stunning although I experienced slightly better visuals on Chrome; I got further into the experience on Firefox (my system is held together with chewing gum and baling wire). Definitely try this out.
* Corrected June 14 to June 10.