Archives for posts with tag: Arts Catalyst

2002 St Augustine's Tower

In the studio I have been experimenting with magnets and iron filings while thinking about magnetoreception, methods of navigation and finding the way in the dark.

2002 magnetoreceptor wip 1

Some interesting research at the Max Planck Institute headed by Dr Christine Nießner has been looking at the light-sensitive molecules that exist in bacteria, plants and animals which are used for perception of the Earth’s magnetic field to aid orientation and navigation.  In birds the cryptochrome molecule is located in photoreceptors in the eyes and is activated by the magnetic field but only reacts to the magnetic field if it is simultaneously excited by light.

An additional meaning to birds eye view.

In animals, these molecules are also involved in the control of the body’s circadian rhythms. The researchers think that some mammals may also use this cryptochrome to perceive the Earth’s magnetic field. In evolutionary terms, the blue cones in mammals correspond to the blue- to UV-sensitive cones in birds. It is therefore entirely possible that this cryptochrome in mammals has a comparable function.

2002 magnetoreceptor wip 2Observations of foxes, dogs and even humans indicate that they can perceive the Earth’s magnetic field, but may perceive it in a different way, for example with microscopic ferrous particles in cells known as magnetite. A magnetite-based magnetic sense functions like a pocket compass and does not require any light.

2002 naked mole rat

Mole rats navigate their dark tunnels using this kind of compass. Birds also have an additional orientation mechanism based on magnetite, which they use to determine their position.

 

 

 

2002 dark skies forest

 

Continuing research for a collaborative event with UCLO looking at the planetary system most similar to our own Solar System which contains the bright star HD70642. It is visible with binoculars from the southern hemisphere toward the constellation of Puppis.  “The Stern”  (poop deck) was once part of the constellation Argo Navis. Argo was the ship that Jason and the Argonauts sailed on their quest for the Golden Fleece2002 star map Argo Navis

A planet with twice the mass of Jupiter has been discovered orbiting HD70642 in an almost circular orbit. This means it is possible that Earth-type planets may be orbiting further in. In all other planetary systems discovered with massive planets they usually have disruptive closer elliptical orbits which would destroy any smaller planets on a circular orbit.

At 90 light years away, extremely faint early radio broadcasts from Earth are now passing this planetary system. It was around 90 years ago when University College London Observatory first began exploring the night sky. It was also around then when my mother was born which gives a human scale to the journey time. The constellation of Puppis is only visible from the southern hemisphere but should there have been a radio broadcast about the opening of UCLO then this information would now have travelled to this potential alternative home.

2002 UCL Observatory

 

British Pathé produced a short but sadly silent (sound was not introduced until 1930) newsreel of the opening of the observatory at UCL in 1929. View here

 

 

 

 

There may be a chance to discover Earth like planets using the new high precision spectrometer technology developed by Macquarie astrophysicist Christian Schwab which collects starlight from  unimaginably distant stars and measures the subtle effect orbiting planets have on their parent stars.

2002 spectograph Kitt Peak Observatory

Further research for a future video work The Seeker, The Seer, The Scientist. Looking to the horizon, the line that separates earth and sky.  The optical horizon is what we see but is not at the same as the geometric horizon which allows for the curvature of light due to atmospheric refraction. If the surface of the Earth is colder than the air above it, light is refracted downward as it travels around the curvature of the Earth and if the ground is hotter than the air above it light is refracted upwards causing a mirage.

2002 horizon

The true horizon is usually hidden.

2002 horizon sea

We each have a personal distance to the horizon based on our specific height of eye from the ground and the local elevation from sea level at which we stand. It is a distance we can never reach as it always recedes.  The seeker must send a seer to visit their horizon and report back on what it is they see, they may also send a scientist. The seer can see beyond, but is what they see real or imagined, the scientist can explain what is beyond but this is just abstract space.

My height of eye = 1.5m + local elevation

Distance to horizon = √(13 x height of eye)

2002 iris for etching

Some interesting ideas in The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception, a 1909 text by Max Heindel which seem relevant to my meanderings intersecting cosmic particle trails with matter. This text, setting out a theory of seven Worlds and seven Cosmic Planes, supposes an intermingling of spirit with matter where the intersection of the material and metaphysical world are not one above another in space, but inter-penetrate each with the other.2001 cosmic planes

Beginning the process of disposing of old work and bits and pieces. Storage is a big problem for artists I think.

2002 plastic

Also reworking old prints. It’s taken a couple of years to percolate but am working on a suspended paradise.

2002 paradise suspended

Out of studio.

A brief look at what is current in Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2019 at South London Gallery

200219 new contemporaries

The Missing Day discussion on 29/02 as part of the The Habitat of Time programme at Arts Catalyst curated by Julie Louise Bacon was a cross discipline interrogation of the social, political and personal impact of how we order time.

  • Once every four years, here in the collective habitat of Earth time, 365 becomes 366 as the missing day of the leap year makes another appearance in the now-global calendar. This quadrennial occurrence foregrounds the essentially malleable nature of time. From the earliest lunisolar calendar developed in Babylon during the Bronze Age, to the invention of atomic clocks in the mid 20th century, and speculations on the quantum realm in the laboratories of today, time’s parameters have taken on new guises, shaping and regulating life in the process.

The Missing Day roundtable explores the development of human modes of measuring and understanding time, and their impact on the ways we order time as societies, individuals and a species. The discussion will bring together perspectives on observing, keeping and speculating on time from the fields of the history of science and physics. It will consider the emergence of the modern regimes of time that dominate social life, their limits and the possibilities beyond.

Chaired by the curator Emily Akkermans ‘Curator of Time’ at National Maritime Museum Greenwich spoke about the mechanics of horology and the trade and empire building that led to time keeping for navigation, transport systems, industry and financial markets. Artist Ted Hunt whose work is featured in the 24/7 Somerset House exhibition spoke about his attempts to deconstruct the clock and find alternative methods of recording time. Artist Ami Clarke from Banner Repeater had a stark message about capitalism driving our relationship to time, taking control away from the human as algorithms respond to twitter announcements and fluctuate markets faster than humans can intervene to prevent malfunction. Particle astrophysicist Cham Ghag was present to give insight into how time does not exist in physics apart from in the law of thermodynamics. All other processes are reversible but heat can only travel in one direction. He also spoke about the importance of good quality sleep and disengaging from the demands of 24/7 ordered time.

2002 habitat of time

24/7 – A WAKE-UP CALL FOR OUR NON-STOP WORLD at Somerset House. With over 50 works it was a bit of a sensory overload in itself but thankfully interspersed with meditative works that gave some respite. An urgent analysis of sleep deprivation, disrupted circadian rhythms and non-stop culture.

The current new materialisms reading group book is Posthuman Knowledge by Rosi Brandotti who writes about complex multiplicity and a global exhaustion from having to negotiate new technologies, the political landscape and climate urgencies, like surfers riding an ever increasing number and magnitude of waves. How do we position ourselves (we who are in this together but are not the same)  in a world where we must distinguish ourselves from non-human (I am not  ROBOT) yet embrace and include the non-human; confer rights to nature; dismantle dualisms?

The question of what is it to be human is wonderfully scrutinised in Caryl Churchill’s play A Number which looks at human cloning and identity, particularly nature versus nurture in making us who we are. The story, set in the near future, is structured around the conflict between a father and his sons – two of whom are clones of the first one. The original son feeling loss of self, the second son feeling a poor copy, and subsequent sons freed of guilt or jealousy or lacking in introspection and depth.

2002 mirrors

Research Network: Ecological Sci-fi – Artist talk with Stephanie Moran and Keiken at Inniva.

Scientists have been incorporating more and more attributes based on animal perception and behaviour into media, a process that has been intensifying since the beginnings of Modernism, from steam engines to AI (Lippit, 2000; Parikka, 2010). If we are already cyborg, we are also already interspecies cyborgs, albeit in anthropocentrically instrumentalised, alienated form. As artist Jennet Thomas’ dystopian sci-fi film proposes, “The category ‘human’ is falling apart…” (Animal Condensed>>Animal Expanded#2

Stephanie Moran’s PhD research considers how to think about ourselves as part of a shared ecosystem and to consider the embodied experiences of other species that share our world but inhabit very different experience-worlds. Unfortunately I found it hard to hear and follow her talk, and keep pace with the slides. I’m sure there was a lot of interesting information that escaped me. I did pick up the mention of magnetoreception though.

2002 Stephanie Moran

Astrobiology researcher Professor Lewis Dartnell gave an interesting talk at Conway Hall Origins – How the Earth Made Us

Geological forces drove our evolution in East Africa; mountainous terrain led to the development of democracy in Greece; and today voting behaviour in the United States follows the bed of an ancient sea. The human story is the story of these forces, from plate tectonics and climate change, to atmospheric circulation and ocean currents.

2002 Cutty Sark

Slow time. Norwegian choreographer Ingri Fiksdal presented Diorama at Greenwich on a thankfully bright February lunchtime.

These performances reflect on the passing of time, on the slow change in landscape, and scenography as an ecological practice of bodies both human and non-human.

The word “diorama” often refers to a three-dimentional model of a landscape, such as displayed in museums of natural history. Another use of the word is for the French diorama theatre, invented by Louis Daguerre in 1822, where the audience were sat watching big landscape paintings transform through skillfully manipulated light, sound effects and live performers.

 

ONE FOLD, TWO FOLD, TEN FOLD, MANIFOLD at Exposed Arts Projects.

2002 manifold library

Manifold has varied meanings across context and research discipline with use in mathematics, topology and geometry.  It describes .

2002 manifold Gina DeCagna

 

Artist Gina DeCagna presented her explorations with discarded cardboard built into installations looking at layering and hierarchy. These assemblages work as symbolic means to arouse social questions around empowerment and inequality.

 

 

 

In mathematics, topology compares shapes to see if they have the same number of holes and handles and can therefore be moulded from one into the other by stretching, twisting, crumpling and bending, but not tearing or gluing.

Topologist Dr Mehdi Yazdi gave an introduction to mathematical concepts in topology, manifolds and foliations from abstract space to the expanding rings of trees found in nature. Foliation is the decomposition of shape into lines and circles. We gained visual inspiration from hands on participation with marbleised paper.

2002 marbling

Mushrooms: The art, design and future of fungi – an exhibition at Somerset House celebrating the remarkable mushroom, and all the progressive, poetic and psychedelic wonder it evokes.

2002 mushrooms (3)

Michael Pollen’s excellent book How To Change Your Mind  sets out a fascinating history of psychedelics bringing us up to date with current research and future potentials for treating addictive behaviour as well as offering well adults access to an alternative consciousness. Told through his own experiences using LSD and psilocybin under guidance and his many interviews which researchers, practitioners, therapists and volunteers one overarching theme that comes out is a feeling of transcendence to another plane of consciousness which many interpret as becoming one with the universe or feeling the presence of god and an overwhelming sense of love. Could this chemical be the catalyst to opening receptors in our brain enabling us to access a consciousness present in the universe outside our body or are the emotions, visions and dissolution of ego experienced by those taking psychedelics all taking place within the brain?

Pollen quotes from Aldous Huxley’s experiences documented in his 1954 book The Doors of Perception where he describes an unmediated access to realms of existence which is always present but kept from our awareness by a “reducing valve” of everyday waking consciousness a kind of mental filter that admits only a “measly trickle of the kind of consciousness” we need in order to survive. A bit like us only seeing certain wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum.

The title comes from William Blake’s 1793 book The Marriage of Heaven and Hell which expresses a unified vision of the cosmos in which the material world and physical desire are equally part of the divine order. It would not be hard to imagine Blake’s visions rooted in a psychedelic experience.

2002 William Blake

Over 250 years after the young William Blake saw a vision of an angel in a tree on Peckham Rye, Flat Time House has commissioned six poets to bring their words and visions to Peckham. Each of the poets has been commissioned to write in response to the life and work of William Blake and/or in response to that other creator of cosmologies, John Latham.

Poets in Response to Blake is part of the exhibition programme The Bard – William Blake at Flat Time House. The evening I attended we gathered to hear Chris McCabe, Niall McDevitt, Karen Sandhu and Iain Sinclair read from their commissioned works. It was such a treat to hear the spoken word live. A time to listen and reflect. Each of the contributions was evocative and insightful. I like that Iain Sinclair suggested John Latham was of such an expansive mind that he spanned time and consequently predated Blake.

“Spectral Latham pre-deceases William Blake,

      while both magicians,

burning like thermal lances, are numbered among

     the chain of stars.

Curved light reaches through infinitely extended

   quantum crumbs,

Planck time, to a black metal box that flattens,

   swept by paper waves,

into a cemetery suburb on the hill. Angelic incidents

   are reported”       Iain Sinclair

 

 

 

 

 

Back in beautiful Northumberland for a Beyond gathering of artists at ACA who will be continuing in the open door residency as the project evolves into Continuum.

1810 ACA.jpg

Lots of particle trails were spotted during The Cloud Chamber Workshop. Thanks to the Institute of Physics for sponsoring this, Allenheads Contemporary Arts for hosting and the North Pennines Stargazing Festival for including it in their programme.

1810 cloud chamber workshop 1

A 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.

1810 cloud chamber workshop 2

These particles pass though us continuously without our awareness. Witnessing this usually unseen activity can lead us to look beyond what our immediate senses tell us is there and consider the possibility of other intangible phenomena.

1810 Wilson's cloud chamber

The rather gorgeous original Cloud Chamber was invented by Scottish physicist Charles Wilson and he won the noble prize for it in 1927. It has been said that the cloud chamber might be the most important piece of experimental equipment in the history of particle physics. It was a chance discovery that made the study of particles possible.
Wilson was fascinated by clouds and was actually studying meteorology spending his time observing clouds at the top of Ben Nevis. He thought it might be easier to study them if he could build a device to create clouds in his laboratory. He also hoped to recreate the strange optical phenomena known as a Glory caused by light hitting clouds below the observer which he had experienced from his high vantage point on the mountain.

1810 A glory

It was Victor Hess who discovered cosmic rays and earnt the Nobel Prize for this in 1936. Scientists had been puzzled by the levels of ionizing radiation measured in the atmosphere using electroscopes. It was expected that radiation would decrease with distance from the earth but to test this Hess risked his life taking measurements at high altitudes in a balloon without oxygen tanks. He found that the radiation levels increased with altitude and concluded that there was radiation penetrating the atmosphere from outer space.

1810 Victor Hess balloon

Left over dry ice from the workshop gave us the opportunity to try freezing bubbles.

1810 freezing bubble

The workshop was followed by The Dark Side of the Universe talk from Dr. Pete Edwards. Our universe is filled with mysterious dark matter, whose gravity provides the cosmic glue that holds it all together, and dark energy, which is slowly tearing the universe apart.

1810 Pete Edwards Talk ACA

The finale of the Stargazing Festival was the screening of Steven Spielberg’s 1977 sci-fi icon Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Good to revisit and think about how much more we know about the universe 41 years on.

1810 Close Encounters

This was preceded by an appropriate dinner courtesy of Alan Smith.

1810 Close Encounters dinner

I was invited as a guest speaker at London LASER Labs Re- Thinking Space at Central Saint Martins.

The session remit was

We are in the midst of both an incredible and challenging space age. How can we harness the information, collected in silo, from the fields of cosmology and quantum physics to conceive of a more unified vision of how the universe (and us) are put together? Within science and culture – what new models of thought could we foster? How do creativity and consciousness fit into this emerging paradigm? How can we rethink our practices to swerve the impasse some are labelling a new ‘Dark Age’?…

I was glad to arrive early to see the collection of meteorites Dr Natasha Almeida, Curator of Meteorites at the Natural History Museum had brought along for the Playlab hands on session. This included a spectacular slice of iron meteorite. Due to a long cooling period inside the parent asteroids the nickel and iron alloys crystallise then when polished and acid etched the classic Widmanstätten patterns of intersecting lines of lamellar kamacite, are visible. Also a tear drop of earth rock created when a meteorite struck the earth and the heat melted the rock which flew into the air and cooled into tear drops as it fell.

1810 meteorite collection.jpg

Other speakers at the event were Dr. Thomas Kitching a Cosmologist from Mullard Space Science Laboratory who is Science Co-Lead for the ESA’s Euclid Mission launching in 2021 to map the geometry of the Dark Universe by observing thousands of millions of galaxies.

1810 terra incognita.jpg

He told us how confidence in what the universe is made of has eroded over the centuries and perhaps dark matter and dark energy which make up what we call the dark universe should be renamed Materia Incognita.

Dr Ceri Brenner is a plasma physicist and innovator at STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory’s Central Laser Facility. She uses the most powerful lasers in the world to study what happens when extreme bursts of light come into contact with matter. She told us how firing these high energy lasers  through Tantalum a rare, blue-gray lustrous metal can produce high energy x-rays which can be used for imaging the container walls of  radioactive storage facilities to look for damage. The extreme physics she studies can also be applied to understanding supernova explosions in space or how we can ignite a star on earth for clean electricity generation.

1810 STFC laser lab

Apparently plasma accounts for 99% of the known matter in the Universe, it’s a soup of sub-atomic particles at temperatures way beyond what we usually experience on earth. This makes the stuff we interact with on a daily basis seem a really tiny portion if 99% of the 5% we know is also stuff beyond our realm of experience.

1810 plasma.jpg

Astrophysicist Dr Chamkaur Ghag was also there to talk about direct dark matter research and how extremely sensitive the detectors need to be. It was interesting to look at the progression of the different detectors from DRIFT to LUX increasing target capacity and homing in on areas of possibility where the illusive particles might be found.

Cham always gives insight into the importance of not just interrogating matter but putting scientific research into context. Asking why we are doing something, not just how. This fires his passion to address climate change and his involvement in the grassroots initiative from Particle Physicists European Strategy Update on Climate Change

1810 Paradise burning

PARADISE burning — More than 30,000 people fled for their lives as a late-season wildfire swept across this town in the Sierra foothills

Laser Lab Talks Re-Thinking Space was compered by Nicola Triscott, founding Artistic Director/CEO of Arts Catalyst who asked the panel some reaching questions about the future of physics and how we make a difference to the debate placing ourselves in control of our destiny. Questions from the floor addressed the public interface of science. Speaking in front of an audience is not something I find comfortable so my input to the panel was slim but hopefully I had aired some relevant points during my talk looking at the opposing scales of cosmology and quantum physics and how we might relate to these two spheres of knowledge, both beyond human scale and comprehension.

1802 frozen galaxy
The idea of a new dark age approaching addresses a fear that we no longer understand the world around us. We are subjected to too much information that we can no longer process. There is too much complexity, we don’t know where to turn for verification.
The knowledge of the way the world behaves built up over generations may no longer apply. The fear that we are losing connection to the world around us is in many ways a long standing one – we have always looked back to a time when we believed we lived in harmony with the natural world.  That something central to our lives has been lost.

 

1810 Bruegel Two Monkeys

Pieter Bruegel The Elder Two Monkeys 1592

I have seen some interesting exhibitions tracing the human experience through alienation, projection and what happens when different worlds collide.

Nicky Coutts excellent examination of interspecies dissonance Man Stupid at Danielle Arnaud. Koko the gorilla was born and raised in captivity. She was taught to sign and ultimately deliver a message in the role of ambassador on behalf of nature to the 2015 Paris Climate Conference.

In Nicky’s drawings Koko has slipped away leaving just her skin as shadow.

1810 Nicky Coutts

The images read as an indecipherable code. The frustration at the divide between human and non human communication is held in these traces of gesture. We can look hard, make suggestions but will never know what is in the great ape’s mind. Drawn in blackest charcoal, rich and intense with a primeval, totemic aura they could be the props of the shaman hinting at another world that requires some rite of passage involving the returning to a world of raw visceral nature.

Oceania at The Royal Academy.

In 1768 James Cook set sail from Plymouth in the HMS Endeavour funded by the Royal Society to track the transit of Venus in Tahiti and explore the islands of the Pacific Ocean.

1810 Oceania RA Lisa Reihana 3.jpg

Lisa Reihana has created a large scale panaoramic video installation in Pursuit of Venus [infected] using the French scenic wallpaper Les Sauvages De La Mer Pacifique as a backdrop to the complexities of cultural identity and colonisation depicting scenes of encounter between Europeans and Polynesians.

1810 Oceania RA 3

Much of the exhibition was uncomfortable viewing for although the catalogue emphasises that objects collected by Europeans were frequently given willingly I don’t feel confident there was equality in these ‘exchanges’.

1810 Oceania RA 5

1810 Oceania RA 7

1810 Oceania RA 1

That the objects still resonate with spiritual significance for some is evident by fresh offerings left around the galleries.

I had just finished reading the riveting Modern Gods by Nick Laird before visiting which raises the subject of proselytism and relevant contemporary issues on religious belief and cultural contamination drawing on events in Ulster and Papua New Guinea to highlight the fragility of social cohesion when faith and tribe are on the line.

 

Sarah Christie’s Library shown at Southwark Cathedral is an ongoing attempt to give voice to the individuals that make up the 48% and the opposing 52% trying to make sense of the divided society they find themselves a part of in post Brexit referendum Britain.

1810 Sarah Christie

In Ancient Greece, people voted by writing on ‘ostraca’ a broken piece of pottery. The public have been invited to select an ostracon – sherds made by hand from a hundred and fifty cast bowls – and offer their own words that break boundaries.

I enjoyed Alex Prager’s Face in the Crowd series at The Photographers Gallery.

1810 Alex Prager Face in the Crowd

The individual is picked out in the crowd and elevated from anonymity, but look at the crowd – these are not the grey masses we blend in with on the streets, at airport lounges and theatres. Each of these characters is chosen, placed and choreographed. The unnatural vibrancy and controlled demeanours give the scene an unsettling automaton quality.

1810 Alex Prager

Entertained by an evening exploring the darker past of the gothic extravaganza Strawberry Hill House.

Spirits invoked for Ghost Tide exhibition at Thames-side Gallery curated by Sarah Sparkes and Monica Bobinska.

1810 Laura Marker Ghost Tide

Laura Marker

1810 Mary Yacoob Ghost Tide

Mary Yacoob

I took part in the Hollow Bone Ceremony led by shaman Kate Walters who uses repetitive drumming to alter the brain waves to ‘theta’ waves to allow travel to either the Upper world or the Lower world to convene with the cosmos, nature and animal spirits and ask for guidance on behalf of the participant.

1810 hollow bone ceremony

Was it coincidence that my mind focused on an unexpected encounter with a deer in Grizedale Forest the previous week that after the 10 minutes of rhythmic trance Kate came back with a strong image of a large Moose or Stag whose energy and ferocity I needed to tap into.

1815 Grizedale Deer.jpg

Thanks to Jim Lloyd for highlighting this quote from Werner Heisenberg

“What we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning. “

 

BEYOND – Midsummer Events at Allenheads Contemporary Arts kicked off with Far From Daylight -Outstation #1. This involved lying in candlelit rows, blindfolded, on inflatable beds subjected to a pulsating tone while a disembodied voice gave an account of cosmonaut training in the 1960’s and the interrogation of the minds of the cosmonauts. 1806 outstation 1

Fact and fiction overlapped or merged as documented experiences of cosmonauts were read from texts by group participants. Later small groups of participants plucked word cards from a bag, the words signified archetypes or directives to inspire images that would be used as thought cards for future floatation tank experiences.

1806 outstation 1 discussion

‘The Illuminated Woman’ became the all encompassing and much more open ‘The Illuminated’.

1806 fire

The Pilgrimage; a non-linear spiral, borders were permeable or herbaceous, the map dissolved leaving no points of reference in space only the depths of the mind to navigate. This was preceded by skimming stones on the cosmic pond and followed by conversations around the fire with artists Jo Hodges and Robbie Coleman who had devised and led this affecting event.

The next night was a test run for the scheduled live streaming of the sunset and sunrise from the top of the fell…

1806 ACA BEYOND

1806 BEYOND

1806 live streaming sunset

…situated between borders.

1806 BORDER

1806 BORDER 2

The Midsummer’s Night droning began just as the sun dipped the horizon and continued until it appeared again on the other side of the earth. It seemed to get around very quickly.

1806 BEYOND forest

It never got dark. The earth orbits the sun in about 365.25 days. Up 31 octaves this is 69.05Hz, a slightly flat C sharp. This midsummer the earth will rotate on its own axis in 23 hours, 59 minutes, 59.9998932 seconds. Up 21 octaves this is 24.269Hz, a slightly flat G.

Open Weekend Events up at the school house included seeing comic particle trails in my cloud chamber.

1806 cosmic trail

Also a little hologram film I made of the trails set in a dodecahedron (motif for the universe)

1806 cosmic hologram 2

1806 cosmic hologram 3

1806 cosmic hologram viewer.jpg

Exoplanet exploration

1806 ACA exoplanet explorers

The gallery in the village with work from other BEYOND residency artists

1806 Gallery ACA

1806 peripheral training chair

Earlier visit to Allenheads – circling ideas, segmenting, focusing

1806 Allendale walkabout

The density of the forest is overwhelming – no space to enter – yet imagine being able to pass unheeded through this entanglement

1806 Allendale Impenetrable forest

1702-etching-through

1703 dark-universe-dark-matter

Had a preview screening of edited soft borders (video with dance artist Paola Napolitano) and installation of Duodecimens (etched aluminium. screen print) in my studio space for the annual Open Weekend at Thames-side Studios.

1806 Open Studios.jpg

Using the dodecahedron as motif, the boundaries of the universe are brought within reach; pliant and permeable as the body bathed in cosmic particles that do not recognise borders but pass unseen through spacetime and matter. 1806 soft borders still.jpg

There was some interesting use of materials in New Relics sculpture show in Thames- side Gallery.

1806 New Relics.jpg

The Echoing Space exhibition is a sensitive response to the history of Leith Hill Place from artists Julie Hoyle, Mary Branson and Penny Green. Combining traditional and contemporary materials and processes the past and present are drawn together reigniting the passions of past inhabitants for a new generation.

1806 Leith Hill Place Mary Branson

1806 Leith Hill Place Julie Hoyle

The austere façade and darkened windows can give an initial impression of a sinister past and ghosts best left to rest but inside reveals a palimpsest of family life steeped in the arts and scientific discovery.

1806 Leith Hill Place

In 1847 it became the home of Josiah Wedgwood III who was married to Caroline Darwin. Her brother Charles Darwin often visited and the wormstone he used for research into how stones and ancient ruins become buried over time is still in the grounds. He studied the action of earthworms excavating soil from beneath the stone and depositing it above the surface. It has been estimated that a 25cm thick stone might take approximately 250 years to fall to the level of the ground. What was under becomes surface.

Vibrant Matter: a political ecology of things by Jane Bennett has an interesting chapter on the earthworm and Darwin’s studies which conclude that earthworms ‘make history’ and augment human culture through the accumulated effects of ‘small agencies’.

Darwin’s niece Margaret married Arthur Vaughan Williams and their youngest son, Ralph went on to become the composer best known for The Lark Ascending. He was also an avid collector of folk songs hoping to save them from being buried in time.

1806 Joan Jonas (3)

I didn’t get to see any of the live performances but did go to the Joan Jonas ‘in conversation’ with Marina Warner.  Denying any pretentions of being a shaman herself Joan denotes how the shaman enters an unconscious state and makes clear her performances are highly structured, rehearsed conscious episodes though both performances may appear to invoke the use of objects in ritual the intention is quite different. She draws on influences such as the documentation of Aby Warburg who was captivated by the rituals, masks, architecture, art and culture of native Americans he met on his travels in 1895. She has been to experience remote cultures for herself drawing on both real events and mythologies to feed her performances, creating an alternative space to preside in.1806 Joan Jonas (1)

The viewer watches. We are gathered at the fire.

1806 Joan Jonas (2)

To follow the tale

1806 Joan Jonas (5)

1806 Joan Jonas (6)

1806 Joan Jonas (4)

saw this pattern recently in Valencia on a 15th century floor

1805 Valencia escher floor

Flooring Consulat del Mar at La Lonja de la Seda de Valencia (The Silk Exchange)

 

Communication between trees came up during the talk as discussed in The Hidden Life of Trees a book by Peter Wohlleben who describes a forest as a superorganism of unique individuals. He is writing about processes going on unseen beneath the soil, chemical languages, networks and relationships. We fail to understand trees because “they live on a different time scale” from us.

1806  forest.jpg

In Material Sight at Arts Catalyst Fiona Crisp presents a series of photographs and films within a structure of scaffolding and invasive noise echoing the utilitarian sites from which the images are taken. She has spent the last few years stalking spaces of scientific research deep underground and beyond public accessibility to pluck out small nuggets of suggestibility that bring a sense of these remote locations to an audience who will never physically experience these unique spaces. We are not invited to comprehend the activities and processes of the laboratories shown any more than we can grasp the mysteries of the universe that these sites are endeavouring to solve.  The images aim to engage through a visual intimacy to counteract the distances crossed in bringing the images to the surface.

1806 Fiona Crisp Material Sight

The programme of events continued with Kosmica Ethereal Things at Iklectik which turned out to be in ‘Old Paradise Yard’ (one I have missed on my paradise trail.) Chamkaur Ghag was speaking about dark matter, current research, what we don’t know, physics in culture and the need for a more holistic approach to scientific investigations. Annie Carpenter who is also participating in the BEYOND residency was there to demonstrate black hole accretion using dry ice and household items to create a spinning contraption with a hobbyist aesthetic bringing scientific endeavour into the everyday.

Coming up is the final weekend of events for BEYOND at ACA when I will be screening soft borders video. A research trip to Grizedale Forest as prelude to making new work for an exhibition there. Further research for the weather balloon project – in the meantime having fun running the tracking predictor to see how likely it might be to retrieve any video footage depending on where the camera might land.

1806 weather balloon tracking

Today would have been a good day for a flight.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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Anish Kapoor At The Edge of the World II

 

 

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Ai Weiwei Iron Tree Trunk

 

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Dan Graham Two V’s Entrance-Way

 

1711 Rodney Graham Vexation Island

Rodney Graham Vexation Island (still)

 

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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

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“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