/// the starting point for the work:

Torre Prendiparte Via Sant'Aló

/// Plan B for the web :

Geometry shapes up nature

The Prendiparte Tower in Bologna has been through a lot of different stages throughout several decades. For example it functioned as a prison for more than 40 years from1751 to 1796, for heretics who had opposed Christian values. Thanks to a study made through the archives of the Archiepiscopal Curia and by analyzing engravings, writings and drawings on the prison cell walls, it has been possible to reconstruct the lives of some of the prisoners.

One of these prisoners was Garrulo Glandarius, 1726-1793 (G. G.) He was the only son of the highly respected priest Giuseppe Glandarius. His mother died giving birth and so he formed a close relationship to his father. G.G. was a bright child with prospects of becoming a great scientist if his father would have let him. But as a son of a priest it was expected of him to follow his father’s footsteps.

His playroom resembled the laboratory of a natural scientist. With an unusual interest in nature and animals he would collect insects and with great detail describe their characteristics and behaviour. In school his teachers got concerned because he asked questions they couldn’t answer. Questions that not only challenged the scientific consensus at the time but also religious values and precepts, and as we will never know, might have led to remarkable discoveries with the right guidance.

For his father’s part, this conflict caused great concern, and consequently he sent G.G. off to an isolated monastery in the Tuscan Emilian Apennine Mountains. His father, devastated of course, felt he had no other option, as he could not accept to see his own son having doubts about God. Among deeply religious monks G.G. would learn the right path to become a true Christian, his father thought.

G.G. was a fast learner and convinced the monks that he was a true Christian. He won their trust and after some time they didn’t seem to bother with his hours of observing insects and birds as long as he took care of his religious studies. The Apennine Mountains were crawling with animals he had never seen before, and he produced hundreds of pages of drawings and notes on his findings, some of which are still preserved. It is certain that he discovered several new species, for instance the bird we today know as the Jay, named after him (Garrulus Glandarius).

At the age of 22, after 15 years in the mountains, he went back to Bologna to work for his father. After a few years G.G. did his own preaches in the church and they met every expectation his father had.

For some years he managed to pursue his scientific studies in secrecy parallel to his priesthood, but as time went by he became so absorbed in science that his preaching no longer made any sense, for himself as well as the audience. He felt miserable and longed for his time in the mountains.

Growing suspicious his father one day searched his room and found all his notes, and although he did not fully understand these notes and drawings, they clearly represented heretical science and were as such a threat to Christian beliefs. There was no other option than putting him in prison.

This could have been the end for Garrulo Glandarius but on the contrary his studies at this stage proofs even more interesting. Until now his scientific studies had been quite normal except being somewhat ahead of their time. But in prison, under the influence of extreme conditions, he carried on with experiments that would elsewhere be considered insane, or in our time maybe even artistic.

At one point he got two jays to nest in his window sealing. He gave them food and constructed sophisticated sceneries for the birds. With his extensive knowledge on mimicry and camouflage within the world of insects, he wanted to see if the birds had similar abilities. He constructed a scenery consisting only of square objects and hoped they in time would get square by living in the scenery. To speed up evolution he would read aloud every day from geometry books.

The birds bred many times and after third generation changes started to appear, even with the eggs becoming more edged. The 8 eight time the birds appeared completely square.

Garrulo Glandarius remained in prison for the rest of his life and died at the age of 67.

/// the work made on location in Bologna:

/// contact:

Lisbeth Bank

Burmeistersgade 13, 1 th 1429 Copenhagen K Denmark

banklisbeth (at) hotmail.com