Traveling is about making connections to places, about getting from here to there. Sometimes it presents itself in unexpected ways. Last Friday I took a day trip to Cambridge England. The plan was to see a John Cage exhibit. He was the composer who wrote the musical masterpiece 4’33”, that is, 4 minutes and 33 seconds of silence. Before getting to Kettles yard to see the Cage exhibit, the first stop was to Cavendish laboratory.
Many major discoveries were made at this lab, not the least was the discovery of the structure of DNA by Watson and Crick in 1953. As we began our tour I was amazed at the accomplishments of James Clerk Maxwell the first professor and director of Cavendish labs. He had an interest in light and made many discoveries and inventions such as improving on the Zoetrope, a device that animates, by placing lenses in the slots which eliminates distortion. Perhaps the most impressive thing about Maxwell is he is the first to make a color photograph. Since I teach photography at HLG and have been a photographer since childhood, I found a connection between me and Cavendish Labs from learning about Maxwell and his work with light.
I’ve discovered that real learning can occur in traveling if you keep an open mind and open eyes. The trip to Cavendish connected me to my professional career as an illustrator and designer at Bell Laboratories in Naperville, Illinois. There I produced illustrations of cellular phone technology with the scientists that developed it, before it even existed. The trip to Cambridge was also steeped in history, the place where Isaac Newton, Tennyson and Francis Bacon worked. I saw King’s College chapel and was connected to my Christian faith. I finally made it to the Cage exhibit where I became connected to my passion of the arts. I was excited to see the innovative ideas that John Cage shared with the world. But it was the whole trip that exceeded my expectations as I connected so much of my life to one place.