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Contemporary interpretation of the Zodiac Man The concept of the simplest form of the Zodiac Man can be dated back to ancient Babylon, while the Mayans and Egyptians used similar depictions. Hebrew, Chinese, Vedic, and ancient Mithraic cultures also shared analogue concepts of man seen as a microcosm. Besides medical purposes, the stars influenced many things in medieval history, such as agriculture, weather and even personality traits. The stars’ movements also helped in diagnosing illnesses or deciding when and if a medical procedure should take place. In the 12th and 13th centuries ancient astrological studies were translated from Arabic to Latin and soon enough became law when calculating the moon’s position before performing any sort of medical procedure. In the second half of the 16th century, relying on astrology for medical purposes, was at its peak in Europe and infiltrated in all social classes.

Almanacs and many other printed forms of astrology were in high demand at this time due to it’s popularity. Most believed that knowledge of the moon and more in general astrology as a whole, was essential part of life. Doctors often carried around special almanacs (or calendars) containing star charts, allowing them to check the positions of the stars before making a diagnosis. Many of these almanacs included pictures that helped to explain complicated ideas to patients. Although the 17th century marked the beginning of a gradual downfall of scientific belief in the Zodiac Man, the concept remains popular even today.

Radiant Matter is adapted into a visual essay with credits and references by designer Salome Schmuki.
Radiant Matter, published by Onomatopee om 2017



Radiant Matter

Photo by Gert-Jan van Rooij, 2017

Radiant Matter is an image essay, relating to different parts of the electromagnetic spectrum (from radio waves to gamma waves) and other kinds of cosmic energies. The essay consists of 250 edited images that are reworked all together so that the entire composition reminds of the scientific observations of the cosmic background radiation. The essay freely connects images from different fields like astronomy, cosmology, medicine, technology, anthropology and space exploration.

The piece explores the influence of electromagnetic waves and different kinds of cosmic energies on the human body, the Earth and other celestial bodies. The images make associative links that highlight the influence of cosmic waves and energy as represented throughout time and and culture. Radiant Matter includes images of scientific and non scientific instruments meant to analyse, imitate, capture or manipulate these specific energies.

Detail of installation, click to enlarge

Commissioned by: 11th Shanghai Biennial (2016), Power Station of Art, CN
Curated by: Raqs Media Collective
Material 250 edited prints on adhesive material, Glued onto a dark black blue painted background panel
Research assistants: Soline Bredin, Sven Dehens
Supported by: Mondriaan Fund