appropriation, copy, reinterpretation, plagiary, remix, reproduction

accumulation, archive, wunderkammer, database, cabinet of curiosities, encyclopedia

disclosure, reprint, multiplication, republishing, replication, fac-simile

destruction, deletion, burning, damage, programmed obsolescence, hidden


Athanor is a collection of contents about arts and visual culture. Its concept draws partially from the “new aesthetic” tendencies, as a “native product of modern network culture”1; and partially from the idea of rhizomatic culture, which digital humanities scholars reworked from previous theories, united under the motto that “there is no such thing as a pure point of origin”2. In the alchimist tradition an athanor is the furnace in which the transmutation takes place, also called the occult hill, the Philosophical Tower which knows no death (α-Θάνατος).

Culture is continuously transmuted, melted, evaporated, reshaped through the means of physical and conceptual actions performed over its visual appearance. In the current hyper–connected, overstimulated scenario, each of these appearances emerges as a phantom of past lives, retaining memories of previously browsed content. But still, each appearance adds a new layer, which can be reconnected to one or more categories in this loose action-based taxonomy:

  1. appropriation (copy, reinterpretation, plagiary),
  2. accumulation (archive, wunderkammer, encyclopedia),
  3. disclosure (reprint, republishing, multiplication),
  4. destruction (deletion, burning, damage, programmed obsolescence).

Not only its content, but the container itself is ever–changing and loose: firstly conceived as a four-issues magazine, Athanor became an online log and then a distributed project, Athanor №5. Through an open call, the project gathered several contributors among visual artists, theorists and curators. The selected contributions are presented on a dedicated webpage, sorted into five temporary web exhibitions. Each page, regardless of the media format of its content, can be downloaded as a .pdf document during the exhibiting period. A complete and detailed printed catalogue will be released after the five exhibitions.

1Bruce Sterling, “An Essay on the New Aesthetic”, Wired, 2 april 2012, Link

2Dick Hebdige, Cut ‘n’ Mix: Culture, Identity and Caribbean Music, Routledge, 2003 (first ed. 1987)