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Exhibition Update: ‘The Geometry of War’

Spring, 1996

The exhibition announced in Issue 2 of Sphæra has taken on a greater importance in the Museum’s programme than was originally envisaged. As well as more general improvements, new lighting has been installed in the large showcases of the temporary exhibition space with the aid of a grant from the Fédération Internationale des Géomètres.

The display itself aims to be provocative. Instead of the usual neutral display platforms, the instruments, fine and delicate as they often are, are presented on a structure of concrete blocks and rusting iron mesh, in an attempt to reflect the incongruity of their elegance and the brutality of the circumstances in which they were supposed to be used.

A fully-illustrated catalogue is currently in production and a virtual version of the exhibition, soon to be mounted on the Museum’s Internet site, will be made available to visitors via a computer in the gallery. The illustration chosen for the exhibition poster is from Leonhard Zubler’s Nova geometrica pyrobolia: Neuwe geometrische Büchsenmeisterery (Zurich?, 1614). Zubler’s book introduces a new ‘geometrical gunnery instrument’ and is one of three works by him in the exhibition. All three texts are enhanced by fine copper-plate engravings, but none with such dramatic effect as in the book on gunnery, with the night scenes particularly striking in their use of light. In the illustration, a blazing fortress throws the foreground into silhouette, save for the focus of attention – the instrument and the gunner using it – illuminated by light from a lamp.

To match the expanded scale of the exhibition and its catalogue, the Geometry of War will now remain open until the 30th November, 1996.