We work really hard on our setlist and our act. It’s not a horrible mistake that I’m not singing any songs. I’m the bass player. It’s like everybody has all of a sudden turned into my mother

September 10, 2013 § Leave a comment

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When looking at medieval manuscripts, some easily gravitate to the ornamented and heavily illuminated pages for their spectacular visual quality. There is no question that the most well-known and widely reproduced images from the most famous manuscripts are usually the “pretty” pages. Serious scholarship provides important refinements to our understanding of these visual elements. Others capably focus on the text–sometimes a unique exemplar–that is inscribed on the pages. Where possible, they study the variations between different copies, comparing word for word. Still others are drawn to examine features of the codex or the paleography in all the minute details of composition and structure. These view the manuscript as an artifact capable of revealing much of its own history along with connections to other manuscripts or associated cultural phenomena.

In the course of my own explorations of medieval manuscripts (both hands-on and digitally), I have struggled to find an approach that allows for an overall appreciation of the entire object–to get a sense somehow for the whole thing. Already, the experience of hefting one of these historic volumes offers unique if vague satisfaction to the senses, even before opening it. One becomes aware of the weight, the dimensions, the wear and discoloration of the cover, the smell, and even the sounds it makes when the clasps are opened. The binding groans while the parchment crackles in response to the most careful gestures to leaf through it.

The Manuscript Average
Today, images of many thousands of manuscripts are available through digital repositories to casual and serious viewers. Without the physical presence of the actual volume between our hands, is there a way for us to take in some aspect of it all at once? For instance, what if we took all the pages of a given manuscript and overlaid them as if they were transparent?  read more

PHOTOGRAPH: Yijun Liao

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You are currently reading We work really hard on our setlist and our act. It’s not a horrible mistake that I’m not singing any songs. I’m the bass player. It’s like everybody has all of a sudden turned into my mother at my nerves are bad to-night.

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