"My subject is a barren one – the world of nature, or in other words life; and that subject in its least elevated department, and employing either rustic terms or foreign, nay barbarian words that actually have to be introduced with an apology. Moreover, the path is not a beaten highway of authorship, nor one in which the mind is eager to range: there is not one of us who has made the same venture, nor yet one Roman who has tackled single-handed all departments of the subject."Naturalis Historia was written by Pliny the Elder between 77 and 79 CE and was meant to serve as a kind of proto-encyclopedia discussing all of the ancient knowledge available to him, covered in enough depth and breadth to make it by a reasonable margin the largest work to survive to the modern day from the Roman era. The work includes discussions on astronomy, meteorology, geography, mineralogy, zoology and botany organized along Aristotelian divisions of nature but also includes essays on human inventions and institutions. It is dedicated to the Emperor Titus in its epistle to the Emperor Vespasian, a close friend of Pliny who relied on his extensive knowledge, and its unusually careful citations of sources as well as its index makes it a precursor to modern scholarly works. It was Pliny's last work, as well as sadly his sole surviving one, and was published not long before his death attempting to save a friend from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum, famously recounted by Pliny's eponymous nephew Pliny the Younger.
Here is a reasonable translation that is freely available to download from archive.org for your edification.[more inside]
Shinchi Maruyama creates "sculptures" by throwing handfuls of liquid into the air and photographing them. [more inside]
In the early 1980s, Roni Horn travelled to Iceland and lived alone for a few months in the (supposedly haunted) lighthouse at Dyrhólaey. While there, she made rocky, earthy drawings. They formed the first volume of a currently incomplete, abstract encyclopedia of the country [flash navigation] which has now progressed to include beautiful photographs of hot pools, glaciers, lava and rivers. A river's surface has appeared in different guises within a university. She has even made a library of water in a little Icelandic town. However, those currently in or near London can visit an exhibition in Tate Modern. [more inside]
42 Works of Modern Earth and Land Art. 42 Works of Water, Snow and Ice Art. 30 Works of Air, Sky and Wind Art. 42 Works of Fire Art and Design.
The Hidden Messages in Water? Masaru Emoto claims that water has the ability "to absorb, hold, and even retransmit human feelings and emotions. Using high-speed photography, he found that crystals formed in frozen water reveal changes when specific, concentrated thoughts are directed toward it. Music, visual images, words written on paper, and photographs also have an impact on the crystal structure." The theory may be suspect, but the photos are beautiful.
Ned Kahn does really great things with fire, fog, sand, water and wind. Sadly, some don't last. Heard on WNYC's Studio 360
Aqueduct Magazine has a feature highlighting the finest examples of public artworks that celebrate water. These range from grand to kind of freaky and they even offer a screensaver tribute to same.