‘In a time of many isolations’, Debbie Lewer looks at Botticelli’s painting in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
A podcast series from St Mary’s Cathedral, Glasgow and the Iona Community
Art historian Dr Deborah Lewer, Senior Lecturer in History of Art at the University of Glasgow, leads viewers through three different Christian festivals this summer by examining works of art.
From the composer
The chant, Quicumque christum quaeritis, is a setting of a colourful 12th-century poem, the hymn to the Transfiguration, which speaks of primordial chaos, boundless sky, and eternal glory. The music is in four short movements, each a digital ‘transfiguration’ of the plainchant melody and the cyanotype image. The chant is first sung, as if liturgically, but by many voices belonging to just one person—an ancient unison by modern means. The second movement reimagines the chant as a canon, each voice comprising a synthesised waveform with the characteristics of a theremin, accompanied by a human voice that never breathes. The third movement uses colour and brightness information from the cyanotype image to modulate each note of the plainchant, a polyphonic cacophony of voices. The frequencies responsible for the timbre of each note and of the drone beneath are taken from a frequency-space representation of the image obtained by a mathematical transfiguration—the two-dimensional Fourier transform. A fundamental pillar of our understanding of our world and the technology that connects us, the Fourier Transform represents information using a sum of wave-like patterns. The fourth movement is a series of disjoint ‘pixels’ whose waveforms are generated from the wave-pattern within the image, with the red, green and blue components each represented by their own series of pitches.
In this third and final podcast of the series, Dr Deborah Lewer explores a work of the German expressionist sculptor Ernst Barlach, a piece entitled Das Wiedersehen (1926), which depicts an encounter between Thomas and the risen Jesus. Video produced in partnership with the Iona Community. Music: Huit Pièces Brèves, Op. 84, No. 5: Improvisation in C Sharp Minor by Gabriel Fauré (1845–1924); Catriona Mairi Mackenzie, piano.
Podcast script for Reunion
In this second podcast in the series, art historian Dr Deborah Lewer examines ‘Pietà’ by Rogier van der Weyden. Video produced in partnership with the Iona Community. Music: ‘So much wrong’ translated and arranged by John L. Bell, Calum Woods (voice).
Podcast script for Fri Sat (Lamentation)
In this podcast, the first in a series of three entitled ‘Agony, Lamentation and Reunion’, art historian Dr Deborah Lewer examines ‘Agony in the Garden’ by sixteenth-century artist Albrecht Dürer. Video produced in partnership with the Iona Community. Music: ‘Pange lingua gloriosi corporis mysterium’ (medieval hymn), Steven McIntyre (organ).