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At the next Vossius Seminar V.E. Mandrij, Peter van Emde Boas and Ghica van Emde Boas-Lubsen will present their research. V.E. Mandrij (Vossius Research Fellow) will give the talk “Network of painters and naturalists through the centuries: learning how to print butterfly wings" and Peter van Emde Boas and Ghica van Emde Boas-Lubsen (UvA and IBM Netherlands) will present "Analyzing the Logic of Sun Tzu in “The Art of War”, Using Mind Maps."

Event details of Vossius Seminar
20 November 2023
15:30 -17:30
Belle van Zuylenzaal

15.30-16.30: V.E. Mandrij (University of Konstanz)

Network of painters and naturalists through the centuries: learning how to print butterfly wings

Lepidochromy is a technique that consists of transferring the original colours of butterflies and moths by pressing the wings of dead specimens on a sticky surface to transfer their original scales. Several artists working at different places and at different times used it in watercolours and oil paintings. How did they learn about the technique? By exchanging with one other? By reading technical sources? By looking at the paintings? Or did the practice of lepidochromy emerge in different artistic centres independently from one another?
The story became more interesting when naturalists began to appropriate the techniques for scientific purposes: building large collections of butterflies and moths on paper. Between the 18th and 20th centuries, naturalists published written sources in books of secrets and entomological treatises to describe the making process of the technique. Some naturalists created albums of lepidochromic images that are still conserved in natural history museums, others even used them to illustrate their books selling hundreds of copies, therefore documenting the practice of this technique in natural history.

This presentation will provide an overview of the network of painters and naturalists who used the technique. It will reflect upon the best methods to document this network and to analyse the exchange of knowledge between the different makers through the centuries.

About the researcher

V.E. Mandrij (pronouns: they/them) is an art historian and a writer. They got their PhD in art history at the University of Konstanz in the research program Changing Frames. Art History and Art Technology in Exchange in collaboration with the Stuttgart State Academy of Fine Arts (2018-2023). Their thesis investigated the lepidochromy technique in the oeuvre of the Dutch painter Otto Marseus van Schrieck (c. 1620-1678) and combined methodologies from art history and conservation sciences.
They authored articles published in multi-authored volumes, including in the volume of the Netherlands Yearbook of Art History (2021). They are currently co-editing an anthology on insects and colours in art and natural history that will be published by Brill in 2024. They are also one co-founder of the research group Ecologies of Premodern Art hosted by the association of art historians Ulmer Verein.
Besides their academic research, Mandrij published prose. Currently, they are writing a philosophical essay on Dutch still-life paintings to demonstrate the importance of art (history) in the climate crisis.

16.30-17.30: Peter van Emde Boas and Ghica van Emde Boas-Lubsen (University of Amsterdam and IBM Netherlands)

Analyzing the Logic of Sun Tzu in “The Art of War”, Using Mind Maps

In this talk we will discuss the contents of a book we published in the Springer series “Logic in Asia: Studia Logica Library”: Analyzing the Logic of Sun Tzu in “The Art of War”, Using Mind Maps. We will first introduce Sun Tzu, a Chinese strategist who lived 2500 years ago and who wrote “The Art of War”. Next, we will talk about “mind maps”: diagrams used to visually organize information, and our way of using them to represent the text of Sun Tzu, both in Chinese and English. Our Mind Maps present the text in the format of a tree where the nodes are formed by structural phrases in the text. This allows to recognize the logical structure of the text in a visual format.

The result is an edition of the Sun Tzu text which allows direct insight in the structure of the text and which brings the recurring logical patterns used by the author to the surface. These patterns are enumerations, pairs of opposites, metaphors and various types of conditional sentences. Our methodology represents a simple kind of language technology which, in principle can be performed on any text (classic or not). Our transformation was handmade, but supported by programming tools.  

In addition to the structuring and translation aspects, we will show in our talk (if time permits) some examples of how Sun Tzu’s principles could help in understanding some events in the Second World War and the early days of the war in Ukraine.

About the researchers

Peter van Emde Boas
Peter van Emde Boas (1945) obtained a master degree in pure mathematics at the University of Amsterdam. Subsequently his interest shifted to Theoretical Computer Science, resulting in a PhD. on the subject of Abstract Complexity Theory in 1974.  His fields of interest include Complexity Theory, Semantics, Database theory, relations with Symbolic Computational Linguistics, Game Theory and Artificial Intelligence. In the field of Data Structures, he is known as the discoverer of the van Emde Boas trees.

In 1977 Peter became full professor in Mathematical Computer Science at the University of Amsterdam.  After retiring he is working on the connections between classical Chinese strategy, game theory, and logic.  

Ghica van Emde Boas - Lubsen
Ghica worked during 30 years for IBM in the Netherlands. As tester of large software operating systems, she received an outstanding contribution award for developing a test system that marked the end of the punched-cards era. Next, she helped develop Relational Database Management Systems in its early days. She wrote several books: about PHP, MySQL and Web Development.

Two co-authors of our book are Kaibo Xie, and Bonan Zhao, former students in the Master of Logic program and the ILLC PhD program at the University of Amsterdam.