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Poetic Thinking 2016 | August 19, 2019

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Interactive Bosch

Interactive Bosch
Harry Desmond

Thought I’d share this nifty interactive exhibit of Hieronymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights, relevant perhaps both in terms of our discussion of painting and also of the novel artistic possibilities opened up by the internet. Interesting to me is that way it’s able not only to inform the viewer about the painting, but actually add to its poetic meaning by means of music as well as reflections on the individual scenes portrayed. As one reviewer commented, “This is the internet we were promised.”


  1. This is amazing! I had incidentally heard about this from some theater friends recently, because I attended a master class with them over the holidays in which we used the Bosch painting as a jumping-off place from which to start making (“devising”) a theater piece. And as I think about that process, I am once again reminded of Arendt’s banister-less staircase.

    I mention it as well because the painting has seemed to inspire poetic thinking from many angles–this work is one of those reference points that opens up in so many different directions. Which is further interesting in thinking about the poetic as being sometimes connected to an economy of gesture, where this work seems to pretty clearly move in the opposite direction with its fullness.

  2. Andrew McLeod

    Thanks for sharing this, Harry—The Garden of Earthly Delights is definitely a work that begets endless fascination, as Audrey suggests. The website is also quite well done; it would be great if more visual art were given such a treatment. But now I want to know what the fifth stop of the guided tour was supposed to be!

  3. Thanks for sharing, Harry. I love Bosch so much — did anyone else catch the Circle of Bosch picture that was up at Cantor during the Empathy exhibition? While I dig the idea of potentially being able to explore art online, and the possibility of appreciating art on digital media, I sort of feel like all the captioning and explanation provided in this digital experience sort of defeats the point of Bosch: to be strange and wild and incomprehensible. Clarity and the dry historical account seem antithetical to the craziness of Bosch. I think the solution to this kind of thing might be that platforms or writing should try to match the spirit of the media/art that they are mediating.

  4. Harry Desmond

    Glad it amused. I also felt the tendency the exhibit had to “tame” the painting, although I didn’t really feel it to be any less strange or wild for that. In fact in places I felt like the commentary added an extra level of absurdity by its clear failure to make sense of the scene it purportedly described!

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