Archives for the Month of July, 2016

Form Constants of Optical Mineralogy

form constants of optical mineralogyChromatic Polarisation of Light (German, unknown) [1895]

The Virtual Museum of the History of Mineralogy contains a large collection of scans from monographs on crystallography and mineralogy, arranged by author in alphabetical order, from 1450 to 1912. The chromolithographs of optical interference figures, mostly from the 19th century, record the passage of light through crystal lattices to reveal a corresponding geometric figure. Visualising the interference and chromatic polarisation of light during short mineral detours allowed mineralogists to decrypt the chemical constitution and locate the geological origin of each wafer-thin sample; photons moving at light speed were coaxed into perusing time-spans of billions of years. The proto-op art configuration of the figures echo the morphologies of Kluver’s Form Constants, Purkinje’s taxonomy of visual subjective phenomena and Chladni’s figures (which are, after all, also captive remnants of the properties of wave vibration). These intelligible ornaments deserve a place in collective unconscious for optical and spectral phenomena.

form constants of optical mineralogyPlate from Mineralogia Generale – Luigi Bombicci Porta [1889]

It was David Brewster, ‘the father of modern experimental optics’, who founded the sci­ence of optical mineralogy and first annotated these patterns. Knowing all too well of the allure of the prismatic figures he discovered during his polarisation experiments he invented the Kaleidoscope in 1816. This most famous of all optical toys encodes the laws and properties of light for amusement, as well the mechanics of symmetry and tessellation. Polariscopes and Conoscopes, the more serious utilitarian siblings of the Kaleidoscope, were the optical devices used to view and annotate the interference figures found in this post.

form constants of optical minerologyPlate from Physikalische Krystallographie – Paul Heinrich Groth [1885]

form constants of optical minerologyplate from Mineralogie – Franz Wolfgang Ritter von Kobell [1864]

form constants of optical minerologyPlate from Physikalische Krystallographie – Paul Heinrich Groth [1885]

form constants of optical minerologyPlate from Mineralogie – Gustav Adolf Kenngott [1890]

form constants of optical mineralogyOptical effects during the heat treatment of glass – David Brewster [1815]

form constants of optical mineralogyThe Phenomenon of Light (German, unknown) [1895]

Related posts:
Primal Generative: Form Constants & Entoptic Geometry
The Logic of Crystals – William T. Astbury & Kathleen Yardley’s Space-group Diagrams