Through a Glass, Darkly

Aesthetics, Art History, metaphors and concepts…

“…for now we see through a glass, darkly.” A metaphor for immaculate conception, it is a symbolic reference incorporated in many Renaissance paintings. The representational illusion of diffracted light passing through a glass vessel was intended to represent the miraculous Divine insemination or gift of life to Mary, perhaps also being an extended metaphor for the gift of life itself.

This is of course a matter of Art History, not necessarily aligned with any requirement for a belief in the existence of Angelic Annunciation or Miraculous Intervention; an acknowledgement of the artistic, historical and material fact does not align itself with any need for faith or spiritual commitment – it is a technique in an artist’s repertoire for achieving a desired representational effect and illusion. I found this spectacularly beautiful capture (the image above) of fluid dynamics, of random chance and the symmetries of force and energy passing through one another, as being reminiscent of this artistic trick-of-the-light. An artistic grasping and arguable attainment of its object, of beautiful transience.

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