PRS is pleased to announce ILLUMINED, a brand new exhibition by Los Angeles-based artist and photographer David Orr, whose images are made from and inspired by our library's storied collection of rare texts and manuscripts.
For the ILLUMINED series David photographed spiritual, mystical, and philosophical texts—often one-of-a-kind, hand-printed and illuminated manuscripts—from our library’s private collection. After photographing a text, he recombines it, creating an abstracted, circular form that alludes to the worldview or mythology being represented. Each image becomes a balanced form, similar to a mandala, an idealized object of contemplation. The images are dye-infused into highly reflective aluminum discs, creating works of art that are as much objects as photographs.
“Worlds visible and invisible to us have been depicted in strikingly similar visuals over time,” says David, “the recurring form is always circular. Most often, these depictions possess a radial symmetry with repeated shapes emerging from a central point. You can see this arrangement in church and mosque ceilings meaning to represent the impossible order of the heavens; representations of the universe throughout time (the word cosmos itself means ‘order’); and in graphic depictions of particle motion, music, and sound—even the graphic symbol for chaos has order!”
Orr chose each text with an eye towards representing a range of disparate beliefs, from the sacred to the secular. The series includes recombinations of rare Alchemical and Theosophical manuscripts, hand-transcribed Buddhist Sūtras, and a first edition of Francis Bacon’s scientific work. “So many ideas and systems describe how the world works, and much of it can be thought of as a projection of our ideas onto the world,” Orr adds. “There are remarkable examples of ancient ideas proven correct by contemporary scientific study; Quantum Physics and Eastern thought, for example. These images mean to honor the ways in which we struggle to make sense of the world. Each image serves as a symbol and beacon of an ideal—sparks of thought in the dark.”
ILLUMINED will be on display from March 24th through September 16th. Visitors can check gallery hours by calling (323) 663–2167.
The artist donated The Private Instructions of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky which is on display in the PRS Bookstore.