Science and the Artist's Book
An exhibition by the Smithsonian Institution Libraries and
the Washington Project for the Arts
Herald of Science
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Le diverse et artificiose machine del Capitano Agostino
Ramelli [The various and ingenious machines of Captain
Ramelli, a military engineer of the Italian Renaissance, wrote
this picture book of marvelous and mostly imaginary machines for
the French royal court. His intricate and rather whimsical
creations present complex mechanical solutions for commonplace
problems. Shown here is his plan for a revolving table, built
like a ferris wheel, to enable busy scholars and persons with
impaired mobility (Ramelli specified persons with gout) to
consult several books easily in one place.
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Larry B. Thomas
No Tears for Ramelli
Atlanta, Georgia, 1994
[photocopies, rubber stamping, paper]
No Tears for Ramelli invites you to invent your own
story. Larry B. Thomas delights in creating books that amuse and
disturb his viewers through a sense of irony. The various
machines pictured in Agostino Ramelli's 16th-century book offer
Thomas plenty of visual material for constructing his own
Herald of Science
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Della trasportatione dell' obelisco vaticano [On the
transportation of the Vatican obelisk]
In 1586, Pope Sixtus V asked the Italian architect and
engineer Domenico Fontana to move an Egyptian stone obelisk,
standing over 25 meters (83 feet) tall and weighing 326 metric
tons (360 tons), to St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican from a
site nearly a quarter of a mile away. One of the great
engineering feats of the age, this enterprise required a vast
network of men, horses, ropes, and equipment to lower the obelisk
and move it safely to its new location.
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Moving the Obstinate
Cairo, New York, 1995
[museum board, book cloth, paper, wire, cord]
However laborious it is to move an object as massive as the
Vatican obelisk, Edward Hutchins believes it can be more
difficult to change someone's mind. Fontana moved the obelisk
with ingenious mechanics and hard labor, but to change a person's
mind Hutchins subtly attempts to alter mental mechanisms,
prejudices, and old habits.