DIA-LOGOS presents a radical challenge to the still common perception of the Middle Ages as a “dark” epoch. Ramon Llull (c. 1232–1316) is revealed as an enlightened thinker who is extremely relevant—and topical—for today’s world. The Catalan philosopher and theologian, who was born in Majorca, not only invented a new method in terms of theory and language to gain knowledge and a construction of the world, like an engineer he also translated the method into an apparatus.
His device consisted of several connected paper disks with concepts inscribed on them. By rotating the disks, the linguistic symbols displayed could be connected, correlated, and combined. He had invented so to speak, avant la lettre, a kind of logical machine (a paper computer), which could physically affect the combinations of terms.
The aspiration of the method invented by Llull was universal, and it introduced a new kind of learning. It postulated the unity of the various contemporary disciplines of knowledge, and envisaged that through deduction, argumentation, and dialogue there would be peace among the three monotheistic religions.
His main work “Ars generalis ultima, and/or Ars brevis”, was published in 1308, first in Latin, and later translated into Hebrew (1476) and Arabic (1682). Long before Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Ramon Llull strived to put reason in the service of religion, and not religion in the service of irrationality.
Llull is one of the greatest founders and most enlightened minds of European culture, which is dedicated to the trinity of humanism, Renaissance, and Enlightenment. His universal concepts and intercultural ideas can be found to this day in literature, the visual arts, music, and philosophy, as well as in information theory and media technology.
This enormous influence of Llull’s radical concept is the main focus of the exhibition, which presents numerous treasures from and about Llull from regions all over the globe. By merging historic and documentary materials with contemporary artworks that engage with Llull’s work, the exhibition enables insights into surprising and thus far unknown facets of Llull’s way of thinking and his work.
The exhibition is a collaboration between ZKM, Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design (HfG), Centre de Cultura Contemporània Barcelona (CCCB), ArtLab, École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne, and is curated by Amador Vega, Peter Weibel, Siegfried Zielinski.