Archives for posts with tag: Arts Council England

An occasion on which one is reminded of the state of things in the real world.

Carlo Rovelli was at Second Home discussing his book Reality Is Not What It Seems: The Journey To Quantum Gravity which presents the story of the human imagination and reveals how the atomic world view first proposed by Democritus nearly 2,500 years ago can be found interwoven through history into our cultural life. It tells the story of what we know about our universe and how we came to know it, from the early atomic intuitions of Greek and Roman thinkers who observed the world about them and came to the conclusion that objects could not be a continuous whole but must be made up of lots of tiny parts.

1706 Susan Eyre Diazographo photo Sara Lynd

Susan Eyre Diazôgraphô photo Sara Lynd

The book goes on to show evidence of the ancient ideas now emerging from the Planck satellite and CERN, to the genuinely new knowledge being offered by Loop Quantum Gravity, of which Rovelli is a founding theorist. He was a generous and thoughtful speaker. When I started his book  I was a little upset to find Plato to be considered obtuse and an obstacle to the progression of physics for ignoring the atomic theories of Democritus and questioning the benefits to itself of why an object should take a particular form, but then in chapter two Plato is absolved of criticism for his pioneering understanding that mathematics is at the root of all scientific truths that ‘Number governs forms and ideas’

1706 Susan Eyre Diazographo 2 photo Sara Lynd

Susan Eyre Diazôgraphô photo Sara Lynd

The talk moved on to discuss the nature of time and how we experience it. Someone quoted Nelson Goodman from 1951 in The Structure of Appearance. ‘A thing is a monotonous event; an event is an unstable thing’.


I found this clip of Brian Cox explaining time travel  sort of helpful in that I can follow his explanation but it still leaves me confounded.

1706 Brian Cox

In his book Rovelli equally values the thoughts of poets and physicists who contemplate the same questions about the structures of the universe.

1706 Baptistry Florence

Marvelling at correlations between Dante’s plan of paradise, possibly inspired by the cupola ceiling of the Baptistery in Florence, that speaks of a spherical universe made of ever increasing circles that reach a point where the outer circle appears to be enclosed by those that enclose it – a poetic description of a 3-sphere.

Rovelli believes the universe cannot be infinite – ‘that’s too big ‘ – and he seems aligned with the 3 sphere universe theory that the universe is not infinite but has no boundaries.  I found myself thinking – surely this must still sit within something? Still it was gratifying to find that this in line with Jean-Pierre Luminet and the Poincaré dodecahedral space  which I have been fascinated by –

A positively curved universe is described by elliptic geometry, and can be thought of as a three-dimensional hypersphere, or some other spherical 3-manifold (such as the Poincaré dodecahedral space), all of which are quotients of the 3-sphere.

Another name for the Poincaré dodecahedral space is the soccer ball universe…..

1705 Yinka Shonibare at York Museum

Yinka Shonibare’s work at York Art Gallery as part of Doug Fishbone’s Leisure Land Golf

We are still waiting for any definitive answers about the shape of the universe, whether it is infinite or finite, whether it is flat, positively curved or negatively curved, whether it is simply connected as in Euclidean geometry or like a torus which is flat, multiply connected, finite and compact among many other contributing possibilities. I have been doing some research on the Poincaré conjecture, mostly looking at the diagrams of the mathematical theories.

1706 Poincare's homology sphere

I came across the story of Russian mathematician Grigori Perelman whose theories ultimately  proved the Poincaré conjecture and he was awarded the Fields medal. He declined the award saying he wasn’t interested in fame. Other quotes have him saying if he can control the universe why would he want to claim a million dollars prize money. Perhaps some myths have been built around him, as seems to happen with a person who doesn’t conform to expectations.

1706 Grigori Perelman

An earlier visit to Second Home was for a talk on Super Massive Black Holes by Dr. Meghan Gray.

1705 Supermassive black holes

I found her description of what a black hole is really helpful to try and visualise what is happening. The idea that space curves around matter. That really dense and heavy matter condensed into a small object makes a deeper pocket in spacetime.

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The largest black holes are called “supermassive.” These black holes have masses greater than 1 million suns combined and would fit inside a ball with a diameter about the size of the solar system. Scientific evidence suggests that every large galaxy contains a supermassive black hole at its centre. The supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way is Sagittarius A*, it is 4 million times as massive as the sun and 27,000 light years from Earth. The smallest ones are known as primordial black holes. Scientists believe this type of black hole is as small as a single atom but with the mass of a large mountain.

The most common type of medium-sized black holes is called “stellar.” The mass of a stellar black hole can be up to 20 times greater than the mass of the sun and can fit inside a ball with a diameter of about 10 miles. Dozens of stellar mass black holes may exist within the Milky Way galaxy.

Information overload awaits you at sixtysymbols

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Made a trip to Whitby for a site visit to Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum ahead of our Laboratory of Dark Matters exhibition opening this summer.

1705 CIMM tunnel

We were given a very warm welcome and are looking forward to bringing our work to the North East. We are delighted that along with Arts Council England funding we have now received the support of The Institute of Physics and The Science and Technology Facilities Council to take our project to the mining museum.

1706 LODM exhibition supporters

I will be running some more cloud chamber workshops.

1706 Cloud Chamber workshopMy second Open Studios and the first with the new management Thames-side studios who did an excellent job promoting the event, running activities and guiding visitors around what is quite a big site now.

1705 Open Studios Pairi Daeza

Susan Eyre Pairi Daêza

The word Paradise originates from ancient Iranian pairi daêza meaning around and wall.

The work everydaymatters is informed by the discovery that the matter we know, that which is visible to us and includes all the stars and galaxies is only about 5% of the content of the universe, dark matter making up about 25% and the remaining 70% being dark energy, it dissects landscapes to discover the hidden structures of the universe.

170519 Open Studios (2)

Spent an interesting evening at Treadwell’s listening to Lore and Belief in the Case of the Talking Mongoose, a lecture by Chris Josiffe.

1705 treadwells talking mongoose

In the early 1930s, an isolated Manx farm family became international celebrities after claiming their home was inhabited by a weasel-like animal. Gef the Talking Mongoose could speak coherently, shape-shift and perform telepathy. Investigators came in their multitudes, and improbable though it may sound, many were convinced. It was a time when spiritualism was strong, and psychic investigation popular.  Gef was purported to live between the walls of the house. This made me think of Gregor Schneider and his double walled rooms, lead lined, claustrophobic passages.

1706 Totes Haus u r Keller Venedig Gregor Schneider

I made a trip to Brockley to see In Conversation with (7): Beyond Controls; a drawing and print collaboration between Neil Ferguson & Carol Wyss.

From an initial line, each drawing was scanned, emailed and printed out to be developed further by hand. The repetitive nature of these procedures regularly exposed the limitations and idiosyncratic qualities of the scanners and printers. The structure of “Beyond Controls …” would always be infinite, sequences without final drawings, but rather statements held in digitalized time. Cycles of series that cannot be closed, circles that cannot be joined.

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The result was 10 sets of 32 drawings, 10 inkjet monoprints and a captivating video of  each set of drawings digitally layered and edited with Photoshop making the decision on visibility of content through its own algorithms. Wonderful.

Another visit was to  a new project space HEWING WITTARE in Walthamstow to see Shapeshifting – tactics to combat drowning featuring works by Chudamani Clowes, Rebecca Glover and Anna Liber Lewis.

1706 Chud Clowes rescue blanket sea

The artists use the watery world as a metaphor for our current political climate in which the fight for survival, shelter and equality is growing tougher by the day….

Chud Clowes engaged in a perambulative performance dressed as an Urchin to highlight the journeys made across the globe by thousands of migrants often at the mercy of the oceans and elements as well as political currents that sweep them from place to place

1706 Chud Clowes Urchin performance

We were led to Lloyd Park, site of  the William Morris Gallery, for some squid and fish printing on one of the hottest days of the year.

Later the same day entering Edel Assanti gallery to see new work from Jodie Carey – Earthcasts the visual and the physical collided. In this white space 50 gnarled and towering sculptures created a landscape hinting at the cool depths of a silver birch tree glade or the snowy trunks of an alpine forest while the heat of the day still pulsated in my body and hung heavy in the atmosphere.

1706 Jodie Carey

It was a rich experience oscillating between ancient responses to the multiple upright monument, the rituals of the standing stone yet could also be the concrete posts from some deconstructed enclosure, the high wire fencing removed. Jodie Carey’s painstaking process of burying old timbers in the earth to create casts that are then filled with plaster and subsequently excavated echo the temporal and material nature of our lives lived on soil and imprinted with our own encounters.

Along to SHOW 2017 at the RCA to be swept even further away. The heat more in keeping with the surface of Mars images presented as part of the final research of Luci Eldridge’s PhD by thesis; Mars, Invisible Vision and the Virtual Landscape: Immersive Encounters with Contemporary Rover Images 2017

1706 Luci Eldridge Phd PV RCA

Luci Eldridge ‘Stepping into the Image of Mars’

Images captured at the Mars Yard being used to test the European Space Agency’s ExoMars rover, due to launch in 2020. Courtesy of Airbus Defence and Space.

‘ The eyes of the Mars rovers provide viewpoints through which we regard an alien terrain: windows upon unknown worlds. Rover images bridge a gap between what is known and unknown, between what is visible and invisible. The rover is our surrogate, an extension of our vision that portrays an intuitively comprehensible landscape. Yet this landscape remains totally out of reach, millions of miles away. This distance is an impenetrable boundary – both physically and metaphorically – that new technologies are trying to break.’ Luci Eldridge

1705 reworking dodecahedron

I am reworking the dodecahedron frame for the mining museum. Sanding, then darkening with my favourite black Stabilo pencil.

1706 dodecahedron

The images of cosmic trails now sit behind Perspex facets which has added another layer of reflection, the outer world, the universe surrounding and surrounded by itself

Diazôgraphô = Greek for to embroider. As to embroider the stars on the heavens…


Big news is that Laboratory of Dark Matters has been awarded Arts Council England funding. I am still struggling to believe. We are also getting some support from the Institute of Physics for when we take the exhibition to the North East. This news is such a boost for our project and has unleashed a rush of activity, but also a torrent of admin. I had been making some progress with the sculpture.1702 Dodecahedron.jpg

Results of a day at Woodhall Barn Workshop under the steady supervision of wood wizard Christopher Hall and I am very chuffed with my dodecahedron frame.  The angles have to be cut so very accurately using a table saw and digital level to achieve the precision needed for it to fit together. It’s basically 30 identical pieces ripped from 2 x 4 pine at 31.7° and mitred at 36° and glued together. We got these top tips ‘How to make a dodecahedron the easy way’ from YouTube. It was not easy.

Reading Plato’s Timaeus and Critias I was hoping to find some more information on the relationship drawn between the dodecahedron and the cosmos but have found no further explanations. Plato describes a primitive chaos where the four elements of fire, earth, water and air formed from a turbulent mix of ‘being’, ‘space’ and ‘becoming’ to be assigned by their solid or fluid characteristics to the tetrahedron, cube, icosahedron and octahedron respectively then adds .. ‘There still remained a fifth construction, which the god used for embroidering the constellations on the whole heaven’…it’s almost an afterthought or maybe just too illusive to elaborate on.


I have started the experiment with sugar lift and etching aluminium to see if I can bite right through the plate and keep the structure of the image. I screenprinted a sugar lift mixture onto the plate on both sides. The image was adapted from data visualisation of dark matter kindly supplied by Ralf Kaehler of the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology.

I drenched the plate in stop-out and left it to dry before immersing in hot water which dissolves the sugar and reveals the image. It was surprising how much fine detail came through. Though one side of the plate was always better than the other – this could be due to lots of things that are hard to control accurately like concentration of sugar, thickness of stop-out, temperature of water. A primitive chaos.

1702-detail-stopoutI am etching in saline sulphate as it gives quite a deep etch into aluminium.

great colours and quite mesmerising to watch as thick red deposits appear


Chemistry at work, lot of bubbles and heat. Several hours later after lots of dips, touch up of stop-out and fresh saline sulphate baths, light begins to appear through the plate

Cleaned up to see the results and decide where to go from here

The cloud chamber is also coming along. With the help of next door cutting my wood I have assembled the box. Even the insulation for the dry ice is cosmic.


Had an interesting day listening to panel discussions and talks at Belief and Beyond Belief on the South Bank. Topics covered were Science versus Religion: Do We Need to Choose? ; Quantum Theology: When Faith Meets Science; The Big Bang and Beyond; God of the Gaps. Religion and science ask the same questions but have different mechanisms to answer those questions.


These were some of the points discussed – When we look to understand the human condition and question the meaning of life, what truth are we seeking? The scientists present seemed more content to live in doubt but appreciated aspects that religion offered such as community, emotional beliefs and quiet reflection. The difficulty for scientists was in accepting that religions think they are based on truth. This religious truth comes from faith and cannot be tested as the argument is that God is beyond definition and therefore transcends understanding. It may be that searching for answers to resolve uncertainty is a survival trigger that persists as a craving in the human condition. .

1608 Paradise Row 7

The methodology of science is devised to look at facts unbiased, it has no moral or ethical framework. A theory in science is not a hypothesis. The scientists said they get frustrated by people saying they don’t ‘believe’ in their theory when they are based on facts. A theory may begin with a lot of intuition and wondering and develop like an artistic process of discovery within parameters; but then there is lots of testing, running the ideas through a sieve to filter out possible truths. A theory may start in mathematics but then is brought into the realm of language and the visual to express what we don’t understand. Georges Lemaitre in 1931 chose to explain his theory of the origin of the universe as “the Cosmic Egg exploding at the moment of the creation”; this became known as the Big Bang Theory. Pervasive metaphors colour our perceptions.


Science is perfectly happy to interrogate contradictory theories at the same time unlike religious belief which involves accepting one truth. All religions can’t all be right but their own belief in one truth makes it hard for them to accept a non-exclusivity of truths. Science cannot offer us all the answers. There cannot be a theory of everything, there must always be a gap in our understanding because to understand everything we would have to be omniscient – to look in from the outside. Or step outside of our own subjectivity. Thinking about this I went back to look at Schrödinger’s Mind and Matter, particularly his chapter Science and Religion which asks if science can help answer the questions of a possible eternity. Plato was the first to frame the idea of a timeless existence, more real than our actual existence which he saw as a shadow from some realm of ideas. He looked at the patterns in mathematics and geometry embedded in the structures around him that were determined by reason and logic and concluded that mathematical truth is timeless; discovery of it does not bring it into existence, it never changes and goes on forever. Schrödinger opens up further ideas on the indestructibly of the mind using the theories of space/time from Einstein and world view from Kant. This moves into more mind bending ideas, that theoretically time can be reversed. Here I struggle. The theories when pulled from mathematics into language sound fantastical, yet I am asked to believe mathematics is a truth. Then we come to the quantum world where observation and measurement do not apply. And so on.

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Conclusions were: Our consciousness is the intrinsic unknown. We have to seek paradise even if it is unachievable and live our lives in a precarious state of doubt.

Analogies can be made, replacing religion with art. Making in Transit hosted an evening at Cube exploring art and science in collaborative situations to discuss the strengths and challenges in bringing them together. ‘Both physics and art thrive on the premise that there is structure as well as genuine ambiguity and mystery in the universe and although  very different in terms of practice, they both depend on an ability to visualise or conceptualise abstract notions and patterns.

There was an introduction to the world of Jiggling Atoms, a collaboration of scientists and artists who bring fun to workshops and experiments in arts and physics. Named after the visual interpretations of maths formula from Richard Feynman they display the same constant energy.


Dr Daniel Glaser the director of the new Science Gallery London made the point that a successful collaboration is not so much about sharing knowledge but about tolerating each others ignorance, in this way a gap can be opened up for those who know nothing about either field to enter. The role of each party isn’t always clear or equal. He suggested the platonic ideal of ‘the essence’ was something artists could extract and Dr Chiara Ambrosio  suggested art should question the boundaries of science. Her interests are in the use of images to produce knowledge such as when high speed photography or microscopes revealed the secrets of the natural world. It was not as symmetrical as we supposed.

I returned the next day for an evening Imaging the Invisible to explore how we observe what we can’t see. Scientists and artists gave their perspectives on the invisible and how it operates in their own spheres. Bernard Siow and Yolanda Ohene from the Centre for Biomedical Imaging at UCL were passionate about the body imaging technologies they are developing, enabling extraordinary visualisations such as the muscle fibres of the heart.

Artist Dave Farnham has created sculptures through 3D print technologies that replicated internal structures from his friends who were going through medical scanning procedures due to illness.

Particle physicist Dr Ben Still introduced us to the world’s largest cosmic particle observation device The Super Kamiokande, set 1,000m underground in Japan.

1702 credit Kamioka observatory, ICRR.jpg

Using 50,000 tons of ultra-pure water as a target to detect neutrinos. The quantity is to increase the chances of a collision.  A neutrino interaction with the electrons or nuclei of water can produce a charged particle that moves faster than the speed of light in water. This creates a cone of light known as Cherenkov radiation, which is the optical equivalent to a sonic boom. The neutrino is a subatomic particle able to travel through matter without interacting, they have no electric charge and almost zero mass.

Lead is what we think of as most impenetrable. A lead lined coffin for Alexander Litvinenko. However it would take a light-year of lead, to stop just half of the neutrinos flying through it.

Anselm Kiefer Walhalla at White Cube Bermondsey weights the air with lead. We are in the lead coffin.


Alternative materiality at Chain by 15 an artist led exhibition in Peckham presented an Itchy and Scratchy world brought together by the Pokémon generation.


The Head Must Go cross stitch on linen by the uncompromising talent Hadas Auerbach was a delicate and poignant highlight.


Enjoyed the beautifully staged performance  –Venus Anadyomene -a collaborative 3 channel video and performance by Verity Birt, Holly Graham and Richard Forbes Hamilton; part of ongoing research around de-colonising histories, feminist narrative and collective voice.

The layering of voices, looping narrative and rhythmic pulse hooked into lost voices of history transporting the audience into a dreamlike territory.

I was invited by Lumen:School of Light to show everydaymatters at Ugly Duck for a weekend showcase of artists who explore the relationship between astronomy and light.


everydaymatters dissects landscapes to discover the hidden structures of the universe.


Images taken from everyday prosaic paradises such as Paradise Road, Stockwell and Paradise Row Bethnal Green, are divided into constituent proportions of dark energy, dark matter and the visible world opening the spaces between what is seen and unseen.

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Anna Gray’s water filled glass sculpture gave endless pleasure

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the mini planetarium experience from Sylvana Lautier, Rose Leahy and Kim Yip Tong was blissful immersion


Spaceheads & Rucksack Cinema multi media performance was funky


Was quite energising to set up and take down over one weekend with lots going on

1702 School of Light PV.jpg