the-documents.org

the-documents.org is an online platform, collecting, describing, presenting and generating documents of all sorts. It documents documents. The sound of Mount Vesuvius on a January evening, instructions on how to use jumper cables, the packaging of Tabasco pepper sauce… : the-documents.org presents photographs, scans, screenshots, audio- and movie-files and offers a short textual description or digression. There are myriad ways of navigating through the collection.

Please visit www.the-documents.org and feel free to subscribe to our newsletter to get updates on new documents.

To celebrate the launch of the-documents.org, the GRAND OPENING came disguised as a new document on the website: on Sunday 23 May, from 3h30 to 6h30 AM (CET). the-documents.org hosted a livestreamed astronomical event – the third instalment of De Cleene De Cleene’s Public Observatory. On May 23rd, the planet Saturn appeared to be stationary among the surrounding celestial bodies in the night sky.[1] In an attempt to capture this moment of planetary standstill, a telescope was set up in a pasture near a forest edge with a view of the south-southeast morning sky.[2] 

[1]  The standstill is de facto inexistent. It’s the moment when Saturn’s apparent prograde motion turns to a retrograde motion. Since Earth completes its orbit in a shorter period of time than the planets outside its orbit, it periodically overtakes them, like a faster car on a multi-lane highway. When this occurs, the planet being passed will first appear to stop its eastward drift, and then drift back toward the west.

[2] In astrology, Saturn’s retrograde movement is generally a time of karmic rebalancing. Previous bad behavior could be punished. But hard work and responsibility could also be rewarded.

This project was made possible with the support of the Flemish Government and KASK, the School of Arts of HOGENT and Howest.

Mammoth Tree and the Golden Spurs --- Between the rhinos and the kangaroos in the Antwerp Zoo a wooden footpath curves through a grove of Sequoiadendron Giganteum trees. In the middle of this Californian forest, visitors find the giant slice of a felled tree of the same species. It was brought to the zoo in 1962 and was approxi­mately 650 years old at the time. Eleven labels point out significant moments in history on the tree’s growth rings. They range from zoo- and zoology-related moments (for instance: ‘1901: The Okapi is described as a species’, or ‘1843: Foundation of the RZSA and opening of the Zoo’, or ‘1859: Darwin publishes The Origin of Species’, etc.), to cultural and historical milestones (‘1555: Plantijn starts publishing books in Antwerp’, or ‘1640: Rubens (baroque painter) dies’, or ‘1492: Columbus in America’). Another label points to the last growth ring and reads: ‘1962: this tree is felled and this tree disc is installed at the Zoo.’ The label pointing to the centre of the tree implies a simultaneity between the tree’s first growth year and the Battle of the Golden Spurs in 1302.

As the hours passed, and while clouds continuously kept us from seeing stars and planets, we started to photograph the set-up used to launch www.the-documents.org . To highlight the umbrella that protected the gear from the unpredictable bursts of rain, we used a flashlight: during the thirty second long exposure, it was lit for two seconds. This proved to be enough to give the whole the feel of an untampered, realistic view. Meanwhile, the website was in all likelihood streaming a grey haze, as the telescope was pointed to the fleeting clouds and gradually spinning along with the earth’s movement to keep track of the same invisible celestial bodies. As we returned to the base, planet Jupiter had become visible with the naked eye.

On May 23rd 2021, the planet Saturn appeared to be stationary among the surrounding celestial bodies in the night sky. This was the third instalment of De Cleene De Cleene’s Public Observatory.