chronotext is a growing collection of software experiments exploring the relation between text, space and time
Javascriptorium
on desert wandering and representation of the concept of sanctuary

The members of the Qumran Community (believed to be part of the Essenes sect) were scribes. More than two thousand years ago, they produced what is known today as the Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered in situ in 1947.

Sitting in the scriptorium and copying the Holy Book was part of their daily routine. The precious scrolls would then spread across the Land, be read in public, or reserved for study purposes.

Javascriptorium was commissioned in 2006 by the Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, home of the Dead Sea Scrolls since 1965.

For a couple of years, the piece was projected on a wall located at the end of a tour featuring the Dead Sea Scrolls and the millenium-old Aleppo Codex, first copy of the Bible in book form.

episode 1 / scene 1

Zoom out on the Sea of Chaos, symbolizing the state preceding the genesis of the universe. A divine column, link between Heaven and Earth is represented at the center of the world. The verse wrapped around the helix is the divine order from Exodus 25:8:

And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst

episode 1 / scene 2

From Axis Mundi to Terra Incognita: the Sinai wilderness, as the next chaotic space.

The text from Numbers 2 describes the Exodus from Egypt to the Promised Land. The sanctuary is represented as being at the epicenter of the Desert Encampment, surrounded by the Twelve Tribes of Israel.

episode 2 / scene 1

Emancipation of the oppressed: leaving through the Ishtar Gate of Babylon, conquered by Cyrus the Great in 538 BCE.

Ezra 1 on the wall, Isaiah 40 on the horizon…

Shall the sanctuary reincorporate the Temple, still to be rebuilt in Jerusalem?

episode 2 / scene 2

Beginning of the second Exodus, from Babylon to Jerusalem…

The following verses from Isaiah 40 served as the visual metaphor for the animation:

A voice cries: «In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.»

The Great Isaiah Scroll is the largest and best preserved of the scrolls found at Qumran: not a coincidence, since Isaiah was very popular among the members of the Community due to his critique of the corrupt power and his visions of Apocalypse

episode 3 / scene 1

The final descent has begun: around 100 BCE, the sectarians are leaving an unpure and corrupt Jerusalem for the wilderness du jour – the Judean desert…

This text is not from the Bible, but rather from the Manual of Discipline or Community Rule, Scroll 9:

This is the time for the preparation of the way into the wilderness,
And he shall teach them to do all that is required at that time
And to separate from all those who have not turned aside from all injustice.

Since the validity of the Temple in Jerusalem is being questioned, the sanctuary will now reside within each member of the Community; hence the words "Sanctuary of man" wrapped around the helices…

eisode 3 / scene 2

Qumran, home of the Community, is located on the cliffs surrounding the Dead Sea.

Vision powered by Ezekiel 47: the Water of Life flowing from the Temple in Jerusalem down into the Dead Sea…

Prophecies often refer to events that will take place at the End of Days, that is, after the Apocalypse. For redemption to come, the world as we know it must come to an end.

The members of the Community were confident that the End of Days was imminent…

Indeed, their settlement was destroyed in 68 CE by the Romans during the Great Revolt. Two years later, the Second Temple in Jerusalem suffered the same fate.

javasuite

In 2010, Javascriptorium took part in an exhibition at the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris.

In honor of the occasion, French composer Marc Piéra created a 17-minute track called Javasuite. Since then, the two works are inseparable…

acknowledgments

  • • Thanks to Suzan Hazan, Curator of New Media at Israel Museum for her inspiration and for naming this piece.
  • • Thanks to Adolfo Roitman, Director of the Shrine of the Book for his inspiration and fruitful collaboration.
  • • Biblical content has been obtained from the following sources.
  • • Remastered using the Cinder framework by The Barbarian Group.
  • • Audio engine: FMOD Sound System by Firelight Technologies.