Hear the Trippy Mystical Sounds of Giant Gongs

Grow­ing up I thought there were only two uses for gongs. One was for mak­ing one large bonnnnnnng sound for some­thing impor­tant, like the announce­ment of a roy­al ban­quet or the begin­ning of a J. Arthur Rank pro­duc­tion. The oth­er was as a weapon against car­toon animals–it would make a fun­ny sound and their heads would be turned into a pan­cake. How was I to know there was so much more to gongs, espe­cial­ly 80-inch wide gongs that cost around $27,000? Thank good­ness for YouTube, then.

The above video fea­tures Sven aka Gong Mas­ter Sven aka Paiste Gong Mas­ter Sven (it’s not very clear in the descrip­tion) very gin­ger­ly play­ing this mon­ster sym­phon­ic gong, coax­ing out of it men­ac­ing, echo­ing groans and wails straight out of a hor­ror movie.

Just a gen­tle stroke can cause the met­al to vibrate and feed back onto itself. Using a small­er mal­let pro­duces sounds like whale songs. That some­thing so large can make such a stun­ning array of tones, and react to such del­i­ca­cy is fas­ci­nat­ing. (Watch with head­phones on or a good sound sys­tem, by the way).

If that whets your whis­tle, here’s more gong action with musi­cian Bear Love, who man­ages to make his gong sound like some­thing out of sci­ence fic­tion, incred­i­bly creepy. If there’s a ghost sto­ry movie out there with a one-gong sound­track, I’d believe it.

Michael Bet­tine plays the same Paiste gong in a more famil­iar way, by whack­ing it with a big mal­let. It’s impres­sive, and he doesn’t real­ly hit it that hard. “You can feel your inter­nal organs being mas­saged by the vibra­tions,” he says.

Final­ly, Tom Soltron Czarto­rys­ki, slims it down to a 62 inch “earth gong” with its array of inden­ta­tions, and cre­ates a near­ly 10 minute ambi­ent work, which is one expan­sive dose of space music. Groovy and some­times stress­ful, fas­ci­nat­ing and all-encom­pass­ing. Enjoy!

(Note to self: Resolve to find a local giant gong and have a go.)

via Kottke.org

Relat­ed Con­tent:

A Mod­ern Drum­mer Plays a Rock Gong, a Per­cus­sion Instru­ment from Pre­his­toric Times

Hear a 9,000 Year Old Flute—the World’s Old­est Playable Instrument—Get Played Again

Punk Dul­cimer: The Ramones’ “I Wan­na Be Sedat­ed” Played on the Dul­cimer

Ted Mills is a free­lance writer on the arts who cur­rent­ly hosts the artist inter­view-based FunkZone Pod­cast and is the pro­duc­er of KCR­W’s Curi­ous Coast. You can also fol­low him on Twit­ter at @tedmills, read his oth­er arts writ­ing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.

Radiohead Puts Every Official Album on YouTube, Making Them All Free to Stream

There are those who say that Radio­head was the last of the great rock bands before the inter­net crushed the record indus­try and pop­u­lar music frag­ment­ed into a pro­lif­er­a­tion of micro­gen­res. Maybe it’s fair to say some of those peo­ple have been hum­ming Radio­head songs since the band’s debut, Pablo Hon­ey, in 1992.

And maybe rock isn’t a thing of the past, it’s just evolved, thanks in no small part to Radio­head, who also helped ush­er in the very stream­ing and down­load­ing rev­o­lu­tion that killed the rock star sys­tem. They did so with sev­er­al ground­break­ing exper­i­men­tal albums that seemed to uncan­ni­ly coin­cide with major shifts in dig­i­tal tech­nol­o­gy.

Now you can stream all of those albums on YouTube, from Pablo Hon­ey to 2016’s Moon Shaped Pool. Revis­it not only the songs on their debut besides “Creep” but the albums that dev­as­tat­ed, then reshaped, the indus­try, and irrev­o­ca­bly changed the sound of pop­u­lar music.

Go back to 1997, after Win­dows 95 had put mil­lions more peo­ple behind a PC, and hear Radio­head decon­struct the sound of mas­sive gui­tar rock and reassem­ble it into a Futur­ist machine called OK Com­put­er. Oth­er bands were forced to reeval­u­ate their whole approach. The indus­try held on to the old ways for a few more years, but Radio­head need­ed to change as well.

“There were oth­er gui­tar bands out there try­ing to do sim­i­lar things,” said bassist Col­in Green­wood. “We had to move on.” Thom Yorke believed rock had “run its course.” Then came the dev­as­tat­ing dual attack of Nap­ster and Kid A, The shar­ing ser­vice sent labels into a pan­ic. By the time of the album’s release in 2000, it had been ille­gal­ly down­loaded over a mil­lion times.

Not only did Kid A “kick off the stream­ing rev­o­lu­tion,” as Steven Hyden writes at Grant­land, but young inter­net-savvy indie artists just begin­ning to put their own com­po­si­tions online looked to the record’s warped, glitchy dread for inspi­ra­tion, spin­ning its elec­tron­ic exper­i­men­ta­tion into webs of loose­ly-relat­ed genre hybrids.

As Yorke had pre­dict­ed, Nap­ster encour­aged “enthu­si­asm for music in a way that the music indus­try has long for­got­ten to do.” The indus­try began to col­lapse. File shar­ing may have been utopi­an for lis­ten­ers, but it was poten­tial­ly ruinous for artists. 2007’s In Rain­bows showed a way for­ward.

Released on a pay-what-you-want mod­el, with a “dig­i­tal tip jar,” the release was met with bemuse­ment and con­tempt. (The Man­ic Street Preacher’s Nicky Wire wrote that it “demeans music.”)  Two years lat­er, the jury was still out on the “Radio­head exper­i­ment.”

Yet it wouldn’t be long before both musi­cians and small labels start­ed sell­ing music through Band­camp, which debuted in 2008 with a sim­i­lar busi­ness mod­el, com­bat­ing pira­cy with a kind of online hon­or sys­tem that lets fans deter­mine their own slid­ing scale. (The “dig­i­tal tip jar” has become a stan­dard fea­ture of all online pro­mo­tion.)

Radiohead’s release strate­gies have allowed them to keep sur­pris­ing fans with rar­i­ties, like the sin­gle “Ill Wind” at the top, and Scotch Mist, a 2007 film in which they played songs from In Rain­bows for a New Year’s Eve web­cast (see “Weird Fishes/Arpeggio” fur­ther up). All of these are free to stream, in addi­tion to their nine stu­dio albums and re-releas­es like OKNOTOK, a remas­tered OK Com­put­er.

They may be fol­low­ing indus­try trends this time, espe­cial­ly the Bill­board move to include YouTube video plays in its offi­cial rank­ings. But in its scope, this offer­ing is unique­ly gen­er­ous, and allows a gen­er­a­tion too young to remem­ber “Creep,” Win­dows 95, and the shock gen­er­at­ed by Kid A to dis­cov­er the band’s evo­lu­tion and take it in even more rad­i­cal direc­tions.

via Con­se­quence of Sound

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Radio­head Releas­es 18 Hours of Demos from OK Com­put­er for a Lim­it­ed Time–After Hack­ers Try to Hold Them for Ran­som

The Secret Rhythm Behind Radiohead’s “Video­tape” Now Final­ly Revealed

The 10 Most Depress­ing Radio­head Songs Accord­ing to Data Sci­ence: Hear the Songs That Ranked High­est in a Researcher’s “Gloom Index”

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

20+ Knitters and Crochet Artists Stitch an Astonishing 3‑D Recreation of Picasso’s Guernica

Soft­ness is per­haps not the first qual­i­ty that springs to mind when one imag­ines recre­at­ing the chaos and anguish of Picasso’s Guer­ni­ca in a 3‑dimensional rep­re­sen­ta­tion.

Though how else to describe the pri­ma­ry medi­um of the urban knit­ting group Sul filo dell’arte?

More than 20 fiber artists worked for over a year, metic­u­lous­ly cro­chet­ing embroi­der­ing and knit­ting the most famil­iar ele­ments of the paint­ing as stand-alone fig­ures, to mark the eight­i­eth anniver­sary of the bomb­ing of the small Span­ish town depict­ed in the 1937 mas­ter­piece.

Stu­dents from the State Art School of the Roy­al Vil­la of Mon­za con­tributed the frame­works over which the fiber pieces were stretched.

The result, Guer­ni­ca 3D, was lat­er dis­played as part of Meta­mor­pho­sis, a Picas­so-themed exhi­bi­tion at the Roy­al Palace in Milan.

A look at Sul filo dell’arte’s Insta­gram page reveals that Picas­so is not the only artist to inspire their nee­dles. Fri­da KahloMagritteKei­th Har­ingAndy Warhol, and Vin­cent Van Gogh are among those to whom they have paid painstak­ing woolen trib­ute.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

What Makes Guer­ni­ca So Shock­ing? An Ani­mat­ed Video Explores the Impact of Picasso’s Mon­u­men­tal Anti-War Mur­al

The Gestapo Points to Guer­ni­ca and Asks Picas­so, “Did You Do This?;” Picas­so Replies “No, You Did!”

Behold an Anatom­i­cal­ly Cor­rect Repli­ca of the Human Brain, Knit­ted by a Psy­chi­a­trist

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Join her in NYC on Mon­day, Jan­u­ary 6 when her month­ly book-based vari­ety show, Necro­mancers of the Pub­lic Domain cel­e­brates Cape-Cod­di­ties (1920) by Roger Liv­ingston Scaife. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

Neil deGrasse Tyson Teaches Scientific Thinking and Communication in a New Online Course

One does­n’t nor­mal­ly get into astro­physics for the fame. But some­times one gets famous any­way, as has astro­physi­cist Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Direc­tor of the Hay­den Plan­e­tar­i­um at the Rose Cen­ter for Earth and Space. But that title does­n’t even hint at the scope of his pub­lic-fac­ing ven­tures, from the columns he’s writ­ten in mag­a­zines like Nat­ur­al His­to­ry and Star­Date to his host­ing of tele­vi­sion shows like NOVA and the sequel to Carl Sagan’s Cos­mos to his pod­cast StarTalk and his high-pro­file social media pres­ence. Has any oth­er fig­ure in the annals of sci­ence com­mu­ni­ca­tion been as pro­lif­ic, as out­spo­ken, and as will­ing to talk to any­one and do any­thing?

Here on Open Cul­ture, we’ve fea­tured Tyson rec­om­mend­ing booksgiv­ing a brief his­to­ry of every­thingdeliv­er­ing “the great­est sci­ence ser­mon ever,” chat­ting about NASA’s fly­by of Plu­to with Stephen Col­bert, “per­form­ing” in a Sym­pho­ny of Sci­ence video, invent­ing a physics-based wrestling move in high schoollook­ing hip in grad schooldefend­ing sci­ence in 272 wordsbreak­ing down the genius of Isaac New­tontalk­ing non-New­ton­ian solids with a nine-year-olddis­cussing the his­to­ry of video gamescre­at­ing a video game with Neil Gaiman and George R.R. Mar­tinselect­ing the most astound­ing fact about the uni­verseexplain­ing the impor­tance of arts edu­ca­tion along­side David Byrnepon­der­ing whether the uni­verse has a pur­posedebat­ing whether or not we live in a sim­u­la­tionremem­ber­ing when first he met Carl Saganinter­view­ing Stephen Hawk­ing just days before the lat­ter’s death, and of course, moon­walk­ing.

Now comes Tyson’s lat­est media ven­ture: a course from Mas­ter­class, the online edu­ca­tion com­pa­ny that spe­cial­izes in bring­ing big names from var­i­ous fields in front of the cam­era and get­ting them to tell us what they know. (Oth­er teach­ers include Mal­colm Glad­well, Steve Mar­tin, and Wern­er Her­zog.) “Neil DeGrasse Tyson Teach­es Sci­en­tif­ic Think­ing and Com­mu­ni­ca­tion,” whose trail­er you can watch above, gets into sub­jects like the sci­en­tif­ic method, the nature of skep­ti­cism, cog­ni­tive and cul­tur­al bias, com­mu­ni­ca­tion tac­tics, and the inspi­ra­tion of curios­i­ty. “There’s, like, a gazil­lion hours of me on the inter­net,” admits Tyson, and though none of those may cost $90 USD (or $180 for an all-access pass to all of Mas­ter­class’ offer­ings), in none of them has he tak­en on quite the goal he does in his Mas­ter­class: to teach how to “not only find objec­tive truth, but then com­mu­ni­cate to oth­ers how to get there. It’s not good enough to be right. You also have to be effec­tive.” You can sign up Tyson’s course here.

If you sign up for a Mas­ter­Class course by click­ing on the affil­i­ate links in this post, Open Cul­ture will receive a small fee that helps sup­port our oper­a­tion.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Mas­ter­class Is Run­ning a “Buy One, Give One Free” Deal

Neil deGrasse Tyson Lists 8 (Free) Books Every Intel­li­gent Per­son Should Read

Neil deGrasse Tyson Presents a Brief His­to­ry of Every­thing in an 8.5 Minute Ani­ma­tion

An Ani­mat­ed Neil deGrasse Tyson Gives an Elo­quent Defense of Sci­ence in 272 Words, the Same Length as The Get­tys­burg Address

Neil deGrasse Tyson Says This Short Film on Sci­ence in Amer­i­ca Con­tains Per­haps the Most Impor­tant Words He’s Ever Spo­ken

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

Malcolm Gladwell Rebuts the Terrible Advice Given to Students: Don’t Go to “the Best College You Can,” Go to Where You Can Have “Deeply Interesting Conversations with People” at Night

Mal­colm Glad­well is a writer of many con­trar­i­an opin­ions. His read­ers love the way he illus­trates his ideas with rhetor­i­cal ease, in sto­ry after inter­est­ing sto­ry. Maybe he has too many opin­ions, say his crit­ics, “who’d pre­fer it if Glad­well made small­er, more cau­tious, less daz­zling claims,” Oliv­er Burke­man writes at The Guardian.

But we should take some of his argu­ments, like his defense of Lance Arm­strong and dop­ing in sports, less seri­ous­ly than oth­ers, he says him­self. “When you write about sports,” Glad­well tells Burke­man, “you’re allowed to engage in mis­chief! Noth­ing is at stake. It’s a bicy­cle race!” This in itself is a high­ly con­trar­i­an claim for fans, ath­letes, and their vest­ed spon­sors.

But the mis­chief in hyper-com­pet­i­tive, high dol­lar pres­sure of pro­fes­sion­al cycling is far removed from the cheat­ing, brib­ing, and fraud scan­dals in U.S. col­lege admis­sions, it may seem. The stakes are so much high­er, after all. Glad­well offers his take on the sit­u­a­tion in the audio inter­view above on the Tim Fer­riss show. (He starts this dis­cus­sion around the 57:25 mark.)

It’s true, he says, there is a games­man­ship that dri­ves the col­lege admis­sions process. But here is a case where win­ning isn’t worth the cost. He does­n’t say this is because the game is rigged, but because it’s ori­ent­ed in the wrong direc­tion. Stu­dents should be taught to find “inter­est­ing­ness” by inter­act­ing with “flawed” and “inter­est­ing peo­ple.”

Instead “we ter­ri­fy high school stu­dents about their col­lege choic­es,” mak­ing achieve­ment and pres­tige the high­est aims.

To my mind, you could not have con­ceived of a worse sys­tem. So any advice that has to do with you need to work hard and get into  I’m sor­ry, it’s just bull­shit. It’s just ter­ri­ble. You should not try to go to the best col­lege you can, par­tic­u­lar­ly if best is defined by US News and World Report. The sole test of what a good col­lege is is it a place where I find myself late at night hav­ing deeply inter­est­ing con­ver­sa­tions with peo­ple that I like and find inter­est­ing? You go where you can do that. That’s all that mat­ters.

With his ten­den­cy to speak in an orac­u­lar “we,” Glad­well defines anoth­er prob­lem: an elit­ist dis­dain for the “inter­est­ing” peo­ple.

There are inter­est­ing kids every­where. And it’s only in our snob­bery that we have decid­ed that inter­est­ing­ness is defined by your test scores. This is just such an out­ra­geous lie.

Test scores, sure they mat­ter in some way, but I’m talk­ing about col­lege now. What makes for a pow­er­ful col­lege expe­ri­ence is can I find some­one inter­est­ing to have an inter­est­ing dis­cus­sion with? And you can do that if you’re curi­ous and you’re inter­est­ing. That’s it. Not that you’re inter­est­ing, you’re inter­est­ed. That’s all that mat­ters.

There are, of course, still those who seek out places and peo­ple of inter­est over the high­est-ranked schools, which are inac­ces­si­ble to a major­i­ty of stu­dents in any case. Glad­well may tend to gen­er­al­ize from his own expe­ri­ence, although col­lege, he has said, “was not a par­tic­u­lar­ly fruit­ful time for me.” (Maybe ask your doc­tor before you take his advice about break­fast at the very begin­ning of the show.)

Dif­fer­ent stu­dents have dif­fer­ent expe­ri­ences and expec­ta­tions of col­lege, but over­all pres­sures are high, tuitions are ris­ing, pol­i­tics are inflamed, and stu­dent debt becomes more bur­den­some by the year.… Glad­well might have used anoth­er metaphor, but he’ll like­ly find wide agree­ment that in some sense or anoth­er, at least fig­u­ra­tive­ly, “the Amer­i­can col­lege sys­tem needs to be blown up and they need to start over.” Now that is a sub­ject on which near­ly every­one might have an opin­ion.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Mal­colm Glad­well Explains Where His Ideas Come From

The Cod­dling of the Amer­i­can Mind: Mal­colm Glad­well Leads a Con­ver­sa­tion with Jonathan Haidt, Greg Lukianoff & Lenore Ske­nazy

Mal­colm Glad­well Admits His Insa­tiable Love for Thriller Nov­els and Rec­om­mends His Favorites

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

The Zen of Bill Murray: I Want to Be “Really Here, Really in It, Really Alive in the Moment”

We all know, on the deep­est lev­el, what we have the poten­tial to achieve; once in a great while, we even catch glimpses of just what we could do if only we put our minds to it. But what, if any­thing, does it mean to “put our minds to it”? In break­ing down that cliché, we might look to the exam­ple of Bill Mur­ray, an actor for whom break­ing down clichés has become a method of not just work­ing but liv­ing. In the 2015 Char­lie Rose clip above, Mur­ray tells of receiv­ing a late-night phone call from a friend’s drunk­en sis­ter. “You have no idea how much you could do, Bill, if you could just — you can do so much,” the woman kept insist­ing. But to the still more or less asleep Mur­ray, her voice sound­ed like that of “a vision­ary speak­ing to you in the night and com­ing to you in your dream.”

Through her ine­bri­a­tion, this woman spoke direct­ly to a per­sis­tent desire of Mur­ray’s, one he describes when Rose asks him “what it is that you want that you don’t have.” Mur­ray replies that he’d “like to be more con­sis­tent­ly here,” that he’d like to “see how long I can last as being real­ly here — you know, real­ly in it, real­ly alive in the moment.” He’d like to see what he could do if he could stay off human auto-pilot, if he “were able to not get dis­tract­ed, to not change chan­nels in my mind and body, so I would just, you know, be my own chan­nel.” He grounds this poten­tial­ly spir­i­tu­al-sound­ing idea in phys­i­cal terms: “It is all con­tained in your body, every­thing you’ve got: your mind, your spir­it, your soul, your emo­tions, it is all con­tained in your body. All the prospects, all the chances you ever have.”

Mur­ray had spo­ken in even more detail of the body’s impor­tance at the pre­vi­ous year’s Toron­to Inter­na­tion­al Film Fes­ti­val. “How much do you weigh?” he asked his audi­ence there, lead­ing them into an impromp­tu guid­ed med­i­ta­tion. “Try to feel that weight in your seat right now, in your bot­tom right now.” If you can “feel that weight in your body, if you can come back into the most per­son­al iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, a very per­son­al iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, which is: I am. This is me now. Here I am, right now. This is me now.” The idea is to be here now, to bor­row the words with which coun­ter­cul­tur­al icon Ram Dass titled his most pop­u­lar book. But Mur­ray approached it by read­ing some­thing quite dif­fer­ent: the writ­ings of Gre­co-Armen­ian Sufi mys­tic George Ivanovich Gur­d­ji­eff, whose con­tri­bu­tion to Mur­ray’s comedic per­sona we’ve pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured here on Open Cul­ture.

Gur­d­ji­eff believed that most of us live out our lives in a hyp­no­sis-like state of “wak­ing sleep,” nev­er touch­ing the state of high­er con­scious­ness that might allow us to more clear­ly per­ceive real­i­ty and more ful­ly real­ize our poten­tial. In recent years, Mur­ray has tak­en on some­thing like this role him­self, hav­ing “long bypassed mere celebri­ty sta­tus to become some­thing close to a spir­i­tu­al sym­bol, a guru of zen, and his fre­quent appear­ances among the mass­es (in a karaoke bar! In a couple’s engage­ment pho­to!) are report­ed on the inter­net with the excite­ment of sight­ings of the mes­si­ah.” So writes the Guardian’s Hadley Free­man in a Mur­ray pro­file from 2019, which quotes the actor-come­di­an-trick­ster-Ghost­buster-bod­hisatt­va return­ing to his wish to attain an ever-greater state of pres­ence. “If there’s life hap­pen­ing and you run from it, you’re not doing the world a favor,” he says. “You have to engage.” And if you do, you may dis­cov­er pos­si­bil­i­ties you’d nev­er even sus­pect­ed before.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Phi­los­o­phy of Bill Mur­ray: The Intel­lec­tu­al Foun­da­tions of His Comedic Per­sona

Lis­ten to Bill Mur­ray Lead a Guid­ed Medi­a­tion on How It Feels to Be Bill Mur­ray

An Ani­mat­ed Bill Mur­ray on the Advan­tages & Dis­ad­van­tages of Fame

Nine Tips from Bill Mur­ray & Cel­list Jan Vogler on How to Study Intense­ly and Opti­mize Your Learn­ing

What Is High­er Con­scious­ness?: How We Can Tran­scend Our Pet­ty, Day-to-Day Desires and Gain a Deep­er Wis­dom

97-Year-Old Philoso­pher Pon­ders the Mean­ing of Life: “What Is the Point of It All?”

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

The Phenomena of Physics Illustrated with Psychedelic Art in an Influential 19th-Century Textbook

The sci­ence of optics and the fine art of sci­ence illus­tra­tion arose togeth­er in Europe, from the ear­ly black-and-white col­or wheel drawn by Isaac New­ton in 1704 to the bril­liant­ly hand-col­ored charts and dia­grams of Goethe in 1810. Goethe’s illus­tra­tions are more renowned than Newton’s, but both inspired a con­sid­er­able num­ber of sci­en­tif­ic artists in the 19th cen­tu­ry. It would take a sci­ence writer, the French jour­nal­ist and math­e­mati­cian Amédée Guillemin, to ful­ly grasp the poten­tial of illus­tra­tion as a means of con­vey­ing the mind-bend­ing prop­er­ties of light and col­or to the gen­er­al pub­lic.

Guillemin pub­lished the huge­ly pop­u­lar text­book Les phénomènes de la physique in 1868, even­tu­al­ly expand­ing it into a five-vol­ume physics ency­clo­pe­dia. (View and down­load a scanned copy at the Well­come Col­lec­tion.) He real­ized that in order to make abstract the­o­ries “com­pre­hen­si­ble” to lay read­ers, Maria Popo­va writes at Brain Pick­ings, “he had to make their ele­gant abstract math­e­mat­ics tan­gi­ble and cap­ti­vat­ing for the eye. He had to make physics beau­ti­ful.” Guillemin com­mis­sioned artists to make 31 col­ored lith­o­graphs, 80 black-and-white plates, and 2,012 illus­trat­ed dia­grams of the phys­i­cal phe­nom­e­na he described.

The most “psy­che­del­ic-look­ing illus­tra­tions,” notes the Pub­lic Domain Review, are by Parisian intaglio print­er and engraver René Hen­ri Digeon and “based on images made by the physi­cist J. Sil­ber­mann show­ing how light waves look when they pass through var­i­ous objects, rang­ing from a bird’s feath­er to crys­tals mount­ed and turned in tour­ma­line tongs.”

Digeon also illus­trat­ed the “spec­tra of var­i­ous light sources, solar, stel­lar, metal­lic, gaseous, elec­tric,” above, and cre­at­ed a col­or wheel, fur­ther down, based on a clas­si­fi­ca­tion sys­tem of French chemist Michel Eugène Chevreul.

Many of Digeon’s images “were used to explain the phe­nom­e­non of bire­frin­gence, or dou­ble refrac­tion,” the Pub­lic Domain Review writes (hence the dou­ble rain­bow). In addi­tion to his strik­ing plates, this sec­tion of the book also includes the image of the soap bub­ble above, by artist M. Rap­ine, based on a paint­ing by Alexan­dre-Blaise Des­goffe.

[The artists’] sub­jects were not cho­sen hap­haz­ard­ly. New­ton was famous­ly inter­est­ed in the iri­des­cence of soap bub­bles. His obser­va­tions of their refrac­tive capac­i­ties helped him devel­op the undu­la­to­ry the­o­ry of light. But he was no stranger to feath­ers either. In the Opticks (1704), he not­ed with won­der that, “by look­ing on the Sun through a Feath­er or black Rib­band held close to the Eye, sev­er­al Rain-bows will appear.”

In turn, Guillemin’s lav­ish­ly illus­trat­ed ency­clo­pe­dia con­tin­ues to influ­ence sci­en­tif­ic illus­tra­tions of light and col­or spec­tra. “In order thus to place itself in com­mu­nion with Nature,” he wrote, “our intel­li­gence draws from two springs, both bright and pure, and equal­ly fruitful—Art and Sci­ence.” See more art from the book at Brain Pick­ings and the Pub­lic Domain Review.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Vibrant Col­or Wheels Designed by Goethe, New­ton & Oth­er The­o­rists of Col­or (1665–1810)

Goethe’s Col­or­ful & Abstract Illus­tra­tions for His 1810 Trea­tise, The­o­ry of Col­ors: Scans of the First Edi­tion

A 900-Page Pre-Pan­tone Guide to Col­or from 1692: A Com­plete Dig­i­tal Scan

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

Ronan Farrow’s Catch and Kill Podcast: Stream a Gripping ‘Audio Companion’ to His Bestselling Book

In late 2017, Ronan Far­row was on the verge of blow­ing open the sto­ry reveal­ing the Har­vey Wein­stein sex­u­al abuse alle­ga­tions. But then exec­u­tives at NBC News killed the sto­ry, Far­row claims. Bewil­dered, he took his report­ing to the New York­er, which then vet­ted and pub­lished his report­ing. Fast for­ward two years, Far­row has won a Pulitzer and Har­vey Wein­stein is now using a walk­er and get­ting ready to go on tri­al.

In his 2019 best­selling book, Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Con­spir­a­cy to Pro­tect Preda­tors, Far­row delves into “the sys­tems that pro­tect pow­er­ful men accused of ter­ri­ble crimes in Hol­ly­wood, Wash­ing­ton, and beyond.” That sys­tem includes media exec­u­tives, tabloids, high-priced lawyers, under­cov­er oper­a­tives, pri­vate intel­li­gence agen­cies, and even, it appears, offi­cials with­in our own legal sys­tem. A com­ple­ment to his book, Far­row has now pro­duced The Catch and Kill pod­cast, whose first episodes you can now stream online. Find it on Apple, Spo­ti­fy, Stitch­er, and oth­er plat­forms. You can stream the first three episodes below.

Episode 1: The Spy

Episode 2: The Pro­duc­er

Episode 3: The Wire

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.