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SOL SALUTIS: the language of numbers

7 – 9 December 2021 | 16.30 – 19.30
Opening – December 7, 17.00 

What can numbers tell us? Is today’s rational belief in mathematical systems and emotionless calculation the only way to describe the world?

It seems that Pythagorean attempts to maintain a balance between mathematics’ practical and symbolic meanings are now taking shape in today’s technolog­ical society. One example would be the structures of global financial markets: what keeps this mathematical structure together appears to be an extra-rational ele­ment. Whether it is functional may be determined by either blind trust in the power of algorithms, or mass loss of confidence among investors — a “crisis of faith” resulting in a stock market collapse.

The History of the Future by the Polish roman­tic poet Adam Mickiewicz (1798–1855) contains such a combination of metaphysics and mathematics. The manuscripts of subsequent versions of the book have been lost or destroyed, but some parts are preserved in the poet’s notes and correspondence. The writer’s vision includes plausible descriptions of future devel­opments, surpassing the much later work of Jules Verne and H. G. Wells. Mickiewicz’s vision includes plausible descriptions of future technical inventions, such as aer­oplanes, spaceships, or devices for recording and trans­mitting sound and images. Among his designs there were also optical fibres, which were the inspiration for Jakub Woynarowski’s multimedia installation Sol Salut­is (Latin: The Sun of Salvation), based on Archimedean mirrors that were supposed to reflect the “fiery signs” of solar writing.

The idea of transmitting “fiery signs” by means of a system of mirrors prompts a reflection on the form of future languages. In his book Mickiewicz hermetyczny (Woynarowski’s reference point during the creation of the installation), Zdzisław Kępiński noted that in his work, Mickiewicz also replaced names with numbers.

Sol Salutis’ narrative is based on a gradual decoding of meanings hidden in text-number combinations slowly revealed to the viewers. It is a metaphorical “receiving apparatus” that would make it possible to read messag­es from the future. The launch in December coincides with Mickiewicz’s birthday and winter solstice, celebrat­ed in antiquity as Sol Invictus (Latin: The Invincible Sun). The choice of location is also of particular importance: the project is presented in five European cities related to Adam Mickiewicz’s life: Paris, Vilnius, Rome, Istan­bul, and Kraków.

The project was created in cooperation with the Adam Mickiewicz Institute and the Polish Institute in Vilni­us as part of the Polish Romanticism section of AMI’s programme.

Jakub Woynarowski – an interdisciplinary artist, designer, and curator; graduate and lecturer at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków. Author of the artistic concept of the exhibition at the Polish Pavilion during the 14th International Architecture Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia.

Author – Jakub Woynarowski
Music – Przemysław Scheller
Organizer – Adam Mickiewicz Institute
Co-organizer – Polish Institute in Vilnius
Partner – Vilnius Town Hall
Co-financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage

Jakub Woynarowski