From Leonardo da Vinci to Elon Musk – There and Back Again
What will I remember about the time of the pandemic?
My memory will be mostly associative. My friend and business partner, the talented mathematician Sergei Shumsky, managed to beat cancer. Elon Musk launched America’s “trampoline”- this is a victory of both intelligence and talent, which is something that can’t possibly not bring me joy. The art world inadvertently found its future Klondike – the digitalization of art objects and the ability to access cultural heritage sites and cultural websites.
It might sound strange, but I will retain by and large positive memories from this period.
This was an overture to the main text.
Cultural Resonator. From Leonardo da Vinci to Elon Musk – there and back again.
Dedicated to Sergei Shumsky’s endurance.
The development of human civilization can be viewed as a process of continuous learning and the accumulation of knowledge. From a biological point of view, there are very few differences between the modern human and his ancestors. The only real difference is in the volume of knowledge accumulated by humanity.
S. Shumsky, “Machine Intelligence”, Moscow, 2019
The same idea can be formulated in the following way: the essence of any time period in our history is the accumulation of culture, in its broadest sense. The most expensive artist of all time is Leonardo Da Vinci. But he wasn’t only an artist – he was also a scientist and an engineer. Today, just like in his time, this artificial segregation merges into one – a creator, maker, and producer.
This is not merely a figure of speech. Damien Hirst claims that all of his work lies in conceptual creation, where the physical execution rests with third parties. Just like it was in the days of Da Vinci – all the great masters had entire workshops brimming with apprentices and students.
So, what does Musk have to do with this? I would predict that over the coming 500 years, his ‘space creations’ will only have cultural value. The majority of this value will be embodied in sketches, videos of the launch, photos, and, of course, in the extraordinary archive of his tweets – a modern mix of the epistolary genre with a personal diary.
Perhaps only because of Musk (after all, he will be 500 years closer in time to our descendants), people will remember the great Leonardo, and his “Mona Lisa” will continue to fascinate, attract and inspire future generations. That is precisely why it is so vital not to lose a single bit of information about everything that relates to both spiritual and material culture. That is the very marker that sets us apart from global chaos.
We know of Socrates’ work mostly based on the records of Plato, and the works of the latter were copied by eastern philosophers in the Middle Ages. This thread, this archiving of cultural codes, has always been a miracle of the history of mankind’s evolution. This still works in full force today.
The spirit of Da Vinci is clearly present in what Musk does – as well as in hundreds, thousands, and hundreds of thousands of other contemporary creators.
Today, we are aware of the importance of preserving and transmitting information, culture, and knowledge, and we are able to do this consciously and purposefully. This could be a generous gift for future generations.