The Saga of Renaissance Period – Transition from Dark Age to Transformation into Digital Age
Broadly between (500-1200 AD), 700 years after centuries of battles the world was badly bruised, it was war ravaged for a long time. It was under siege. It was hurt. It was emotionally drained. It was intellectually bankrupt. The human conscience was confined. Society was sapped of energy. The depletion was evident. The inspiration was missing from the scene. There was dearth of information, perceived period of intellectual darkness engulfed in the gulf of creative ideas and scientific thoughts. The world civilization was down after the downfalls of Imperial Rome and Ancient Greek. Though it was not fully out but was definitely in tatters, desperately trying to figure out the extent of damage and depth of destruction not just the physical count but the metaphysical conscience consisting of the state of the society. It was the new beginning. The much-needed breakaway. It was the awakening from prolonged slumber. Humanity was in a state of hijacked hibernation. Things had drifted. Minds were in disarray. Intellectual thoughts were forcefully endangered. Religious voices were irrationally vocal. The passion was missing. The spirit had substantially dwindled. The dark clouds were surreptitiously hovering. After all it was the Dark Age.
The dawn of light was frantically attempting to peep through doors of enlightenment. It was the liberation of intellectual imprisonment. It was the detachment of conscience from the religious tenets.
It was time for Renaissance…ushering a fundamental change.
Renaissance the French word connotes “rebirth” but the meaning denotes multiple things “revisit”, “recreate”, “revival”, and “reform” from being the harbinger of change to harvesting a tectonic transformation to engineering new ways of thinking, and to evolving new ways of working to making the world fundamentally change its look on its own outlook.
The period between the 14th to 17th century Europe witness a sea change in its own outlook and the epicenter of that change was cooking in the beautiful city of Florence in the city-state of Italy. It was not a unified Italy the way we know it now; it was a group of city states run by rich and powerful families like the Medici family. It was a transition period bridging between the end of the Dark Age and the beginning of the Modern Age. The world was struggling to detach from the clutches of the Medieval thoughts that had gripped the world for pretty long…the collapse of Greek and Roman civilization had then became a history and still nothing was changing. The change then for many centuries had been agonizingly slow and nothing was visible and nobody movement was making any headway and shift was far from being titled as paradigm in nature.
In the very beginning of 1400, Brunelleschi and Donatello, both young, excited and exuberant, were out on exploring the different parts of ancient Rome when they ventured inside the remains and ruins of the rich heritage and classical monuments, they were truly fascinated by the magnificence and magnitude of the masterly work undertaken by the greatest of people of the erstwhile civilization that included a galaxy of stars; the artists, the architects, the painters, the sculptor and the thinkers. Later Brunelleschi became a renowned architect and Donatello a famous sculptor. Against a salubrious backdrop of social harmony, political stability and economic prosperity, the society ushered in a gamut of development spanning the space of printing technology, astronomy to anatomy to exploration and experimentation in multi disciplinary subjects…these profusely manifested in magical munificence in the sphere of art, literature and philosophy.
Art is the mirror for the society and the scientist. The scientists envision their future work of scientific invention through the lens of artist work. It is in the work of art that the mind gets its thoughts sketched and skimmed to distill out those hidden pearls. The profound thoughts are a product of observation and imagination. The more the mind questions and queries, the more the thoughts get the meat to meet the requirement of demanding minds on constant prowl.
During the European Renaissance period art was at the epicenter of change, and the change was in the depth, the shadow and the perspective. Giotto Di Bonodone to Leon Battista Alberti to Piero Della Francesca was the forefront of these tectonic shifts in the way artist exhibited their art work. Adding depth into painting changed the way we interacted with painting. Adding shadow, changed the way light was looked in the painting. All these technical changes changed our perspective towards perceiving the colorful canvas. Leonardo the ultimate Renaissance man, it was not about his painting of Mona Lisa but his extended work on varied subjects ranging from anatomy to flight to botany to geology. The paintings moved from merely being a piece of symbolism to a masterpiece of realism. It was the golden period when greatest of artists like Leonardo Da Vinci to Michelangelo to Raphael took to center stage. Their work of art from Last Supper Painting to David Sculptor to Sistine Chapel to School of Athena till today even after more than 500 years still remains the defining movement in the revolution of art. Science had its umbilical cord with the work of art. Leonardo was an artist and a scientist. His scientist thoughts germinated in the artist canvas where he designed the sketches depicting the working machines to flying aircrafts.
Literature during the Renaissance period saw a cosmic change in its composition and exposition. This period has been considered as the golden period for the English literature and the greatest work of English literature from the greatest ever writer William Shakespeare. In the area of drama, nobody could match his caliber on intensity and exquisite use of language. His innate ability to fluidly shift and solidly shape between the sphere of comedy and tragedy was intensively ingenious. Painter Masaccio to Writer Giovanni had set a new benchmark for work of art and literature. The literary works were highly influenced by the cultural changes and intellectual churning re-calibrating the sphere of imagination, the creative writing transformed under the aegis of stalwarts like Dante, Petrarch to Machiavelli. The creation of movable type printing press by Johannes Gutenberg moved the way writing was connecting the community at large. These allowed the authors to write in their vernacular language capturing the ideas in its true form and ideas have no boundaries and it paved the way for the coming up of the translators who could take these profound thoughts embodied in these bodies of text far and wide using the language of region which the people of that region understood in its original formation.
Till then the world was viewed through the window of religion and mysticism where the religious bodies like the churches was dominating the public discourse. The Catholic Churches were at the helm of the affair. They doggedly controlled the way world was to be viewed and there was no scope for any review. Those who opposed the doctrines of the Church where instantly branded as heretic and were termed as heresy. They were then subjugated to rigorous punishment and were imprisoned indefinitely. It was the Earth not the Sun at the center of the Universe. Copernicus and Galileo had a contrarian view but the custodians of religious bodies vociferously refuted and rejected such viewpoints. The biblical thoughts were be questioned and there were not good enough answer to satiate the hunger of enlighten masses rising from control of dark ashes. Their dogmas and doctrines were considered the gospel truth and anybody denouncing or announcing or showing any signs of resistance were abjectly subjected to brutal subjugation, immediately put under house arrest or pushed to permanent exile. Little room for liberal thoughts and doors were shown to people attempting to change the things as they are dominating the society at large during the Dark Ages.
Renaissance marked the breakaway from the clutches of conformist society and carving a space for a more vibrant society and stimulating vivacious communities to blatantly question the age old assumptions and audaciously fight the impregnable citadel of religious preaching and spiritual beliefs.
Renaissance had its base in the continent of Europe, hence the European Renaissance encapsulating multiple flavors in terms of Italian to French to English Renaissance. The origin was in Italy. Post the decline of the ancient Greek and Roman civilization which dominated for many centuries before the dawn of the Dark Ages. The beauty and bounty of artistic and architectural splendors of the Greco-Roman civilization had deeply entered into the state of terminal hibernation. The Dark Age was deafening and dying any space for creativity or conversation on rationality. The prolonged period was perilously asphyxiating. People’s mind was in turmoil and the turbulent thoughts were desperately searching for ways to express and exhibit their artistic and scientific temper. Minds were pregnant with path breaking ideas and ideas are the bedrock for colossal changes and changes that can radically redefine the way the society looks at itself and the way it fashions its functioning and the changes that changes the very foundation of the contours of the civilization of a particular era, it was the Medieval Era. The Age that was finding itself miserably lost in the wilderness after the wonderful work of art, science, architecture and philosophy that mesmerized the Greek and the Roman civilization. Plato, Aristotle to Socrates had changed the way world looked at life, living, thinking to working that forms the basis of human existence and engagement with nature.
Science which was subservient to the religious forces started to force its way out of the state of deep hibernation and it was time for scientific discovery and inventions. Astronomy to Anatomy…the Outer Cosmos and the Human Body were the big mystery that was haunting the human mind and there were no outlet to get those ideas to come out and get tested. It was magical period for exploring the world outside us the Universe and the world very much within us the Human Anatomy. Andrew Vesalius to Isaac Newton changed the way we looked at the Earth and the Body that we all carry while living on this Earth an integral part of the Cosmic Universe. Astronomy was absolutely gaining its stronghold and the movement led to the shift from the geocentric view of the universe to the heliocentric viewpoint…a paradigm shift on the Cosmos and the Universe. Astrology was relatively losing its foothold as it was in the control of the religious preachers.
It was the invention of Telescope by Galileo which led to the establishment of the hypothesis of the distant world outside our world. The beginning of the voyage into the BIG world…It was the invention of Microscope by Leeuwenhoek which led the establishment of the cell, the world within us. The beginning of the voyage into the SMALL world…
Renaissance was also credited to as the “Age of Discovery”. It was literally the age of discovering new countries and continents until then unknown to the Europeans. Portugal and Spain were at the forefront of such exploration and explorers like Christopher Columbus to Vasco Da Gama ventured into the unknown territories and it guided to the discovery through the sea route of what is today known as America and India. In fact it was the great Marco Polo just before the start of renaissance in the 13th century had set the exploratory ball in motion to explore Asia, it was China and then other countries in search of spices and gems, and he was then the ultimate pioneer in the sphere of worldly exploration and that his exploratory venture significantly contributed to the rise of renaissance. He became the inspiration for later explorers who have changed the way we have been till then looking at the world map.
Renaissance, the period when the Europe’s classical past was revisited. The classical past was deeply entrenched in the rich history of culture and civilization spread across the geographies of Greece and Rome. It was the historical period when innovation and creativity gained its lost steam. The period when the art of questioning and the science of experimentation massively unfolded newer doors and opened many windows to the world at large…it was a commencement of a truly fascinating journey for humanity and people joyfully discovering the unknown, and knowing the logic behind the patterns and diving deep to deciphering the natural phenomena for protecting and predicting a better future for the mankind.
The winds of change that was created through the forces of Renaissance were all encompassing and it tenderly touched but tectonically transformed the canvas of art, the structure of architecture, the language of literature, the space of science and the sphere of philosophy…the indelible mark of those forces are still afresh and after almost 700 years once again time for the New Renaissance to blow a bout of fresh wind to widen the world view…IMAGINATION AGE (Digital Age).
21st Century, it is Time for History to repeat itself…replaying in the period of 700 years.