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State of Wonder

What's The Invisible College? And How Do You Enroll?


17th century chemist Robert Boyle first coined the term, "The Invisible College"

17th century chemist Robert Boyle first coined the term, "The Invisible College"

This week, guest Curator Victor Maldonado turned us onto a concept he says has been deeply influential to his process. It’s the concept of the Invisible College. As Victor uses the term, it refers to a strong network of like-minded artists and art-appreciators in Portland that contribute to a culture of creativity and critique. But the term has roots that go a long way back.

Lisa Radon first introduced Maldonado to the term, and she traces it back to the 17th century chemist, Robert Boyle.

“He coined the term “Invisible College” for an informal network of proto-scientists like himself. They called themselves natural philosophers…They shared their information by sending letters to one another on their research…rather than just in the halls of academia, or currently how we do things with either conferences or publishing papers…for me, it was a beautiful model of a way to not be intellectually lonely, to find your thinking fellows.”

Click the soundfile for some thoughts on how the Invisible College operates in and around Portland with Maldonado, Radon, and other enrollees.

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