I had the amazing opportunity this month with Hohe Luft Magazin a philosophy magazine based in Germany who commissioned this piece for their article on Nikolaus Von Kues.
Von Kues was a philosopher, astronomer, theologian and inventor who lived between 1401 to 1464, which posed a problem for my Spectator Jonze project – I couldn’t interview him. I wouldn’t be able to get into his head. So I spent hours reading articles, journals and his writings to learn his thoughts, his conflicts, his contributions and his theories. I really enjoyed trying to understand his inner workings and put together the many aspects of his life into one portrait.
Although they were separate studies in his life, I ended up anchoring his portrait on simplifying his contradictions and commitments between religion (Peace of Faith), humanity (Learned Ignorance) and then astronomy (Infinity of the Universe). And to add an extra thing into the pile, he was also the inventor of the concave lens, so I threw a fancy pair of spectacles on him.
The main thing I derived from Cusa’s writings is that we have to learn to live with an absence of certainty, as it is this very absence of certainty which is the source of our creativity. It fuels the desire to attain knowledge and gives room for freedom. And it is this very notion of his, that allowed me to explore with his portrait and my creativity, for I was unable to personally speak with him in an interview to be certain of his thoughts and I had to sift through different Renaissance paintings and sculptures of him to attain the knowledge of his facial features. But look, he’s a smart man because, I did get creative and I had a lot of freedom.