Wunderkammer Symposium

Today I attended the symposium Prudence, Techne, and the Practice of Good Governance in the Early Modern Kunstkammer at the Bard Graduate Center. The more theoretical talks by Mark Meadow and Vera Keller in the morning were eye-opening in terms of showing how the collecting and interactivity with collection objects could help in attaining a sense of “prudence”–here defined as a way of adapting to and being able to make decisions according to changing circumstances. Techne is more an idea of skill in terms of making.

The speakers dealt not only with the philosophies meant to motivate princely collecting (and to be taken from it), but also with some fascinating objects, from bells made from seven different metals (each a formative element of Renaissance alchemy) inscribed with text from various different languages to drawn/painted images of abundance and fortune, to cabinets themselves, lusciously decorated with precious substances and depicting both clear narratives and confusing non-narratives which revel in the idea of variety itself.

 

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