Archives for the month of: July, 2016

Research at St. James Weybridge for work thinking about collapsing space in on itself, moving from one space to another via portals, holes in space time, or dream spaces and spiritual spaces.

Seeing intertidal steel plate propped up with the print on my desk has given me some ideas about building images and the idea of opposites. Earth and heaven. If they are as in some myths, a mirror image – how do we know which way is up?

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Happened upon a large very shiny bowl that I will try with new submīrārī images in water.

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It already does amazing things before any water is added. It only came in one size so need to try and find some similar (may be an excuse to go to India where this one was made). Plan to transfer some images from sacred spaces to fabric for the bowls and begin to look for more saints and sacred springs to photograph too to join Mary from St.Non’s holy well.

1607 submīrārī mary

The Royal Society Summer Exhibition was a fantastic showcase for science research across the UK, manned by enthusiastic practitioners it was hands on and minds engaged.

It is thought that at the BIG BANG the same number of matter and anti mater particles would have been produced – they then went about colliding with each other – annihilating into photons. We are awash in photons – particles of light. It’s still unknown what  happened to leave enough matter to create all the stars and galaxies and planets of the universe.

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Follow this link  to Antimatter Matters for an in depth explanation of what is going on at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in the search to understand why matter outnumbers antimatter in the universe.

In some information about ring-imaging Cherenkov detectors that distinguish between different types of charged particle such as muons, protons, pions and kaons I was curious to read that particles travel through the gas volume of the detector at faster than the speed of light emitting a coherent shockwave of light – I didn’t think it was possible for anything to travel faster than the speed of light.1607 positron_discovery

Had a chat with Grieg Cowan who, it turns out, helps run a schools outreach programme demonstrating cloud chambers, and explained my interest in particle physics and how I am planning to build a cloud chamber myself inspired by our trip to the Dark Matter Research Laboratory at Boulby. Obviously I won’t be able to make visible any dark matter particles but I am still excited about making other cosmic rays visible and capturing my own images of these tiny projectiles hurtling around us.

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Inspired by bubbles, researchers at the University of Bath studying photonics have created a new hollow glass fibre optic to channel high powered lasers. The walls of these tubes are designed to trap light of particular wavelengths in the core. The effect is similar to the reflection of different wavelengths by the thin film of a bubble.

1607 Royal Society Fibre optics

The laser loses less energy as the beam travels through air rather than solid glass.

1607 Royal Society laser

Fascinating and useful stuff but it was the bubble machine that was the most captivating. The thin soapy membrane stretches, reflecting and refracting light until the skin becomes so thin the light passes straight through – it is this mix of colour and turning to black that is so beautiful and mesmerizing.

1607 Royal Society bubbles

I got to make my own mini spectroscope using a piece of ridged plastic cut from a CD to diffract the light into a cardboard tube and a brief instruction of how to identify differences in LED, fluorescent and even the light on a smart phone which is created using a spectrum plus added blue (cheaper this way).

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The Planck satellite was launched in 2009 into orbit about 1.5 million kilometres away from earth. Over three years it has mapped the whole sky and observed the cosmic microwave background – the afterglow of the big bang when electrons and protons first combined to form transparent hydrogen gas allowing light to travel – it was like a fog lifting across the entire universe.

1607 Planck Cosmic microwave background

The forces of gravity and pressure from trapped light balanced each other creating a slow oscillation of matter through very low frequency sound waves –  the music of the stars. These harmonics can be read and interpreted in cosmological theory supported by the data from Planck. From data gathered by Planck scientists calculate –

4.9% – Normal matter in the Universe
26.8% – Dark matter in the Universe
68.3% – Dark energy
67.8km/s/Mpc  – Expansion rate of the Universe
550 million years – Reionization from first stars forming
13.8 billion years  – Age of the Universe

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There were of course discoveries that didn’t fit in with the standard model and theoretical predictions. Questions about hemispheric asymmetry and the ginormous cold spot remain. A small fraction of the CMB is polarised and this means it contains even more information and may hold further clues about the very early phases of the Universe’s history and also its present and future expansion.

The European Rosetta space mission and Philae explorer spent 10 years travelling to visit Comet 67P.

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Arriving in 2014 at a celestial object with almost no gravity they sent back news of a dusty world of ice and gas but one that also has traces of the building blocks necessary to create life.

1607 Comet 67P

The  Galaxy Makers were there with supercomputer simulations to test how galactic ingredients and violent events shape the life history of galaxies.

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Following a recipe I created my own galaxy which was given a code and could be brought to life using a hologram video, my smartphone and a plastic galaxy maker I was provided with. I can’t convey with a photo how cool this tiny spiral galaxy rotating over my phone screen is.

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From godlike galaxy gazing to immersive hurtling between the stars dodging between fronds of dark matter magically made visible by a virtual reality headset, Durham University had it covered.

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Space is full of dust. Stardust. On earth I believe it is mostly made up of dead skin cells. Jorge Otero-Pailos’ The Ethics of Dust is an impressive interaction with centuries of dust accumulation in Westminster Hall at the Houses of Parliament.

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Stripping the ancient walls of the patina of age, the build up from the passing through of countless dignitaries and ne’er do wells, onto a latex cast that is then hung like a skinned animal the length of the impressive hall.

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The surface is thick velvet, wrinkled like a newborn.

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and the birthmarks of provenance can be matched to those on the opposing wall.

Taking both her cue from and her place in history Mary Branson’s New Dawn light sculpture can also be found at the Houses of Parliament as a permanent addition to Westminster Hall, a site of many demonstrations calling for change.

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Inspired by the many hundreds of petitions made to the government by women fighting for a right to vote that lie furled in the archives of the chambers; the scrolls are  transformed to glass.

1607 Mary Branson New Dawn (1)

The circles, that together form one large sun rising, change colour and pattern via a computer link to the monthly cycle of the pull of the moon on the waters of the Thames.

1607  Mary Branson New Dawn (3)

1607 Chud Clowes Starling wing

Paid a worthwhile visit to Imperial College Sherfield Building Gallery to see Chud Clowes show Murmurations inspired  by analogies between the swirling clouds of migrating starlings flashing gold from their feathers and the gold of the rescue blankets offered to desperate migrants drawn to collective movement across borders.

Catching up with RCA Alumni and celebrating this years graduate show. The atmosphere was unfortunately tempered by the nation having hit the self destruct button on the previous day. A world turned upside down.(courtesy of Nayoun Kang)

1607 Nayoung Kang

Despite some uplifting and inspiring work my thoughts were very distracted and so I only have a few images to share.

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Mollie Teane’s sunshine colours showing a multi-layered collision of cultures was just a reminder of the cultural poverty a brexit vote signals.

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Kristina Chan’s monumental monoprint to the slow time of geology

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and primordial instincts that even Hoyeon Kang’s simulated fire invokes serve as reminders of the tiny fragment of time we inhabit.

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Mayra Ganzinotti’s beautiful interplay of the body with crystals made me think of this grounding inscription,

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taking us back to the essence of ourselves.

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Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art presented Magical Surfaces: The Uncanny in Contemporary Photography, an exhibition that explored the uncanny as exemplified in the works of seven artists : Sonja Braas, David Claerbout, Elger Esser, Julie Monaco, Jörg Sasse, Stephen Shore and Joel Sternfeld. For me it seemed more about the unreal than the uncanny.

1607 Sonja Braas Firestorm

1607 Stephen Shore

Queued theme park style (actually it wasn’t that long) to experience Yayoi Kusama’s mirror rooms next door at Victoria Miro for a brief 30 second immersion. Like entering the Tardis momentarily. The attraction may be triggering a primordial response to galaxy gazing that makes this reflected infinity so captivating.

More multiplicity and reflective surfaces with Sinéid Codd at Camberwell School of Art MA show.

This was a world caught between sci fi and the surreal. Inspired by the shapes and colours of gaudy jewellery it maintains that buoyancy of brash confidence found in oversized boldy faceted gemstones. Not afraid to be fake, like costume jewellery out-glitzing real diamonds. I saw clouds, a summer pavilion by the sea, here shapes morph into a world of shifting surfaces to drown in.

 

There was an inspiring look at the transformation of materials from Simon Starling at Nottingham Contemporary. This work explored the physical, poetic and metaphorical journeys of objects and materials. He considers transformation that can take place through the geographic, the economic and through time.

He is also interested in the physical properties of photography, which he has recast as sculpture through epic distortions of scale in The Nanjing Particles. Silver particles taken from 1875 photographs are enlarged a million times.

1607 Simon Starling

Project for a Crossing is a new work where Simon Starling has built a boat out of magnesium extracted from the politically contested waters of the Dead Sea.

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After the exhibition he intends to use his magnesium boat to cross the Dead Sea – a fraught geopolitical journey that may only be partially possible since the Dead Sea lies between Jordan, Israel and the Israeli occupied West Bank.

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Joseph Wright of Derby’s painting from 1771-95  The Alchymist, in Search of the Philosopher’s Stone, Discovers Phosphorus, and prays for the successful Conclusion of his operation, as was the custom of the Ancient Chymical Astrologers is the subject for one of the series Recursive Plates. 

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Ephemeral daguerreotypes, created with a delicate chemical deposit on silver plated copper, that reflect back and hold within the same image.

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Phosphorus was discovered by accident in 1669 when Hennig Brand was boiling down thousands of litres of urine in his quest for the Philosopher’s Stone. It gave of an unearthly glow and then what a magical moment when phosphorus first ignited and the brilliant light filled the room.

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A few hundred years on and phosphorous, the 13th element to be discovered has been terribly misused as a cruel weapon.

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Settling in. I have moved into a shared studio right next to the newly branded Thames-Side Print Studio at Woolwich.  I have a great studio partner, Kim Vousden who works as a graphic designer with a foot in the digital camp and hands on in the analogue world of letterpress. I switched to my new location just in time for Open Studios so it felt like a moving in party.

During Open Studios the on site gallery was host to a sculpture showcase from the resident studio artists.

Three sculptures from my everydaymatters series exploring what we can and cannot see in our environment were included.

In my studio space I set up submīrārī – floating images that invite a primordial contemplation of a dreamlike space and hint at the usually invisible molecular movement in water. I would love the opportunity to fill a room with these.

Here Be Dragons– Gordon Cheung’s show at Nottingham Castle is a timely reminder of the fragile structures we build our world upon. The volatility of the market, the inevitability of mortality, façades and fading glory. I visited before June 23rd but it could have been a premonition of the dis – integration we have witnessed since.

The moving image works loop through collapse and reassembly in an infinite cycle so maybe I should take hope from this that we can rebuild our world. Other scenarios are captured in stasis as they fall like sand from the sky. Beauty of entropy.

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There are also magical vistas, the open plains and misty mountains of hopes and dreams. In these works we see how the world is put together and can question what our dreams are built on.

The digital cascading algorithm works give the impression of a world made of sand but in large textured landscapes sand itself is used to create an unstable ground. Grains cling precipitously hanging in crumbling strata from the canvas, dusting the floor with allegory as they fall.

Lumen Studios presented VOID, an exhibition held amid the airy grandeur of St. John on Bethnal Green, a pertinent setting for work exploring the representation of voids, black holes and portals.

There was also a screening of Sarah Sparkes film, Time You Need  which explores the potential for consciousness to time-travel within the material limits of the human body.

Among the works were Black Hole photographs, a typology of voids found in numerous locations around the world from Jane Grisewood.

1606 Lumen Void (14)

There was a fascinating talk from Chris Welch, Professor of Space Engineering at the International Space University in Strasbourg, France, about the representation of black holes and voids in space physics and science fiction. Black Holes are Red Super Giants that explode and collapse.

I was particularly interested to hear him speak about tidal forces within a black hole as I have just completed a soft ground etching intertidal looking at the effects of tidal gravity on the earth.

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A human falling into a black hole would experience extreme tidal forces that may cause spaghettification – the stretching of the body due to the difference in acceleration between the head and feet. The smaller the black hole the denser the matter the stronger the force. He put the possibility of worm holes into the world of science fiction saying they would require the unknown quantity of negative energy to pass through a portal from one point in the universe to another. A lot of negative energy has been released lately so you never know, maybe this was the leave EU campaign’s attempt to time travel back to their mythical golden age.

A recent uplifting article from Sam Leith in The Evening Standard praised Stephen Hawking for his ambitious project to put together a comprehensive three-dimensional map of the entire known universe. The Cosmos computer will trace the movements of billions of cosmic objects, using data from the Planck satellite and the Dark Energy Survey. Leith exudes ‘What a thing of awe and wonder! And the stuff that’s not there will be even more exciting than the stuff that is. Think of the holy hush of the Canes Ventaci Supervoid – a region of empty space more than a billion light years across. It makes me think of Wallace Steven’s lines –

"the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is"

Possibilities of parallel worlds were explored by Andrew Schneider in his physical performance piece YOUARENOWHERE staged at Shoreditch Town Hall.

1606 Andrew Schneider YOUARENOWHERE

You are nowhere. You are now here. What if every time you experience near death your life splits in two, even if you just think about death, maybe you did die and another self took off in another parallel world. Setting the scene for tearing the fabric of reality he stumbles and glitches through monologue and dialogue, directly addressing the audience to commit to his unravelling of the physical world. The moment when the backcloth drops and we are face to face with another audience I shuffle to try and catch my own reflection but find no duplicated movement. The character on the newly revealed side of the stage does however mimic Schneider. They play out a dance of disbelief trying to catch the other out to discover who is real. The audience is asked to swop sides and at the next curtain drop our doppelgangers have disappeared. We are left to contemplate the fleeting glimpse of our other selves performing a similar existence.

I experienced the magical journey that is The Embrace of the Serpent in the first few days of  despair over the divided state of our country following the Brexit vote. It seems we are doomed to keep pressing the self destruct button to the bitter end. The film is stunning in its beauty and poignancy for a world being destroyed through greed and ignorance.

As in Complicite’s The Encounter our relationship to stuff is questioned. The heavy boxes of the scientists weighing down the smooth passage of the canoe. Both the Shaman and the scientists giving their own agency to objects be it a sacred necklace or a gramophone record.