Archives for category: Uncategorized

I have put together a short video documentation of Scales of Intangibility an interactive installation set in a black velvet lined room made during my Studio4 residency at Chisenhale Art Place. Immersive projections of particle trails, filmed from my cloud chamber experiments, make visible the activity of cosmic rays and background radiation that pass through us continuously without our awareness.

1804 documentation scales 4.jpgThrough experiencing this usually unseen activity of particles that shower down on us when cosmic rays strike the edge of the earth’s atmosphere we can begin to think about other possibilities of what might be present in our universe that we are currently unable to interact with such as dark matter.

Excited to hear that in 2019 Science Gallery London will be exploring dark matter with a scientific and philosophical investigation into the fundamental nature of reality, taking  the theory of dark matter as a starting point for conceptual investigations and experimental forms of inquiry.

1804 Boulby dark matter detector.jpg

Original dark matter detector Boulby Underground Laboratory

The text In the Dark by Alexander B. Fry will be one of the texts discussed during the upcoming Laboratory of Dark Matters event being hosted by Guest Projects as part of their 10 Year Anniversary celebration weekend.

1804 LaboratoryofDarkMatters_gp celebration_sketch.jpg

Short texts which have a relationship to the exploration of dark matter as a scientific or philosophical concept will be presented to stimulate questions and encourage shared knowledge across disciplines and perspectives. These will also include excerpts from Joyful Cruelty: Towards a Philosophy of the Real by Clément Rosset – translated by David F. Bell, 1993 and Edward Irving’s 1905 How To Know The Starry Heavens.

1804 Great Lick Telescope.jpg

The New Materialisms Reading Group I attend has been persevering with Donna Haraway’s Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene. It has had an influence on the work I am making for the upcoming exhibition at Ugly Duck Lumen: Cosmic PerspectivesThe exhibition aims to inspire a change of thinking through highlighting the precarious nature of life, and the extraordinary set of circumstances that allow us to exist, in an otherwise, possibly, lifeless universe.

1804 Paradise Walk.jpg

I have been out taking new photographs in local paradise locations to use for submīrārī (earthbound). Printed on organza, the ethereal images will float in water in earthclad bowls, landscapes fluctuating on the cusp of disappearance. Donna Haraway, drawing from Latour, proposes the ‘Earthbound’ as those humans who are ready to rethink and create new narratives with Gaia at the centre, who recognise the entanglement of society and nature and aim to pursue a ‘nonarrogant collaboration with all those in the muddle’. The shift in perspective embraced by the ‘Earthbound’ embodies a grief shared with other species at loss of habitat and disappearing landscapes. It is not a nostalgia for paradise lost but a reappraisal of what paradise could be. The scenes depicted in this work, sourced from prosaic locations named Paradise, aim towards deconstructing a romanticised ideology and bringing us down to earth.

1804 Earthbound.jpg

We must stay with the trouble. It is important to care. ‘We are all responsible to and for shaping conditions for multispecies flourishing…’.

So glad I got to see Marcus Coates exhibition at Workplace Gallery. He shares a similar sensibility to Haraway regarding response-ability and interconnection to other species. He engages in new ways of thinking through humour and pathos. In The Last of Its Kind  a video where he faces the ocean naked, desperately shouting a list of human achievements at an indifferent landscape he brings home the insignificance of the human in the history of Gaia while in Apology to the Great Auk the extinction of this once numerous flightless bird is placed firmly on our collective shoulders.

1804 Marcus Coates 1

Extinct Animals is a collection of Plaster of Paris casts of the artists hands taken whilst performing the extinct animal’s shadow. His work is absurd, painful and joyful.

1804 Marcus Coates 2

Lorna Simpson’s beautiful show Unanswerable at Hauser & Wirth London questions the archive, how we hold onto the past through artefact or memory, ultimately all of this will dissolve away despite out best efforts.1804 Lorna Simpson

Looking through the prism of media presentation of women and the African American experience as portrayed in magazines that reflect a different era.1804 Lorna Simpson 2

There is an appeal in the aesthetic of old magazines, a nostalgia could be evoked. Or it could just be a painful reminder of issues that are still to be fully resolved.

 

1804 1953 Cosmetic RaysThe Tate screening of Jean Painlevé’s documentary films Silver, Photons and Liquid Crystals was a rare chance to see his abstract films made between the early 1930s and the late 1970s on liquid crystals, photons, diatoms and silver nitrate. It was an odd mix of science and psychedelia. Painlevé used the microscope and modern optics to reveal the natural world in intricate detail. I particularly wanted to see the early films of photons and silver nitrate but it was quite hard to decipher and at times the bizarre commentary was distracting. The programme’s finale was rewarding with some stunning footage of liquid crystals.

1804 jean painleve
Jean Painlevé Phase Transition in Liquid Crystals

Micro to wide angle but with a shared curiosity to re-present the world beyond our natural senses. Andreas Gursky at Hayward. ‘Driven by an interest and insight into ‘the way that the world is constituted’, as well as what he describes as ‘the pure joy of seeing’, Gursky makes photographs that are not just depictions of places or situations, but reflections on the nature of image-making and the limits of human perception. Often taken from a high vantage point, these images make use of a ‘democratic’ perspective that gives equal importance to all elements of his highly detailed scenes.’

1804 Andreas Gursky.jpg

I still have to finish editing the video filmed in the velvet chamber in collaboration with dance artist Paola Napolitano exploring theories from Laban and Plato. The process can be maddening and slow when you are new to the software. I am trying to get to grips with After Effects to clone out some unwanted light reflections but keep finding myself in a black hole and having to start again.

1804 video stillOn the horizon is new work for In Search of Darkness an exhibition curated by Lumen in Grizedale Forest to highlight the importance of preserving dark sky areas and raise awareness of the ecological problems caused by light pollution. My proposal is to create a suspended sculptural print that demonstrates, through the choice of materials, that adding light doesn’t always make things more visible. To relate the loss of knowledge of the night sky through urban light pollution to the unknown mysteries of the universe yet to be revealed.

1804 Cosmic Test projection.jpg

Blinded by the light. Great sun spangled woodland scene in an inspiring show from Christiane Baumgartner Liquid Light at Alan Cristea.

1804 Christiane Baumgartner

Enjoyed a visit to see Sam Hodge in Surface Tension with Andy D’Cruz and Marcia Teusink at The Stone Space. The works explore the idea of surface tension as a force and a potency between objects and materials.

1804 Sam Hodge

Tense with anticipation. Totally enthralling story telling from mythologist Martin Shaw. A woman arises from a mare’s tale plant with red beads falling from her mouth as she speaks, and a king’s son tied to the top of the tallest pine tree, is slowly becoming a crow.

Down below the forest path splits into two. One path is that of the sable. The other path is that of the bear. One is good. One is very bad.

1804 crick crack club

 

A second visit to experience the powerful performance of Simon McBurney in The Encounter. Inspired by the book Amazon Beaming by Petru Popescu he tells the extraordinary story of Loren McIntyre, a National Geographic photographer, who in 1969 found himself lost among the people of the remote Javari Valley in Brazil. It was an encounter that took him to the limits of human consciousness and questioned his idea of reality. The evening ended with Marcus de Soutey joining Simon McBurney for an open discussion on what consciousness might be, how it can be experienced collectively, how we determine reality, non-linear time and what happens when we die.

1804 The Encounter

The dead live on through our memories. Retrieving memories is a dynamic process – every time you recall a memory you have to repeat a pattern of signals – this is how memories change as the pattern changes or becomes incomplete. It’s interesting that there are alternate pathways in the brain to the same or a similar outcome.

1804 The Encounter complicite

National Geographic reporter Loren McIntyre had his world illuminated to other ways of thinking I wonder if Martin Pomerantz Trailing Cosmic Rays in Canada’s North in 1953 ever had a similar experience, maybe he encountered some women with interests other than cosmetics.

 

Advertisements

I had a very productive time during my Studio4 residency at Chisenhale Art Place. It was great to have so much space. I got started by putting up the hydroponic tent to run the cloud chamber to get some more film footage.

1803 filming cloud chamber (1)

I also ran a Cloud Chamber Workshop where lots of particle trails were spotted. The cloud chamber gives us a glimpse into the invisible world of particles produced in the radioactive decay of naturally occurring elements and those generated when cosmic rays strike the top of the Earth’s atmosphere.

My call out through Chisenhale Dance Place for a dance collaborator was successful and I met up with dance artist Paola Napolitano She has brought lots of brilliant ideas to the project with her knowledge of Rudolf Laban’s choreutics theory and her own interpretation of the dodecahedron as a Kinesphere, ascribing sequences of movement to the peripheral lines and planes within the shape. She shared some of Laban’s wonderful drawings with me

and pointed out his quote; ‘Space is a hidden feature of movement and movement is a visible aspect of space’ 

I then began building the velvet chamber.

Next I needed to make the small screens that the audience would use to ‘capture’ the filmed particle trails which would be projected in the chamber lined with thick black velvet.

1803 making screens 1

This took some working out to fix the joints but in the end a combination of glue, V nails, double sided tape and veneer pins seemed to be strong enough. I used tracing paper, projector screen fabric, white cotton, polyester, organza, styrene, acrylic and wood as different substrates to give different effects and emphasize the porous/solid nature of matter.

1803 velvet chamber projections 3

The particle trail footage was edited together and the projections in the chamber tested.

1803 velvet chamber projections 2Some unexpected effects appeared.1803 velvet chamber projections 1

 

I spent quite a while looking at different projector options. When it was time to film Paola I used a pico DLP for darker shots where just her body was visible and a more powerful HD projector for other shots.

1803 video still 5

There was a lot of footage to go through and only a week to the opening event. This was my first video work and I was learning Premiere Pro on the hoof.

1803 video still 8

Movement choreographed and performed by Paola Napolitano was filmed in the velvet chamber.

1803 video still 3

This work builds on recent research that began with wondering what fundamental elements make up the landscapes around us leading to the discovery that less than 5% of the universe is visible.

1803 video still 2

Within the unimaginable vastness of the universe we trace our paths continuously permeated at a quantum scale by cosmic rays fired into our world by high energy collisions in space.

1803 video still 1

Plato described the dodecahedron as the fifth construction that ‘the god used for embroidering the constellations on the whole heavens’.

There is also a contemporary theory that the universe may be the shape of a dodecahedron, not infinite but with no boundaries this is known as the 3-sphere universe theory. If you left the dodecahedron at one point you would immediately re-enter at another point

1803 video still 7

Rudolf Laban was influenced by Plato and the geometries of the platonic solids. His choreutics theories open up new languages to describe interactions between matter and space.

1803 video still 4

‘What we cannot perceive with our senses, especially our fundamental sense of touch, remains unreal and its very existence is denied, until intuition or research discovers the unique and universal role of movement as a visible aspect of space’ Laban

 

1803 Laban open dodecahedron

Laban Archive – Dodecahedron without six of its pentagonal sides, demonstrating a diagonal orientational axis with a circular void around it representing a circular movement. Model made with metal, painted wood, wool and shoelace.

 

The simple sound edit was a slow transition through the chromatic scale which is a scale with twelve pitches to echo the 12 sided dodecahedron and some added Geiger counter signals converted to an original chromatic scale composition. The video was screened at the open event Scales of Intangibility and it was a relief that Paola was pleased.

1803 screening 2.jpg

Interesting  interactions happened in the velvet chamber.

1803 Open Event

1803 Open Event 1

The polyhedral screens worked well to view the projections and ‘capture’ trails, ( a white shirt worked well too ) and I really appreciated all the good feedback from visitors.

1803 Open Event (5)

Now the concept has been tested I am keen to take the idea to new places. Hopefully it can be developed into work for my open door residency Beyond at Allenheads Contemporary Arts.

1803 tear in the fabric of space

While at Chisenhale I had the privilege of experiencing Lydia Ouramane’s The You In Us exhibition at Chisenhale Gallery alone on the floor, letting the reverberations from the underfloor transducer speakers course through my body while reading about the extraordinary tale of her grandfather pulling out all his teeth to escape military service and the night her dogs were kidnapped from her roof terrace. The sound piece is called Paradis it is about waiting for something better to come.

1803 Lydia Ourahmane 1

It is a subtle interaction that makes the seemingly empty space personal. My body is here, I can feel the effects and I will leave traces of my visit as I enter and leave pushing against the heavy silver oxidised doors, as with every visitor’s touch, slowly revealing the silver beneath.

1803 Lydia Ourahmane 2

Enjoyed an afternoon screening at LUX with Catalyst Arts presenting Looking Aside. Laura McMorrow’s The Lost Acre had a fragile materiality, creating unstable ground of the sort that might give way and open passages to other realms.

1803 Laura McMorrow

I knew we were in for a treat as Peter Glasgow was involved in the selection of films to compliment Seamus Harahan’s BL CK B X exhibition: shiny wet stones.

Fred Butler Harmonics in Space was not quite the zen experience I had been expecting. There was certainly a lot of energy going on at the private view.

 

And as Laban states ‘Matter itself is a compound of vibrations’ 

1803 video still 6

 

 

More excellent news is that I have been accepted as one of the Open Door Residency Artists for the BEYOND project run by Allenheads Contemporary Arts to take advantage of its new on-site astronomical observatory and to consider the word BEYOND as an open ended starting point for discussion.

The timing is perfect as I am about to begin my Chisenhale Studio4 Residency where I will have a large space to develop ideas from this experience that build on my current research looking at cosmic particles, the shape of the universe and the philosophies and mythologies that first attempted to understand the cosmos and relate its vastness to the human experience.

1802 frozen galaxyI spent a wonderful weekend with 12 artists enjoying perfect moon gazing weather in the dark skies of Northumberland, seeing galaxies in frozen puddles, plunging into the darkness of the forest or the inflatable planetarium and discussing ideas generated as we shared our own interests and observations.

 

1802 forest

I am thinking about what stories might be told if our ancient eyes had reached beyond those points marked out on the first star charts. Maybe Atlas would have had more daughters. Hopefully with the help of the brilliant open source planetarium Stellarium that we were introduced to I can add another layer of narrative.

From my vantage point on earth, the moon slides quietly, the stars twinkle through the atmosphere, satellites pass serenely by, but I know that just 15km above my head is a very violent place of high energy collisions as protons slam into our atmosphere, break apart and rain down, on and through me.

1802 Cloud chamber lightningThe opening paragraphs of The Power by Naomi Alderman prickle with the power they describe

“The shape of power is always the same; it is the shape of a tree…branching and re-branching…the outline of a living thing …the shape of rivers leading to the ocean…the shape that lightning forms…the shape that electricity wants to take is that of a living thing .. this same shape grows within us …power travels in the same manner between people..”

A brilliant novel. Shifts perspective to reflect the world back at us to shine the light on some uncomfortable truths.

A fascinating book to help understand the activity of matter is The Particle Zoo: The Search for the Fundamental Nature of Reality by Gavin Hesketh. I got this book to learn about the characters of the 12 fundamental particles and the forces that they interact with. It presents an unseen world of spinning, colour changing oppositely charged partners, repelling, attracting, sticking together, passing messages or passing straight through each other; releasing and absorbing energy in constant activity. Out of this melee which appears, once you get to the smallest scale, to be made of nothing but points of energy all things are formed.

1802 muon

I have been reading this in tandem with Stephen Fry’s reworking of the Greek Myths – Mythos. Just as improbable.

1802 parthenon

Captivating performance storyteller Ben Haggarty brought to exquisite and gory life three retextured Greek Myths under the banner The Fate We Bring Ourselves – decisions have consequences at the Crick Crack Club event Myths Retold at the British Museum. He spoke afterwards about the intimate space of the darkened circle that forms around the storyteller where each audience member feels personally addressed.

1802 Ben Haggerty

Mythological thinking looks at the whole – the micro and the macro and sees commonality.

The New Materialisms reading group that I have been a mostly absent member of is currently reading Donna Haraway Tentacular Thinking: Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Chthulucene

 

1802 Donna Haraway

Donna Haraway: Story Telling for Earthly Survival

 

Fabrizio Terranova’s film, screened at the LCC, brought the text to life with her infectious mix of enthusiasm, joy and bewilderment at the world and her passion for new ways of thinking. The director spent a few weeks with her and her aging dog Cayenne in their Southern California home, exploring their personal universe as well as the longer development of her views on kinship and planetary welfare. Animated by green screen projections, archival materials and fabulation he has created an enchanting insight into the mind of Donna Haraway.

 

1802 Bjorn Hatleskog

Bjorn Hatleskog Perpetual Jellyfish in Liminality at Gallery 46

 

“The tentacular are not disembodied figures; they are cnidarians, spiders, fingery beings like humans and raccoons, squid, jellyfish, neural extravaganzas, fibrous entities, flagellated beings, myofibril braids, matted and felted microbial and fungal tangles, probing creepers, swelling roots, reaching and climbing tendrilled ones. The tentacular are also nets and networks, it critters, in and out of clouds. Tentacularity is about life lived along lines — and such a wealth of lines — not at points, not in spheres.” Donna Haraway

Also ‘Staying with the Trouble’ and hoping for a positive collective future are London duo patten at Tenderpixel asking ‘how do we make it to 3049?’

1802 patten 3049 3

I had the pleasure of hearing Mark Dion talk about his work, love of systematics and the usefulness of taxonomies as tools of communication at Whitechapel Gallery on the opening day of his show Theatre of the Natural World.  Like Donna Haraway, he is concerned with extinctions, environmental exploitation and catastrophic interaction with other species and expressed a pessimistic resignation that our future is unlikely to be a positive one unless there are some radical changes.

1802 Mark Dion 1

1802 Mark Dion 2

Archaeology came with the Anthropocene.

1802 Mark Dion 3

His recreation of a Wunderkammer is another step in the journey for a collection of objects that were removed from their original environment, placed on display in a cabinet of wonders, then captured as drawings that were turned into engravings and then published in print.

1802 Mark Dion 5

Manually sculpting the objects using the limited information gleaned from the prints as a guide they are returned to 3D. Ghosts of the past losing clarity with each transformation.

1802 Mark Dion 4Looking at the aura of objects Secular Icons in an Age of Moral Uncertainty at Parafin questions the idea of art as a system of belief based around looking and valuing objects beyond their intrinsic materiality. Lower floor was closed when I visited so didn’t see everything. Though just contemplating the horrors associated with Indrė Šerpytytė’s giant lightbox totem constructed using the first blocks of colour that appear from the google search ‘Isis beheading’ was enough.

1802 Indre Serpytyte

Indrė Šerpytytė 2 Seconds of Colour

Hell on earth continues. Glenn Brown Come To Dust at Gagosian had some genuinely creepy offerings and an obsessive repetitiveness.

1802 Glenn Brown

I did find Let’s Make Love and Listen to Death from Above compelling despite its bleak vision. Hung at an angle to appear that the sky is indeed falling and it is not the heaven we wished for that is descending upon us.

 

1605 Mercator World Map 1569When paradise could not be mapped on the known land it was believed it must be on an island over the ocean. Dare to dream.

 

 

on my island none of this would be true  – a dynamic group show at the new Arebyte Gallery space on City Island curated by Chris Rawcliffe took its title from the last line of a poem called Security, written by Tom Chivers for his book Dark Islands (Test Centre, 2015).

1802 Tom Chivers Dark Islands

It was another chance to see Verity Birt’s Venus Anodyomene a spoken text and video work with Holly Graham and Richard Forbes-Hamilton.

1802 venus anadyomene.jpg

The rhythmic narrative evoking a slippy oozing layered earth world of geology, archaeology, lost time or excavated memories was enhanced by the boardwalk approach to the gallery in torrential rain alongside the exposed mudbed of the River Lea.

1802 Hannah Regal

Hannah Regal What Transpires in the Field of a Body That is the Base of Her

1802 Gery Georgieva

Gery Georgieva Europa Airlines Stand

 

“Again and again
we’re
expelled
from a garden
that never
existed” Ludwig Steinherr from Before the Invention of Paradise

What goes on in nature under our radar beautifully captured in Sam Laughlin’s series A Certain Movement as part of the Jerwood Photoworks Awards. Intimate moments and hidden processes lifted from nature with a quiet sensitivity.

 

1802 Sam Laughlin

Sam Laughlin from the series A Certain Movement

 

1802 Florence Trust

Visited Mayra Ganzinotti in the chilled and vaulted splendour of Florence Trust Winter Open Studios. Her beautiful work mixes crystal forms in geology with the body; rhythm and structure.

1802 Mayra Martin Ganzinotti.jpg

Mayra Martin Ganzinotti

Other exciting work and use of materials going on was from Amanda Baum and Rose Leahy

Unexpected juxtapositions offer new paths to tread.

A group of artists and writers, selected by Payne Shurvell, were each asked to respond to the same image either with a text or intervention directly over the image. 256 possible diptychs were created. New pairings are hung daily in random combinations pulled out of a hat. The Arca Project lets fate or coincidence decide the outcome the audience will experience depending on when they visit. The concept to present multiple readings of one event draws on the ethos of W. G. Sebald who revelled in mixing things up.

1802 TonyGrisoni StephGoodger

I only had time for a brief visit to Liminality [The Unknown] at Gallery 46 which was a shame as I think I missed some good things. But I did see the delicate and fluid interpretations of sound technology diagrams by Mary Yacoob

1802 Mary Yacoob

Mary Yacoob Draft Drawings

also her meticulous ‘Seraphim for Sanctus’ inspired by a choral score for ‘Sanctus’ and the prophet Isaiah’s visionary six-winged angels.

1802 Mary Yacoob 2

Mary Yacoob ‘Seraphim for Sanctus’ detail

I have been contemplating the circling angels of the Empyrean that dazzled Dante when he reached the final sphere of heaven. It might be the first time I have really thought about an angel as an other being/species not just a good human with wings.

1802 Empyrean Gustave Dore.jpg

Gustave Doré The Divine Comedy’s Empyrean

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New year fresh start. Laboratory of Dark Matters evaluation reports submitted. Now to build on my research from the last year. Time to put up the dark tent again and get the cloud chamber running to take some more controlled footage for use in an immersive installation. Excited to be experimenting with video projections, lenses and different media to project onto to ‘capture’ the particles.

1712 Lens layer.jpg

Sun Factor jostling for space at a busy Atom Gallery private view of Tomorrow’s World where most visions of the future appear dystopian or apocalyptic.

1712 Atom Gallery PV.jpg

The backstory to this work begins with a holiday to Sardinia and the day trip salesman’s  insistence the island bay he proposes taking us to – it’s paradise, it’s paradise … well how could we refuse. It turned out we were to be cast ashore for hours on a tiny strip of sand with no shade, no escape and a sea swarming with tiny stinging jellyfish. A concrete obelisk stood over the blistering bodies; once ancient sun worshippers built these capped with gold to shine like beacons celebrating the power of Ra the sun god. Modern sun worshippers have their own rituals, laying under a hot ball of gas so massive and so hot it has been active for 4.5 billion years yet it will be another 4.5 billion years before it will expand into a red giant, vaporize the earth and explode.

On a rather grander scale was ( my past RCA tutor) David Blandy’s The End of the World at Seventeen Gallery.

1712 David Blandy 2

Designed for solo viewing, a single seat faces the enormity of space. You become the lonely astronaut gazing down on a faraway world, at once familiar and distant. The voiceover poignantly recounts what is being lost; spanning perspectives, the micro and macrocosm of life, imagined, virtual and real. When the end is in sight senses are heightened.

1712 David Blandy 4

Touched to hear that David thought of me when making the High Definition series splicing microchips, crystals, nebulae and rock formations into stars which appear 3D until you approach more closely and then they flatten. Heptagrams (seven point stars)share Christian and pagan symbolism, they can represent the seven days of creation, the perfection of god and the seven planets which were known to ancient alchemists.

1712 David Blandy 3

The installation HD LIfestyle also plays with the illusion of surface and the material cost of being able to pass through the screen to an ever more real and immersive experience on the other side. The wares are on display. The images sweep us forward. It would be hard to stop.

1712 David Blandy 1

Thomas Ruff at Whitechapel Gallery. He is big on scale, control and appropriation.  I was struck by the regularity and precision of the white dot of light reflection in each of the portrait models eyes.1712 Thomas RuffThe Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter launched 2005 recorded topography, water related minerals and climate using an imaging spectrometer, context camera and mars colour imager transmitted as radio signals to be translated into images.

1712 Thomas Ruff 3D

Thomas Ruff ma.r.s. 

SPACE/London Creative Network Showcase – showing works in progress as part of an ongoing exploration of new technologies employed within art practice.

Catriona Leahy uses laser-cutting technology to etch delicate capillaries onto marble to articulate a sense of fragmentation and the scarring of  manmade intervention in the form of land drainage found in Dutch and Belgian post industrial landscapes.

171124 space LCN Catriona Leahy

Catriona Leahy Percolation Test

Always drawn to the perpendicular – the standing stones. I enjoyed Ben Branagan’s legacy of the built environment captured in totems made from building site aggregates.

1712 space LCN Ben Branagan

Ben Branagan Hardcore Colonnade

Next door was the satisfyingly ritual space of BearMotherhouse a collaboration of Fourthland, an artist collective, with Xenia a group that brings geographically displaced women together with local communities for friendship and integration through creativity. A quote from the accompanying essay by Alberto Duman addressing the cosmological connections and mythologies of the objects that ‘ speak of the degrees of interconnectedness beyond human knowing and the evocation of powerful figures such as the Bear and the Mother that oversee and mesmerise this house’s proceedings

1712 Fouthland with Xenia

Cryptic exhibition at The Crypt Gallery, St Pancras Church examines the relationship between art, science and technology. Lisa Pettibone explores matter and form through the manipulation of one template and the forces applied to alter its appearance.

1712 cryptic lisa pettiborne

Lisa Pettibone Apeiron 01_02_03

Pentagon envy.

1712 Cryptic Bekk Wells

Bekk Wells Elements

Imagining CERN event at CSM presented the results of creative collisions between interdisciplinary art and particle physics.  MA Art and Science students got to visit CERN, collaborate with scientists and make work in response.

1712 CSM imagining CERN exhibition

Gavin Hesketh was here to talk about his work at CERN searching for new particles

1712 Gavin Hesketh

He had brought his cloud chamber along. First time I had seen someone else’s cloud chamber other than online. No dark tent here.

1712 CSM imagining CERN cloud chamber

In particle physics the closer you look the more similar things become,

when you get right down to the elementary particles there is no colour at this scale

 

 

What information could be stored in dark matter?

1711 The Forms.jpg

Before we could attempt an answer to this question we first had to decide what we meant by ‘information’.

The Dark Matter Day Discussion Group at UCL’s Institute of Education was a cross discipline event looking at three texts as catalysts to spark conversations about dark matter research, ideas of discovery, knowledge and materialisms.

Symmetry Magazine: The origins of dark matter.
From the primordial soup of the Big Bang to freeze-out and the WIMP miracle.

Chantal Faust: Dark Matters  – a specially commissioned essay for Laboratory of Dark Matters

Kader Attia: The Loop
Planetary Computing (Is the Universe Actually a Gigantic Computer?)

Creation, transition, destruction, decay. Matter is constantly regenerated. Our perception of broken is negative. Information is not ‘lost’ but released and absorbed.

Turning to Carlo Rovelli for an insight; The word ‘information’ is highly ambiguous being used in a variety of contexts from mental and semantic (“the information stored in your USB is comprehensible”) to mathematically quantifiable  (“the information stored in your USB is 32 Gigabytes”). There is physical information which is based on correlation that adheres to the laws of physics and meaningful information that leads to intentionality, agency, purpose and function. Physics is not a science about how the world is: it is a science of how the world can be.

We questioned if we have lost ancient knowledge and ways of understanding. Our senses are capped but it is possible to gain enhanced consciousness through forms of meditation and how is this experienced?

Further reading to explore perceptions of reality, self awareness and consciousness; David Bohm On Creativity and with Bryan Hiley The Undivided Universe: An Ontological Interpretation of Quantum Theory.

1710 The Publications

Two publications were also launched.

Laboratory of Dark Matters – a project overview publication with an introduction to Dark Matter and Boulby Underground Laboratory and contributions from participating artists. Daniel Clark, Luci Eldridge, Susan Eyre, Kate Fahey, Amy Gear, Sarah Gillett, Peter Glasgow, Robert Good, Melanie King and Elizabeth Murton.

Also an artist edition of the insightful poetic essay from Chantal Faust with layout designed by Daniel Clark to reflect the challenge of negotiating dark matter.

1711 Publication essay

Many events were scheduled to mark the newly established Dark Matter Day which the STFC decided should share the date with Halloween.

The Royal Astronomical Society hosted a symposium convened by chair of the Dark Matter UK (DMUK) Consortium, Dr Chamkaur Ghag (UCL). Understanding the nature of Dark Matter is one of the most important scientific missions of our time. UK researchers are at the forefront of Dark Matter research: modelling its impact on cosmology in N-body simulations; mapping its distribution with weak lensing studies; seeking direct detection in highly sensitive detectors buried deep underground; searching for signatures of Dark Matter annihilations in space; and even trying to produce some new Dark Matter at the LHC. The afternoon’s speakers were Dr Andrew Pontzen (UCL) on Dark Matter in the Cosmos, Prof. Henrique Araujo (Imperial College London) on Searching for Dark Matter, Prof. Jocelyn Monroe (Royal Holloway University of London) on Global Impact from Dark Matter Research and Prof. Malcolm Fairbairn (King’s College London) on Theories of Dark Matter.

1711 Royal Astronomical Society (1).jpg

Following the inspiring project proposal judging dinner with Yinka Shonibare, when difficult decisions were made, the successful proposals for Guest Projects 2018 have been announced. Having been a part of the process I am excited for all the groups and anticipating some excellent projects.

1711 Guest Projects.jpg

Ugly Duck “Ways of Sensing” talk during the “Making It Real” festival explored the intersection of analogue and digital technologies.

The speakers were Lewis Bush and Levin Haegele  who use spectrographic, infrared and satellite technologies to process alternative ways of capturing information.

Levin Haegele sounds like an a very useful person to know. His mission is to realise the impossible dreams of artists. He also converts cameras to shoot in infra red and ultra violet.

 

1711 Levin Haegele flatfordmill21200

Levin Haegele shot with converted IR camera

 

Lewis Bush spies on international spy networks listening in to their coded messages, plotting their signal origins and collaging together complex satellite maps of remote terrains.

 

1711 Lewis Bush spectrum-3-HM01

Lewis Bush from Shadows of the State

 

Night time visit to Vitrine showing THE ONLYES POWER IS NO POWER from Wil Murray.

1711 Wil Murray

Swirling and mutating, the image origins are echoes of locations where his family circus performed that were also the locations of “balloon bomb” strikes. The seasons marking time, summer and winter negatives overlaid and partially obscured with painted brush strokes. Painting out of history or the subconscious.

How information is lost or passed on is addressed in Blade Runner 2049 set in a dystopian future coping with a catastrophic digital data wipe leaving a gap in history.

1711 Blade Runner 2049

A short visit to Everything At Once at Store Studios, curated by Greg Hilty and Ossian Ward  for Lisson Gallery in collaboration with The Vinyl Factory.

Despite his rather selfish egotistical patenting of Vanta Black I have to admit Anish Kapoor makes visually intriguing works.

 

1711 Anish Kapoor 1

Anish Kapoor At The Edge of the World II

 

 

1711 Ai Weiwei.jpg

Ai Weiwei Iron Tree Trunk

 

1711 Dan Graham 1.jpg

Dan Graham Two V’s Entrance-Way

 

1711 Rodney Graham Vexation Island

Rodney Graham Vexation Island (still)

 

1711 Allora and Calzadilla

Allora and Calzadilla Solar Catastrophe

Alma Thomas showing in Soul of a Nation at Tate Modern. (At 80 was the first African American woman to have a solo show at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1972.)Fascinated by the space age she followed daily reports of NASA’s Mariner 9 mission to photograph Mars. Huge dust storms on the planet prevented images from being relayed back to earth but inspired her to make this work.

2011 Alma Thomas

Alma Thomas Mars Dust (detail)

Ilya and Emilia Kabakov Not Everyone Will Be Taken Into The Future

1711 Ilya and Emilia Kabakov 2

Great title – Not Everyone Will Be Taken Into The Future, for me conjures an image of the time when we have to leave this planet for some new home and there are only a few spaces available on the spaceship, though really it is talking about being remembered, having a legacy that lives on.

1711 Ilya and Emilia Kabakov

Human engagement for the storage of information in opposition to death cannot be measured with the same scales used by the natural scientist. Carbon-dating tests measure the natural time according to the information loss of specific radioactive atoms. However, the artificial time of human freedom (“historical time”) cannot be measured by simply turning carbon-dating formulas around, so that they now measure the accumulation of information.” Vilém Flusser

Sam Hodge created an atmospheric immersive experience at The Crypt Gallery, Kings Cross for White Noise, a collective that presents works investigating a world filled with omnipresent background noise, explorations of ‘seeing the unseen’, ‘zones of indiscernibility’ and the ‘indeterminate’, and the freedom of the imagination to fill the void.

1711 Sam Hodge Vibrant Matter 1.jpg

Sam Hodge Vibrant Matter

“The Sun, the Moon, the Earth and its contents are material to form greater things, that is, ethereal things – greater things than the Creator himself has made” John Keats, 1817

The Live Creature and Ethereal Things  excellent discussion event at Arts Catalyst initiated by  Fiona Crisp as part of her ongoing research project Material Sight of non-documentary photography and video to interrogate extremes of visual and imaginative representation in fundamental science and technology. She has also visited Boulby Mine.

 

1711 Fiona CRISP Pump Lodge

Fiona Crisp Pump Lodge (from Boulby Series, Subterrania)

 

Participants included Tara Shears, Suchitra Sebastian talking about emergent particles and new states of matter that require new language to describe, Nahum Mantra demonstrating the Theremin and talking about mesmerism and invisible forces and arts Catalyst director Nicola Triscott. How to make big science more intimate.

Tara Shears clarity on the structure of the universe containing just 12 ingredients (quarks and leptons) held by 4 fundamental forces brought home a happy analogy for me with the 12 sided dodecahedron Plato’s representative shape of the universe.

1711 Diazographo

This has prompted me to look closer at Dante’s cosmology as a description of a finite universe, now known as the 3-sphere universe.

I am enjoying making intuitive connections to link the attributes of each heavenly sphere with those of the quarks and leptons. inspired by mythology going back to my reaction when I first came across the seemingly autological names of the quarks and leptons. Up Quark would be the Empyrean and Down Quark earthly paradise and the plucky Muon who appears in my cloud chamber takes Mars for Virtues and courage.

1711 cosmic trail

Fiona Crisp warned against the dangers of art and science collaborations instrumentalising each other. Her work attempts to present an image to be viewed without trying to extract knowledge as in documentation. To evoke time, distance and scale yet create an intimacy of looking and embracing productive doubt.

“Both those taking snaps and documentary photographers, however, have not understood ‘information.’ What they produce are camera memories, not information, and the better they do it, the more they prove the victory of the camera over the human being.” Vilém Flusser

Following Fiona Crisp’s research into sharing knowledge combined with the act of making. ‘Origami-Folding the Local Universe’.   I learnt of the Council of Giants, a ring of 12 large galaxies surrounding the Local Group of which our milky way is a member, in the Local Sheet (where nearby galaxies share a similar velocity). Another key 12 to consider.

1711 council of giants

 

Two everydaymatters circles showing at Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair with Thames-side Studios.

1711 Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair

everydaymatters (Paradise Passage #1 N7) sold

1710 everydaymatters (paradise passage #1 N7)

Back in the studio I pulled out some work I started a long while ago but never finished. Avondale Rialto is from when I was looking at the exotic names given to the prosaic caravan, when escape is an ideal never realised. It ties in with the idea of a paradise to be found. I may do some more work with this.

1711 avondale rialto

Below the pavements and around the foundations of the City’s offices lies a layer of Dark Earth: the debris from the collapse and decay of lost centuries including that of Roman London. Powered by wiretapper, Dark Earth audio experience led us from a secret rendezvous to the underground ruins of a Roman house via a rambling narrative attempting to create a steamy atmosphere appropriate to a bath house and pill (tic tac) popping time travel back to a civilisation teetering on the edge of its downfall.

1711 billingsgate bath house.jpg

“Human engagement for the storage of information in opposition to death cannot be measured with the same scales used by the natural scientist. Carbon-dating tests measure the natural time according to the information loss of specific radioactive atoms. However, the artificial time of human freedom (“historical time”) cannot be measured by simply turning carbon-dating formulas around, so that they now measure the accumulation of information.” Vilém Flusser

The duly received wordpress pre posting sharing alert –  ‘a broken connection requires repair’ takes on new significance after our dark matter day discussions.

‘The omnipresence of repair in the universe is without a doubt the sole reason it is shared by both mathematics and art. It is a primary characteristic of human biological and cultural evolution. Without the process of repair, there would be nothing — neither chaos nor stability. Everything is guided by the determinist agency of repair.’ Kader Attia

 

The end of summer. Time for Laboratory of Dark Matters take down at Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum.

1710 The Forms

During the six week exhibition and many trips to the north east where we were made so welcome I became very fond of all those involved at the museum and the dramatic backdrop of the North Yorkshire coastline. Sad to pack the work away and leave.

1710 Diazôgraphô

Boulby Mine became a familiar sight and distinct reminder of the surreal journey underground and project conception over a year ago.

1710 Boulby Mine

It was a genuine coming together of disciplines and communities which I think we all gained from. Pinning my hopes for the future on similar undertakings.

1710 CIMM and EU nostalgia

 

We are better together.

 

 

 

Straight onto making new work for Deptford X Fringe show Supposedly Predictable Phenomena with [ALLOY] artists.

1710 etching plates

Etching 12 plates, then screen printing the centre circles as 4 colour separations. The printed images are from crystal ball photographs taken out in the woods.

1710 screenprint over etch

A portal for the imagination as well as a folding in of space.

1710 screenprint on aluminium

Meanwhile I was invited by The Institute of Physics to speak at the INTERACT conference in Birmingham. I was able to participate in some interesting workshops alongside the physicists  and listen to Jim Al-Khalili and Alice Roberts in conversation about the shifting perspective of the academic world in relation to public outreach and the role of women in the sciences.

I was introduced to The Planeterrella, an incredible artificial demonstration of the Northern Lights. The aurorae are created by charged particles from the Sun travelling along the Earth’s magnetic field lines and exciting our atmosphere.

1710 Planeterrella

In this experiment most of the air is sucked out of a glass chamber to recreate the conditions about 100km up in the Earth’s atmosphere. The large sphere represents the sun and the small sphere the Earth which contains a very strong magnet to represent its magnetic field. A voltage is sent from the Sun to the Earth to recreate the solar wind which excites the electrons in the field enough to give off light at characteristic frequencies.

1710 Planeterrella 2

Listened to Gravitational Waves

1710 Gravitational Waves

and picked up a useful leaflet on cosmic rays which were first discovered by Victor Hess in 1912 using an electroscope to measure ionising radiation in the atmosphere 5300 metres up in a hot air balloon. The higher up the higher the radiation therefore the effect must be caused by something extra-terrestrial.

1710 Victor Hess

One high energy primary cosmic ray gives rise to a cascading shower of secondary particles that scatter across the earth, colliding and decaying in a constant stream. Mostly passing straight through us and the matter around us but sometimes there will be a direct hit at a subatomic level from a particle having travelled from outside our galaxy.  1704 Cosmic Trail 3

Lizzie Cannon ‘Liminal Matter’ at The University of Greenwich explored the constantly shifting dynamic of the shore and its material.  Through the process of art-making, critical reflection and dialogue; this exhibition continues Lizzie’s research to address questions around human and nonhuman agency, temporal and spatial flows of matter and meaning, and an ontological fluidity that allows for an understanding of materiality as a reciprocal and generative relationship between humans and environment.

1710 Lizzie Cannon In Transition Detail 1

Lizzie Cannon detail of the mighty In transition

Wandered the set at South London Gallery of Tom Phillips IRMA: An Opera Opus XIIB. This 1969 mini opera was drawn from Tom Phillips magnum opus which was in turn born from an idea that he would alter every page of the first book he came across for 3d. W H Mallock’s 1892 novel A Human Document thus became A Humument. 

1710 Tom Phillips

1710 Tom Philips Humument.jpg

Further wanderings during London Open House weekend led to the architectural hybrid of Lloyd’s Register.

1710 Lloyds Register Open House

Hidden within the Richard Rogers glass and steel is Collcutt’s palazzo with grand marble staircase leading to the ornate General Committee Landing dominated by The Spirit of Maritime Commerce 

1710 Spirit of Maritime Commerce

and the bronze frieze sculpted by Frank Lynn Jenkins, inlaid with silver, mother of pearl, turquoise, coral and pearl.

1710 Lloyds Register Bronze Frieze 2

1710 Lloyds Register bronze Frieze

The landing opens onto the Italianate opulence of general committee room with its barrel vaulted ceiling and more exposed left breasts of various symbolic maidens

1710 Night

Lloyd’s Register was founded in 1760 in Lloyd’s Coffee House as a means of registering the seaworthiness of wooden commercial ships sailing from British ports. An attempt to plan and predict.

A tight turnaround from ideas, to making work, to installation of Supposedly Predictable Phenomena at no format Gallery in time for Deptford X.

Very happy to be showing alongside Jessie Sheffield and Lauren Ilsley. 1710 SPP 8

This was new work that investigates the themes of sequence and consequence

1710 SPP

Contained Nascent
Acrylic, wood, water, powdered minerals.
Lauren Ilsley, 2017

Apparently linear processes, psychological and physical, are rendered unpredictable and essentially chaotic due to their inherent and entangled sensitivity.

‘Supposedly predictable phenomena’ relates to the concept that if all contributing factors could be mapped and understood, then the outcome, theoretically, should be predictable.

1710 Jessie Sheffield

FixPoint 36
Steel mesh, wood, acrylic.
Jessie Sheffield, 2017

The results of this is a calculable universe and suggests a trajectory that is not only logical but also predetermined.

1710 SPP 2

Tools for Transition
Ceramic, aluminium, wood.
Lauren Ilsley, 2017

This raises the question of the alternative – Chaos Theory, and in turn free will.

1710 SPP 7

Duodecimēns
Etched aluminium, screen print. 12 pieces.
Susan Eyre, 2017

Duodeci – 12    mēns – minds……or Twelve thoughts, one from each multiverse

1710 ssp exhibition

no format gallery space worked well for us, if slightly on the edge of the festival bounds. It faces onto Propeller Foundry with 4 floors of artist studios many of which invoke studio envy with their big windows and vast spaces. Found a few old friends in here. There was some opportunity to head out to see some of the other work on show around Deptford.

Ambient Occlusion was another excellent curation at Gossamer Fog. Muted as the first step towards the synthesis of human and computer, the attraction of virtual reality evident by the queues to experience Jakob Kudsk Steensen’s Terractic Animism. It was terrific. Hyper-real. Which cannot be conveyed in this image or the Vimeo link demo.

1710 Jakob Kudsk Steensen

Other mesmerising work was Alan Warburton’s 3 channel video Primitives

1710 Alan Warburton primitives

and Katriona Beales video with mixed media Working Table II

1710 Katriona Beales (1)

Bearspace was showing Bella Easton Breath

1710 Bella Easton

colours slipping from muted to monochrome, an enveloping tangle pieced from oil painted linen still scented with the mediums of its construction.

In the bare bones of St Paul’s House Tom Ireland placed three screens showing voyages across the sea or the galaxies. The Heavens (Deptford Observatory) places the local dockyards and observatory at the centre of the universe from which we embark.

1710 tom Ireland.jpg

New Scientist Live 2017

1710 naked molerats.jpg

Best thing I saw in some ways was these extraordinary fanged tubes of flesh that hold the clues to longevity but I did feel for them being thrust under the spotlight. Exposed. Naked indeed.

 

1709 CIMM exhibition 1Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum exhibition brought work created for Guest Projects residency into a very different space, reinventing and presenting it in new ways.

1709 diazographoDiazôgraphô – (Wood, acrylic, digital print) has been reworked since Guest Projects. You can still see through it, but it is more reflecting; you and your surroundings are echoed in it and so it appears you are both surrounded by and surrounding the same space.

 

1709 diazographo 1

Using the dodecahedron as a motif for the universe I like this quality that draws on Dante’s description of the universe as concentric circles; that the very outer circles also appear to be enclosed by the inner circles and the relationship that this enfolding space has to a 3-sphere and Poincaré dodecahedral space. Plato described the dodecahedron as ‘a fifth construction, which the god used for embroidering the constellations on the whole heaven ’  so it works as a metaphor for dark matter too – a phenomena that binds the galaxies together.

1709 The Forms
The Forms – (Etched aluminium) Installed in a new configuration here as a net that together would build a dodecahedron. In scientific visualisations of dark matter we see familiar organic patterns emerge; the fronds of dark matter spanning galaxies could be the spreading branches of trees or the veins under our skin. The realm of abstract thought Plato called The Forms is where ideals reside, outside the limitations of the physical world and where, if anywhere, paradise might be found.

Some work by the other Laboratory of Dark Matter artists was new, some reworked or given new context

1709 CIMM exhibition 2

Amy Gear Nudge – (Painting on unstretched canvas)  Reflecting on video footage from a Women’s Self Defence and Green Screen Workshop run in collaboration with martial arts expert Jiff Higman, the work employs the body as a tool to help describe the incomprehensible notion that only 5% of the universe is visible to us; the bodily contact through self-defence actions related to the contact scientists are hoping for when a dark matter particle ‘nudges’ the nucleus of the target element (Xenon) and causes a recoil that can be recorded.

1709 Elizabeth Murton

Elizabeth Murton Connective Matter #3 – (Porcelain paper clay, LED lights, wire, yarn), a new site specific iteration in a series creating a connective web of black yarn and illuminated ceramic objects made by spinning clay, like the spinning which forms planets, stars and galaxies from the matter of the universe. We cannot see dark matter directly, only infer it indirectly from observations such as the spin of the galaxies and gravitational lensing and so must speculate its structure and role in the universe.

1709 CIMM exhibition 3

KATE FAHEY Optimistic – (Copper and resin); Dark Adaptation – (Digital video with two channel audio) calling on lost lore and old forms of knowledge to negotiate technology and scientific advancement, the work seeks to establish a speculative relationship between dark matter, dark adaptation, the lectures of Rudolf Steiner on the practice of divining and John Carpenter’s film They Live, where the main character discovers sunglasses that reveal an alternative reality.  Dark adaptation refers to the ability of the eye to adjust to various levels of darkness and light.

1709 Daniel Clark.jpg

Daniel Clark Projected Chamber – (Giclée print) describes a potential space, a chamber that exists only through a distortion of light captured at the moment of creation.

1709 CIMM EXH.

Veil – (Pigment on archival polyester) examines ways of visualising or mapping the invisible and the transference of imagery from intriguing and unexplained sources. A vinyl cutting machine was programmed to draw with a marker pen instead of to cut, reimagining the single line engraving of the Face of Christ, known as the Sudarium of Saint Veronica, by Claude Mellan from 1649.

1709 Luci Eldridge

Luci Eldridge Untitled (Dark Matter, Reconstructed) – (3D print with silver leaf, privacy screen filter) In 2007, a group of NASA and ESA scientists led by Richard Massey constructed a three-dimensional map offering the first look at the web-like distribution of dark matter in the universe. This 3D model reassembles this data to present the invisible as a cluster of abstract forms. The intangible is objectified as a collection of shiny entities reminiscent of early sci-fi aesthetics.
Germanium Fragments I-VI – (Duotone photo-lithographs) Germanium is one of the elements often used in the detection of dark matter. The lithographs depict tiny fragments of this lustrous grey metalloid, the surfaces reflecting the dazzling lights of the scanner bed on which they were imaged. Combined, the prints and 3D model play with limits of visibility, the boundaries between surface and depth and the loss of any kind of sense of scale.

1709 Melanie King

Melanie King Cosmic Ray Oscillograph – (Phosphorescent spinning disc, solenoid, laser, data from LUX video credit: Euan James-Richards) A laser light is sporadically jolted across a rotating disc coated in phosphorescence by a solenoid translating wave form data captured from the Large Underground Xenon Dark Matter detector. The data is transformed to an audio signal using computer coding techniques and represents cosmic rays which have been detected along the way towards finding elusive dark matter. Cosmic Ray Oscillograph, Cameraless Photograph uses direct laser light onto Ilford Multigrade Resin Coated Paper Pearl.

1709 Sarah Gillett

Sarah Gillett The Case of the Gold Ring (research mapping wall) plots the discoveries made while tracing the history of her Mother’s gold ring; it’s unique personal journey as well as it’s cosmic origins. The ring becomes much more than a circle of gold as connections are made across space and time, from the boxing ring to the financial bullring and the asteroid belt.

1709 Peter Glasgow

Peter Glasgow The Indicators of Illusive Ideas – (Audio and text) frames itself as an attempted commentary, and plays with the notion of producing a commentary on something in the world. It’s about language, and format, and ways of stringing ideas together. It finds a narrative about art practice within another narrative from popular culture, speculating on making in terms of loyalty and legitimacy. It is a contemplation on the commentaries that run alongside a process; the attempts to get close to something but failing.

1709 Robert Good

Robert Good How To Know The Starry Heavens – (Text fragments) Selected text snippets from Edward Irving’s book of the same name are set on a vast dark backdrop to appear from a distance like a sparkling galaxy of stars but close up to spark our imagination with language full of wonder.1709 Cimm diazographo light

I was invited by the Institute of Physics to write a blog about Laboratory of Dark Matters  read it here –  IOP BLOG   …. The visit to Boulby Mine was a catalyst for us to develop new artworks reflecting our personal responses to dark matter research and the broader issues it touches upon…

1709 talks promo

As a satellite event to the exhibition at Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum we had additional sponsorship from the Institute of Physics to host an afternoon of talks at Whitby Museum as part of their summer sessions initiative to bring the arts and science together in a public forum. Emma Meehan from Boulby Underground Laboratory introduced a video tour of the facility led by Chris Toth who gave an entertaining and informative account of life 1100m below ground and the experiments that take place there.

Sara Gillett delivered her performative lecture ‘The Case of the Gold Ring’ that animates and coalesces her research presented in the exhibition and Dr Cham Ghag gave another of his incredible accessible lectures on what dark matter is not, what it might be and how it might be detected.

We were also joined by Dr Sarah Casey, artist collaborator in the brilliant project Dark Matters – Interrogating thresholds of (Im)perceptibility through Theoretical Cosmology, Fine Art & Anthropology of science,  an exciting study into radical imperceptibility or more specifically, the provocations and challenges presented to theoretical cosmology, fine art and anthropology of science, by entities, forces and dimensions that currently (or perhaps will always) exceed human and technological modes of sensing and comprehension.

1709 dark matters video

Encounters at the thresholds of human understanding, sensing, knowing, or the possibilities of relationship with the nonhuman – and the vulnerability and exhilaration that these cause – are intrinsic to the project’s methodology. On the one hand, claims from cosmology that 95% of the universe is made up of invisible dark matter and dark energy, or that it is possible to mathematically predict the existence of many more dimensions than we are aware of in our known and knowable universe, presents immediate challenges for all three disciplines as they play at the limits of sensibility and relationality with regards to human to nonhuman encounter. How to think and practice with these provocations? On the other hand a different set of challenges are inevitably posed by the complexities and endless possibilities for (mis)understandings by interdisciplinary conversation.

1709 Sarah Casey 1

Sarah Casey

For the theoretical cosmologist, when faced with the imperceptible, the imperative is to produce and contest evidence – to ultimately reveal the imperceptible or negotiate the status of the role of speculation. For the artist, the interest lies in interrogating thresholds between the seen and unseen, known, unknown and unknowable, through art practice to enable critical and poetic reflection. For the anthropologist, the category of the imperceptible provokes a questioning and further pushing of the limits of human subjectivity, experience and sensibility in relation to the inhumanly (un)manifest.

The excellent accompanying Dark Matters  video is deservedly shortlisted for the AHRC research film of the year.

A sensual treat while back in London was Wayne McGregor and Random International’s collaboration +/- Human at the Roundhouse. Extraordinary dancers and extraordinary machines. Uplifting. Disquieting.

1709 plus minus human

Laboratory of Dark Matters final event at Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum was the dark matters themed open day with dark matter life drawing in invisible ink…

1709 CIMM Open Day dark matter life drawing

…make a dark matter particle plane and fly it to hit the xenon nucleus target……

1709 xenon nucleus target

…tours of the exhibition…..

1709 CIMM Open Day gallery tour (2)

…Robert Good reading from Edward Irving’s 1905 book How To Know the Starry Heavens. He was also encouraging visitors on the day to write their own snippets for a group collage in reply to – What do you think about when you look up at the sky at night?

1709 Robert Good 2

Lots of other activities like Hunt the WIMPS where small shapes denoting particles that were not WIMPS were hidden around the museum site  –  these could be found because they were not WIMPS…

1709 CIMM Open Day Activitiy tent

….Chris Toth and Emma Meehan from Boulby Underground Laboratory were on hand to answer the science questions and help out with a dark matter quiz…

and a final chance to see cosmic particle trails in the cloud chamber.

1709 cloud chamber1709 cosmic trail

I met Jessie Sheffield and Lauren Ilsley during a cloud chamber workshop at Guest Projects. We subsequently found we shared interests in how we perceive the world around us and I was invited to join [ALLOY] in presenting new work for the exhibition Supposedly Predictable Phenomenon at no format Gallery as part of Deptford X.

Planning new work my first thoughts were naturally Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle and thinking about natural phenomena. The shape of a raindrop, bacteria, magnets, wind, water, electricity, bending light, bouncing photons, dark photons, optic boom, special relativity. I get fixated on the 12 sides of the universe and start mapping out a sequence of 12.

1708 studio test

My studio is too small. I think about decisions, prisms, scattered light. If I use steel I could use magnets. I don’t have time to etch plates and print them. I think about quantum leaps, band widths and atoms. Electrons appearing and disappearing. Moving between possible multiverses. Transforming in new configurations. Circling the nucleus. A portal. A panorama. A dopler shift. How to be random?  I throw ink soaked kitchen roll and mark the spot on twelve targets.

1709 random start points

I decide to use softground on aluminium – an unpredictable process

1709 applying softground

Charbonnel softground smells of woodsmoke. It feels right for autumn. I draw concentric circles into the wax

A satisfying peel

Nature echoing art again.

The etching process is full of rich colours and smells. Softground on aluminium in copper sulphate is a violent etch. The heat is palpable before I reach in to pull out the plate, the wax bubbles and the blue solution darkens and smokes; I pull the plate out when it feels that any longer, it might ignite

1709 etch process

it already feels cosmic

1709 removing stopout

Each plate takes a long day to prepare; sanding and degreasing, painstakingly rolling on the softground for an even coating , fixing the paper taught and drawing with enough pressure to imprint into the wax, peeling away the image with the paper and finally etching.

1709 peel and etch (1)

Aluminium has a grain that grabs any direct light and powers it into a bright band.  It seems to absorb and glow with any colour in the room. I really like this metal.

1709 test light on etch.jpg

 

1708 Boulby Mine

Time to return to the North East.

Amidst the preparations to take Laboratory of Dark Matters to Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum was the honour of being invited to sit on the judging panel for the Guest Projects residency proposals for next year. It was a big responsibility and involved quite a lot of hours reading through proposals but was also incredibly useful in understanding how to put together a successful proposal. In the end there just isn’t time to follow every link and read every nuance – it has to be clear and succinct. Was a real treat to have dinner with Yinka Shonibare and chat about why he decided to set up the residency program (- to give back and remain engaged, remembering why he became an artist in the first place) and to hear how he can cut through any nonsense in the proposals, he is looking for commitment, effort and originality and he has no truck with ‘men’s issues’. Was great fun and dinner was delicious.

1708 Yinka Shonibare

Another pleasure was receipt of the commissioned essay responding to the ideas that surfaced during Laboratory of Dark Matters from Chantal Faust. It is a text that can be read over and over and keep giving. It will be published to coincide with international Dark Matter Day on 31st October in an original layout by Daniel Clark.

1708 publication

Having secured funding from the IOP and STFC we were able to install the exhibition at Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum in July just in time for the tourists visiting over the summer holidays. This is where the funding we received really helped,  covering our transport and accommodation costs, artwork materials, printing and general installation. It was also good to be able to pay artist fees, enabling artists who work freelance and do not have regular salaried income or research grants to be able to participate.

Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum were excited by the prospect of hosting an exhibition on dark matter and the local connections to Boulby Mine just 8 miles up the road.

1708 CIMM

We were met by real warmth and a can do attitude from everyone at the museum. This was the first time they had hosted an exhibition of contemporary art and we were away from our usual networks of support and infrastructure so it was a learning curve for us all.

One of the main challenges for us working in a remote location was travelling and forward planning to have everything we needed when we got there. We had to rely heavily on the museum for marketing and preparations for our visit. We were very lucky to be hosted by a venue that offered us so much support – they totally transformed this room ready for us to install our artworks

1708 CIMM before

We rented a cottage in the local village of Hinderwell, which coincided with their scarecrow festival, while we were spending time at the museum installing work.

1708 Hinderwell Scarecrow

Artist Robert Good joined us at the mining museum to present an ambitious installation – How To Know The Starry Heavens  – a billboard sized collage of text snippets selected from Edward Irving’s book of the same name written in 1905.1708 Robert Good Installing

Elizabeth Murton installed a new site specific iteration of Connective Matter #3, a web of black yarn and illuminated ceramic objects made by spinning clay, like the spinning which forms planets, stars and galaxies from the matter of the universe.

1708 Elizabeth Murton installing

I tried a new configuration of The Forms in a dodecahedron net formation over the stairwell.

1708 CIMM install The Forms plan

Mapping out the universe/

1708 CIMM install The Forms

/mapping out the exhibition space

1708 CIMM installation in progress

1708 CIMM installation in progress 2

We made a visit to meet the excellent team at Whitby Museum in preparation for the afternoon of talks we were planning as part of the Institute of Physics Summer Sessions initiative.

1708 Whitby Museum

Our Private View was very well attended by people local to the mining museum, the Board of  Trustees including Vice-Chair Fr. Adam Gaunt and even Mr Barry Dodd CBE Lord-Lieutenant of North Yorkshire who gave a speech commending the museum on their enterprise and promising to mention his visit in his report to the Queen.

1708 Private View

Boulby Underground Laboratory was well represented by scientists Chris Toth and Emma Meehan. The last time we met was over a year ago and 1100m underground.

1708 CIMM PV

We ran a series of workshops developed from those at Guest Projects. We wanted our workshops to be grounded in science and to also have a creative element. Thinking about different ways of making the invisible visible, the cloud chamber workshop was a good way of showing the activity of particles around us that we are unaware of until we see the trails they leave as they pass through and around us as they hurtle across our world.

1708 CIMM Cloud Chamber

I don’t think we experienced the same level of  particle activity as we did in London and I’m not sure why that was. The cloud chamber gives us a glimpse into the invisible world of particles produced in the radioactive decay of naturally occurring elements and those generated when cosmic rays strike the top of the Earth’s atmosphere.

1708 cosmic trail

Melanie King ran more of her illuminating workshops expanding on her Cosmic Ray Oscillograph ideas explored in the exhibition, allowing participants to experiment with phosphorescent powder and laser lights.

Events were underway….

1708 dry ice

 

 

 

During the hiatus between the Laboratory of Dark Matters Guest Projects residency and installing at Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum was a chance to test out installation options and visit a few events.

1707 cloud chamber

Euan James-Richards created a great video for our residency at Guest Projects- view Laboratory Of Dark Matters video here.

There are a few alternative options for a dodecahedron net – this was my favourite.

1707 dodecahedron net

Connecting dark matter

1707 test The Forms

Testing in my studio which had turned into an unventilated sauna that day

1706 test The Forms 3

Heat is what makes it impossible to time travel backwards. I think. Though applying heat (200°C) to the plates again made the disperse colours that had vanished reappear………………temporarily

1707 heatpress colours reappear

Always the unexpected outcome.

1707 Minute Bodies

A real treat at the Barbican was a live accompaniment by Tindersticks to the exploratory science films made in the early 1900’s by F. Percy Smith, naturalist, inventor and documentarist. Link here- Soundtrack from documentary “Minute Bodies: The Intimate World of F. Percy Smith” (2016) by Stuart A. Staples.

In his house in Southgate, the ex-goverment clerk Percy Smith films the life stories of hundreds of rare plants

As soon as I saw this documentation I knew I would like Oliver Beer.

1707 Oliver Beer 1

Is it bad to always think – oh this reminds me of… well this reminded me of Mark Leckey – The Universal Addressability of Dumb Things

1707 Oliver Beer 2

except these artefacts sang out, resonating with the air vibrating through their hollow forms

but it was still an interrogation of a collection of objects, squeezing out an essence/aura.

Then there was the building itself – Galerie Thaddeus Ropac – it’s space mapped through sound – the singers slamming their voices into the corners which threw them back, rising and echoing off the walls, harmonising to a crescendo until every inch of space vibrated

and there was no air left to breathe that wasn’t full of sound,  it was incredibly beautiful and absorbing. Also from the inside  out – an ear trumpet to the world beyond1707 Oliver Beer 5

street noises magnified

1707 Oliver Beer 6

Another sound experience was KlangHaus 800 Breaths at the South Bank Centre. More in earnest. More theatre.

1707 Klanghaus

Great to be escorted through the otherwise out of bounds roof spaces and enjoy the mash up of film projections and live music played LOUD amid the galvanised steel ducting and ventilation systems.

1707 breath box

Time for the Royal Society Summer Exhibition late night adults only serving poison cocktails.

1707 Royal Society Poison cocktail

Dr Kathryn Harkup gave us the low down on the most efficient murder tools.  Learnt that hemlock looks very like parsley; just 1 gram of nicotine (eaten) would kill you in 4 minutes – very quick for a poisoning; 100 cups of coffee in one day would kill you with caffeine  – but the water would get you first.

First stop –  Modelling the Invisible – Durham University – where I met David Cerdeno, a colleague of Cham Ghag who I had only emailed the week before about the LODM project- they had a device where you could set your dark matter detection experiment parameters, run the experiment  and warp forward in time to get your results – lots of lucky people were finding dark matter – shows optimism for their project which is going to be installed at Snowlab in Canada.

1707 Royal Society Summer Science DM

I was encouraged to track down and read a series of books by the physicist George Gamow explaining scientific theories through the character of Mr Tompkins who experiences dreams in which he enters alternative worlds where the physical constants have radically different values from those they have in the real world.

1707 Mr Tompkins

Had a chat about Large Hadron Collider computations that come from smashing particles together – 600 million collisions every second and the incredible number of particles that get produced and just how many types of particle there are  –  I was pointed in the direction of the particle physics bible. 

1707 Royal Society Summer Science Exh

Tried to ascertain what Gravitational Waves are made of but ended up no clearer,  they are bound up in spacetime and measuring them involves incredible accuracy but I couldn’t get to grips with what medium they use to travel across space – is it the as yet unobserved gravitons? Was informed that if I had a metre ruler and took it to Mars it would be shorter but so would I be, therefore I wouldn’t notice.

1707 gravitational waves

Quantum gravity is the sought after theory. It may turn out that the distinction between spacetime and matter is invalid at the Planck scale.
Every body gravitates because it bends the space surrounding it, changing the flow of time in the process – at the same time how a body moves in a gravitational field is determined by how it fits into warped spacetime.

I think these are phenomena I am too big or too small to notice.

Bit of a public engagement thing and free apps going on at www.laserlabs.org

Should I want to make a mini supernova I need a hydrogen based product about a mm across – hit it with a very powerful laser (the Orion Laser would do) until it reaches impossible temperatures – it will explode into a supernova that would fit in the palm of my hand. Ouch.

1507 Sun Factor

Susan Eyre Sun Factor

Apparently around 10 supernovas happen every second, bringing home the vastness of the universe. Some comfort is that our sun is too small to explode in this way. Plasma makes up a lot of the universe but on earth the temperature is too cool – plasma occurs when something gets so hot the constituent parts of the atom separate. Plasma is considered the fourth state of matter. The three other states are solid, liquid, and gas.

1707 plasma 1.jpg

There is a new type of laser called maser – masers amplify microwave signals from space, it doesn’t add any noise as the photons are fired into a crystal which absorbs them, then releases them all at the same time in coherence so they have less interference – all nicely lined up and much more intense – they used to need to be cryogenically cooled to work but now they have made it possible using a crystal to make all electrons move in the same way. This is good for receiving weak signals from space like communications from the Mars Rover.

1707 Luci Eldrige Mars reconstructed

Luci Eldridge Mars reconstructed

Having been on the peripheries of Melanie King’s Phosphorescence workshops as part of Dark Matters Lab. it was interesting to try to understand how fluorescence works.

1707 Phoshorescence workshop

Southampton University were on hand explaining how fluorescence works in coral but I think the principle is always the same –  the fluorescent substance takes in blue light and emits light in a different colour at a lower energy, the electrons drop down in their orbits of the nucleus to base level and then move back up. The substance atom would usually have a coiled shape and the electrons get lost in the coils. Coral is a shell structure containing symbiotic algae and the fluorescence helps protect the algae from too much sunlight in shallow waters.

I enjoyed the ritual based symmetry of Benedict Drew’s The Trickle Down Syndrome installation at Whitechapel gallery. Ready to worship. Fearful of outcomes.

1707 Benedict Drew

A full day at the Science Museum assessing Robot Futures: Vision and Touch in Robotics a symposium hosted by Luci Eldridge and Nina Trivedi bringing together engineers, scientists, cultural theorists and artists to explore notions of embodiment and telepresence in the field of robotics and in virtual and augmented realities. It began with a tour of the current Robots exhibition followed by a demonstration of ROBOT DE NIRO by Dr Petar Kormushev of Imperial College Robotics Lab.

1707 Robot De Niro

This is when we learnt that although huge progress has been made robots are still pretty limited in what they can do physically. Great programme of speakers including  Gregory Minnissale: Nonlinear Vision and Touch in Art, Science and Technology; Joey Holder: Ophiux; Nea Ehrlich: Envisioning 21st Century Techno-Vision: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Machine Witnessing in Non-Fiction; Bianca Westermann: Robotic Presences: Encounters with the Artificial between Social Companionship and Embodied Representation; Ruairi Glynn: Animacy Aesthetics; Maya Oppenheimer: The Robotics Division of the Dramaco Instrument Company Introduces the Ensocellorator Reliance Pro II; Stephen Ellis (via Skype): On the character, scope, and meaning of the spatial user interface to Virtual Environments: its recent and deep history; Simon Julier; Nicola Plant and Jeremiah Ambrose: Systems of Seeing: Virtual Gaze Interaction.

Next stop the North East.

1707 CIMM install.jpg