Furnace & Fugue is a multi-disciplinary collaboration directed by me (Donna Bilak, Independent Scholar) and Tara Nummedal (Brown University). This project involves scholars and performers in re-imagining a multimedia alchemical emblem book printed 400 years ago, Atalanta fugiens by Michael Maier. This team emerged over the past few years, originating from my 2013-14 fellowship at the Chemical Heritage Foundation.
Our project brings together experts from music, mathematics, and the histories of science and the book. Together, our research forms the content for Furnace and Fugue: A Digital Edition of Michael Maier’s Atalanta fugiens (1618) with Scholarly Commentary, a volume of new scholarship co-edited by Tara and I. This features new musical recordings and a groundbreaking discovery about Maier’s compositions by Loren Ludwig (Director, LeStrange Viols).
Furnace & Fugue is supported by Brown Library’s Mellon-funded Digital Publishing Initiative. Its mandate is to extend Brown’s mission in supporting projects that engage with emerging forms of digital publication as well as new systems of peer review and scholarly validation, including tenure evaluation.
Making this digital edition involves many people and moving parts.
This project renders my research into dynamic form — that Atalanta fugiens is Maier’s audio-visual representation of actual laboratory technology and processes, and conceals a mathematical puzzle that is revealed to the reader upon detecting clues embedded in its music, images, and text, transforming its reading experience into an interactive game…
… stay tuned