I haven't posted in a while, because I've been painting a lot and writing my dissertation; not to mention taking care of the two little rascals during the day, while my wife is heroically changing catheters and bandaging wounds. So I thought I'd post a little about my dissertation research.
The title of my dissertation is Geometry of the Sun: Guarino Guarini and the Church of San Lorenzo. It's about the baroque architect Guarino Guarini, and how this church he designed in Turin, called San Lorenzo, is connected to three principles in his theory of architecture: the art of building (edifizio), horology and gnomonics (orologia, gnomonica), and mechanics (macchinaria).
The reason that these principles are significant to Guarini in particular, is because he was also a mathematician, an astronomer, a philosopher and a theologian. The first principle, of course, is architectural; the second two principles, pertain to astronomy, and particularly the sun. Horology is the measurement of time according to the movement of the sun, and gnomonics is the study of making sundials. Mechanics is mathematical, in a way that connects the architectural forms of the building to the mechanics, or the physics, of the solar system.
So, my dissertation is built upon these three principles, that Guarini presents in his treatise on architecture, the Architettura Civile, and how these principles connect this church to a cosmology; to the universe around it in terms of its meaning and its design.
The dome of San Lorenzo is a complex interlacing of catenary curves, with large windows, and smaller fenestrations within the spaces between the catenaries. But when you look up at the dome, it also may seem similar to some designs that you've seen in Islamic mosque architecture. The catenaries above the smaller dome above the altar space, is also in the shape of the Star of David. Whether or not Guarini was intending to connect what are considered the "three great religions of the west" is not known for sure. But many of the advancements in early astronomy came about through Arabia as well, because of astronomers such as al-Kindi, al-Haytham, and al-Farabi.
In my research, I am interested in whether or not the connection of Guarini's dome to the celestial sphere is cosmographic (meaning that it literally connects to the orientation of the zenith and the passage of the sun, thus really creating a kind of sundial), or if the meaning of San Lorenzo is more symbolic, theological, and cosmological.
The human desire to orient ourselves within the universe is made manifest in some of the most ancient structures of the world, including the Pyramids of Giza, Stonehenge, the Roman Pantheon, and the Hogan of the Diné. By orienting ourselves, by finding out where we exist in the universe, we find out more about who we are.