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Boswell’s new gospel of science is an embarassing experience

Posted Jan 11 2010 3:00am

Musician John Boswell has just released the third part (called ‘The Unbroken Thread’) in his Symphony of Science series of music videos — the explicit goal of which is

to bring scientific knowledge and philosophy to the masses, in a novel way, through the medium of music.

Boswell’s thing is to remix and tune the spoken words of famous scientists like Jane Goodall, Stephen Hawking etc. with high-profiled popularizers (David Attenborough, Carl Sagan, Richard Dawkin, etc.) and combine them with footage and his own electronic music compositions.

I really don’t know what to say. One side of me just loves to watch and hear the four secular gospels of the creation of the world — i.e., the history of the Universe, the history of the Earth, the history of Life, and the history of Humankind — after all, we atheists too need mind-expanding narratives we can live by:-). One of the most awesome narratives (combining the last three secular gospels into one) I’ve seen is Claire L. Evans’ ‘Evolution in 60 seconds’.

On the other hand, there are limits to what my aesthetic sensibilities can cope with. And even though ‘The Unbroken Thread’ is occasionally able to raise the right feelings of secular sublimity, Boswell’s re-mixing of pretentious voices, his outdated electronic tunes and the use of worn-out molecular animations combines into a major artistic flop. How can he for a moment believe that he will be able to bring scientific knowledge and philosophy “to the masses” (what a phrase to use!) with this kind of music video production?

I’m sure The Knife together with Korb would be able to create a much more sophisticated musical and visual rendering of the four secular gospels of creation.

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