An international research network for scholars and practitioners interested in cross-cultural exploration of media art and philosophy

Remote Materialization

September 2018 ~ Curator Laura U. Marks

Inaugural exhibition of the Substantial Motion Research Network

In medieval Persia, Europe, and countries in between, many people used talismans to protect themselves and carry out their wises. Talismans were believed to function by interceding to the stars and constellations that governed earthly matters, drawing down these powers through the stones associated with them. Maḥmūd b. Aḥmad Ṭūsī Salmānī’s design for a talisman here (in ‘Ağayib al-maḫlūqāt, Marvels of Creation, (1388), based on an earlier work by Al-Qazwini) shows a man holding a stick and riding a vulture, to be inscribed on a crystal. I think it was intended to drive away snakes: many talismans of this time picturing raptors served that purpose. Al-Tūsī’s talisman manipulates the connections between the stars and the earth to target an enemy. What interests me in medieval talismans, and the unifying theme of this exhibition, is the idea that a material object can summon and (sometimes) manage hidden connections in the universe. These works by members of the Substantial Motion Research Network all, in different ways, draw together invisible powers and reorganize them into functioning objects.

Laura U. Marks

News & Events

Wonderful SMRN Meeting of July 2019

August 6, 2019

SMRN had another wonderful meeting on July 30, two of our recently joined members Juan Castrillón and Millie Chen presented their works in progress.