The Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka in recent years made available online thousands of inscriptions from this important Indian Ocean island. Inscriptions, some of many lines, others consisting only of a few words, can be found all over the island, in caves and at archaeological sites. They are frequently associated with monastic spaces, such as caves hollowed out and donated to monasteries for monks to live in. They might also, however, record decrees of the kings of ancient Lanka or donations of movable goods to monastic institutions.
This post is the second half of meditations begun last week (Meditations on Tafel #61-64: Part I) on Tafel 61-64 of the Mnemosyne Atlas and offers thoughts about some of the specific sequences of images presented by Aby Warburg.
This post offers a background to some of the tensions which can be unpicked in Tafel #61-64, which will then be examined through the lens of individual sequences in the post ‘Meditations on Tafel #61-64: Part II’.
In his much-debated, “intellectual biography” of Aby Warburg, E. H. Gombrich discerns the “twin processes” structuring the Mnemosyne-Atlas: “The restoration of the Olympian gods and that of the restoration of expressive movement.” His analysis, though, is also occasion for this critique:
This text describes a photomontage by Leonardo Bezzola of Palladio´s Villa Badoer and a Rolls Royce Silver Ghost. It identifies parts of its intellectual background, namely Warburg´s Bilderfahrzeuge-metaphor and Panofsky´s article about the ideological antecedents of the Rolls-Royce-radiator. Differences in the approaches are discussed between Panofsky´s text and Leonardo´s montage. The montage is finally considered as a possible thought model for image vehicles and some of the principles of the migration of images through time and space.
Eine Fotomontage von Leonardo Bezzola von 1983 zeigt den Kühlergrill eines Rolls Royce Silver Ghost von 1906 an der Stelle des Portals der Villa Badoer von Palladio von 1556 bis 1563 (Abb. 1). Der Hemdsärmligkeit dieser bildlichen Verquickung steht eine prägnante Doppeldeutigkeit gegenüber, die einen stil- und motivgeschichtlichen Zusammenhang zwischen einem antiken Tempel und dem modernen Fahrzeug herstellt.
The painting of the Saints Christopher, Jerome and Louis of Toulouse in the church of San Giovanni Grisotomo, Venice, is one of the late works of Giovanni Bellini (1437-1516). It encapsulates several of the problems that are on the ‘Bilderfahrzeuge’ group’s mind.
Nueva corónica y buen gobierno (1615) by Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala is a unique example of how words and images may wander across and beyond traditional geographical, cultural, and disciplinary boundaries. His indigenous origins and ties to and knowledge of mitmaq and Inca cultures, together with his education and experience in Spanish colonial Peru enabled Guaman Poma to produce this unique document/monument. The ways in which his visual and verbal rhetorics are informed by Inca mythology and history, Christian homiletics, and a fusion of European and native styles make this text exemplary for the Bilderfahrzeuge project. Whether depicting himself journeying to deliver his manuscript to the King, reimagining the Garden of Eden, or representing an Inca mappamundi, Guaman Poma traces the kind of Wanderstraßen that can and should motivate the future of iconology.