Aurora C40 is a try to recreate the illustrations of the Aurora Consurgens – an alchemical manuscript from the 15th century. I kept what I think of as the alchemical syntax – the elements and colors that code the alchemists’ secrets. Yet, I changed the style to Art Deco. And I added numbers to the composition.
As work of alchemy the Aurora Consurgens is about finding the gold in the initial chaos, about improving whatever it is you’ve been given in any beginning – think: the Dodo’s Caucus Race – to the best thing possible. It’s your beginning, it’s your race.
Alchemists knew that it was a long, very slow process, one of trial and error in which they were alone, though they did exchange their ideas and finds with their network through mysterious texts and paintings. The illustrations in the Aurora speak of hard work, of learning, struggle, open hostility, ripping yourself open, bleeding, even dying, but also resurrection, love and light. Learning and transformation are a painful and sometimes dark process with obstacles and detours, but they were deemed worth the lifelong work of even the smartest.
Lifelong, as the process of learning never really ends. Learning means to accept that one never will have all the answers and that the answers one finds might not be universally right. Learning means to stay always open to the new, the unexpected, and not to accept randomly set borders. The more you learn the more you understand that all you do is phrasing better questions in a wider space as somehow like time everything is interwoven and entangled and forms new patterns with the same old as soon as you dare to blink
While in the 15th century of the Aurora the people still aimed to understand nature, in the 1920s humankind celebrated the triumph of its technology and science over nature, also in their art. They discovered the We of nations, and even more important the I of psychology, which they wrote with a capital letter just to underline its new importance. They partied as if there wasn’t a tomorrow. The party was like a masquerade on the open grave of a dying man – without limits, without rules, without reason and ultimately lonely. There wasn’t a reason to improve anymore as everyone at least pretended to be king of the universe and its center with everything else circling around.
Today every second counts. We are supposed to be perfect instantly if we want to evade being measured and weighted and found lacking. That would open the door to malice and mock. Pain that leads to learning, but no improvement, just more masks and armor. The numbers are the count down.
40. The original Aurora Consurgens had 38 illustrations. Deborah Harkness described two more in A Discovery of Witches. 40 is a much more magical number. Venus needs 40 years to form a pentagram in the night sky before it returns to its original point with a 40 days regression. 40 years is the time for a new generation to arise. It rained for 40 days during the Flood. Moses spent three times 40 days on Mount Sinai. 40 days is the time between resurrection and ascension of Jesus. According to an Arabic proverb you have to live among a people for 40 days to understand them. 40 days are between Marbon and Samhain…
It was between Marbon and Samhain that I recreated the Aurora Consurgens, to be finished at the day when the veil between the living and the dead, the past and the present is thinnest and I was born.