illuminated chaconne



ScienceSandra Dean

Is that one of my drawings on the cover of this book?

The answer is no. The image is one of many remarkable photographs of the invisible "vibrational world" made visible, taken by Dr. Hans Jenny, a Swiss medical doctor, natural scientist, artist, musician, and philosopher. His book, Cymatics, (after the Greek "Ta Kymatika", matters pertaining to waves) documents the extraordinary research of this modern day (1904-1972) Renaissance man.

I discovered Cymatics only in the last few years and was awe-struck to see reflections of many of my drawings in Dr. Jenny's photographs of sand, powders and liquids subjected to varying frequencies of sound. As the sound waves increase, the substances begin to assume recognizable, ever-changing patterns of organization. Temporary mandala, fractal, skeletal, dendritic and wave forms emerge that are reminiscent of physical structures in both microscopic and macroscopic worlds. But when the sound frequencies cease, these moving, template-like shapes immediately revert back to their original, non-patterned state.

Hans Jenny's meticulous research into the nature of dynamic formative processes in motion reflects the insights of artist Paul Klee, who was also a musician and a student of the natural sciences. In a lecture to his Bauhaus art students in 1923, Klee explained the basic law of all growth and form mirrored in Jenny's 1960's photographs:

 First life, then the shelter for it. That is the way it happens, even on the miniscule scale.

 In all likelihood, creative power is itself a form of matter, with the same senses as the more familiar kinds of matter. Yet it is through these familiar kinds of matter that it must reveal itself. It must function in union with matter. Permeated with matter, it must take on a living, actual form. It is thence that matter derives its life, acquiring order from the its minutest particles and most subordinate rhythms all the way to its higher articulations.

Let us therefore think not of form, but of the act of forming.

Cymatics: A Study of Wave Phenomena and Vibration
By Hans Jenny M.D., Macromedia Publishers 2001.