by Dan Cohen
Yes, people are re-enacting and re-creating artworks in their homes during the quarantine. No, this is not a new pastime—people have been doing this for years—and while it’s fine for a while, there are more creative ways to reuse art.
The Rijksmuseum—which may have started the art re-enactment craze some years ago—has been especially inventive on this front. Forget duplicating paintings for Instagram—they encourage people to rethink and remix their artworks across multiple media. (And as I noted in HI19, the Rijksmuseum also digitized their artworks relatively early, thus allowing for this kind of wide experimentation.)
Remote education from two millennia ago, in Egypt:
This is a wood and wax tablet (the iPad of the 2nd century CE) on which the teacher has written exercises that the student, at home, has to complete.
The maxim across the top, in Greek, that the student must copy:
Accept advice from someone wise
It is not right to believe every friend of yours
(British Library, Add MS 34186, School Exercises with Menander’s Sententiae, Multiplication Table and List of Words.)
Sign of the times: chilly, slightly melancholy, Kubrick-style photos, videos, and VR of the libraries that currently stand empty.
The University of Cambridge (video):
Depressing to think about when these spaces will see humans again. On the other hand, the library endures; just a temporary phase-change to a more ethereal state.
It is unclear when we will reopen the libraries and the universities, but we do know when the universities were opened in the first place, and when they started teaching certain subjects. Elena Romero-Passerin, a history PhD student at the University of St. Andrews, just created a card game, Studium Scientiae, in which you can hire faculty and technicians, establish labs and buy equipment, and recreate the first stirrings of modern science from scratch.
Very clever, and another good use of digitized museum collections.
(See also: Merplantalism, the only known board game about botany, trade, and navigation in the eighteenth century, by Romero-Passerin and Christin Simons.)