Archives for posts with tag: Boulby Underground Laboratory

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

 

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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

 

 

 

We decide to build a wall.

Add some signage designed by Daniel Clark and we are ready for our first Open Lab. at Guest Projects.

1704 Laboratory Open.jpg

The idea is that we work in the space and are open for visitors to drop in and see what we are up to and chat about the work and the ideas around dark matter research that we are investigating.

We set up a reading table and information hub with artist profiles, research material and info on Boulby Underground Laboratory   which we visited last spring to discover for ourselves this hidden world where dark matter research and experiments take place.

During the first two weeks at Guest Projects we ran workshops and tested ideas in the space.

Chroma-key body suits needed a test run from Amy Gear.

1704 Amy greensuit

Elizabeth Murton was considering dark matter as a connective material in the universe, setting up a tension of competing forces that may be as powerful as those of fission and fusion.

1704 Elizabeth Murton testing

I ran Cloud Chamber workshops.

1704 Cloud Chamber workshop.jpg

Thankfully everyone was able to ‘capture’ their own particle trails in the mini cloud chambers they made and were duly captivated by the tiny missiles they observed.

1704 Cosmic Trail 6

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.

1704 Cosmic Trail 8

It is a sealed environment containing a supersaturated vapour of pure alcohol, warmed at the top and super cooled at the bottom with dry ice.

1704 dry ice remains.jpg

Charged particles passing through the chamber cause the alcohol molecules to gain an electric polarisation and condense into liquid droplets which look like tiny airplane trails.

1704 Cosmic Trail 9

To see the trails the particles leave as they tear through the cloud it must be very dark with a bright light shining across the floor of the chamber.

1704 Cloud Chamber setup

The activity takes place very near to the base of the chamber just a centimetre or two deep.

1704 Cosmic Trail 5

There is so much activity going on and these particles are whizzing through us all the time.

1704 Cosmic Trail 4

It seems we shouldn’t actually see some of these visitors at all but due to the weird way special relativity works we do. Muons are typically produced around 15 km up in the atmosphere, a distance which takes around 50 microseconds to cross at the speed of light— this is over 20 muon lifetimes and so they shouldn’t be able to make it to the earth’s surface before they decay.

1704 Cosmic Trail 1

However, since they are travelling quite near the speed of light, time in their frame of reference is significantly dilated as seen by an observer on Earth, meaning that a significant fraction can, in fact, make it to the surface. I have to be honest I can’t get my head round this but I love the idea of a particle having its own time frame of reference.

1704 Cosmic Trail 3

As well as Muons we see particles from background radiation. Radioactivity is a random naturally occurring process.  Alpha particles are released by high mass, proton rich unstable nuclei. The alpha particle is a helium nucleus; it consists of two protons and two neutrons. It contains no electrons to balance the two positively charged protons. Alpha particles are positively charged particles moving at high speeds. Beta particles are emitted by neutron rich unstable nuclei. Beta particles are high energy electrons. These electrons are not electrons from the electron shells around the nucleus, but are generated when a neutron in the nucleus splits to form a proton and an accompanying electron. Beta particles are negatively charged. For the particle to cause a trail it must have a charge which will ionize the vapour as they pass through, we don’t see neutrinos as they do not have a charge.

1704 Cosmic Trail 2Once you have the right set up it’s surprisingly easy to witness this turbulent landscape with it’s own little microclimate.

1704 frosty edges

Melanie King ran a day of hypnotic workshops painting with phosphorescent powder and using lasers to activate the phosphorescence which absorbs light then slowly releases it, allowing patterns to build up, layer and fade away.

1704 Melanie King phosphorence workshop 1

1704 melanie king Phosphoresence

The very knowledgeable Jennifer Crouch founder of Making in Transit and member of Art/Physics collective Jiggling Atoms ran a Super Symmetry workshop for us transforming the space with shimmering two way reflective veils

1704 Jennifer Crouch Super Symmetry 1

explaining the different types of particle and how easy or not it is to detect them, the contested theories of supersymmetry and the use of a black mirror (Claude glass) for observing nature

new particles were ‘created’, observed and drawn

Amy Gear invited anyone who identified as female to join a green screen/self defence workshop under the guidance of martial arts expert Jiff Higman to explore the visibility of women in the universe. The points of body contact echoing the anticipated nudge of the target xenon nucleus when a dark matter particle hits it and causes a scintillation of energy that the scientists can record. In the final video work only 5% of the bodies will be visible.

There was a spellbinding Hour Of Listening curated by Jennifer Boyd and Amy Pettifer. As the light faded we listened to Dark Matter Gushes From The Mouth Into The Open Air – ‘Latent gurgles, murmurs rising… a tone begins in the depths of the belly and strives in the throat before escaping – a burst of vocal dark matter. ‘

1704 Dark matter gushes from the mouth.jpg

Jocelyn Monroe, Professor of Physics at the Royal Holloway University of London kindly shared some links to her research areas.

1704 SNO chamber

She works in an underground laboratory SNOLAB where the DEAP dark matter search experiment takes place in Canada. She also works with the The Dark Matter Time Projection Chamber project and has written an article for symmetry magazine about the search for the dark matter wind which could give an idea of the direction dark matter comes from.

Lecturer in accelerator physics at Lancaster University and a member of the Cockcroft Institute of Accelerator Science and Technology, Ian Bailey shared his fascinating research searching for new particles and forces at both high energies and low energies.

1704 Ian Bailey cascade

He works with microwave cavities that are in some ways similar to household microwave ovens to look for the effects of hypothetical particles such as axions or hidden-sector photons. These particles are sometimes generically called weakly-interacting slim particles (WISPs). Just like their heavy cousins, the WIMPs (weakly interacting massive particles), WISPs may also be a major constituent of dark matter.

1704 Ian Bailey Cascade cooling

If they exist, hidden-sector photons (dark photons) would allow normal light to penetrate through walls in a way that it cannot normally do. The experiments that look for this effect are called light-shining-through-a-wall experiments and one such experiment has taken place at the Cockcroft Institute recently. It may be possible that dark matter could have subtle effects on the motion of light.

So from looking into this a bit it seems regular photons are changed to dark photons (axions)  by applying an intense magnetic field or maybe some other force – a barrier is set up that regular photons cannot pass through but dark photons can – the dark photons pass through the barrier and then turn back into visible photons which can be detected.

He is also involved in the design of the International Linear Collider, a potential new 31 km long particle accelerator which will try to produce WIMPS by colliding intense beams of electrons and positrons (anti-electrons) at high energies.

1704 ILC

I was invited to write a lead article for Run Riot listing site of cultural happenings in and around London explaining how the project had come about. Great dealing with the lovely Ava Szajna-Hopgood.

Elizabeth Murton curated and expertly chaired our Lab. Talks+ sessions. We opened with a live link to Boulby Underground Laboratory for a remote tour with lab. director Prof Sean Paling who made our visit to the lab. last year possible.

1704 live link to Boulby

Chair of UK Dark Matter, LUX collaborator, UCL lecturer and enormously generous supporter of our project Dr Cham Ghag gave us an in depth talk on the latest dark matter detection experiments and theories

1704 Guest Projects symposium Cham Ghag

Extraordinarily super clever Libby Heaney had us entangled with quantum theory, weaving and whispering and negotiating being in two states at the same time.

UCL History and Philosophy of Science lecturer Dr Chiara Ambrosio gave us her insights on visualising the invisible, and what can happen when art and science collide

1704 Guest Projects symposium Chiara Ambrosio

ending with a panel discussion joined by Kate Fahey on ideas from the day

1704 Panel discussion

and lots of conversations over supper…

I had finished etching the pentagon plates and I had made the dodecahedron frame – it was time to put it all together.

1704 test plates on frame

I did a test fit. Then spent 5 hours back at home heat pressing the plates with sublimation images; hints of dream worlds.

1704 heatpress aftermath.jpg

I was quite pleased with the results and went to bed

1704 universe puzzle.jpg

In the morning the colours had undergone some reaction to the metal and had either vanished or changed to a sort of purple hue (funnily enough often used to colour dark matter visualisations). I was also feeling I might just be making a large Moroccan lamp.

Time to embrace unexpected outcomes….

 

Dr. Chamkaur Ghag’s talk Dark Matter presented by super/collider at Second Home was inspirational in many ways. It was fascinating to hear a first hand account of how the search for dark matter is conducted and the challenges that face scientists looking for something so elusive. We learnt that there are underground laboratories around the world where research takes place away from background radiation which makes it harder to isolate any particles that might be dark matter.

The occurrence of dark matter was first theorized through the pioneering research of Swiss astronomer Fritz Zwicky who in 1933 looked at galaxy rotation curves and decided there was more going on than could be accounted for by the mass of the matter we could see. Something mysterious was holding the galaxies together. It is dark matter that allows structures in the universe to form by pulling matter into the gravitational field of pools of dark matter.

It could be that Plato accounted for dark matter when he assigned this role to the fifth platonic solid – the dodecahedron as ‘a fifth construction which God used for embroidering the constellations on the whole heaven’ – a concept that I used as a framework for Pairi Daêza

1511 pairi daeza

Susan Eyre Pairi Daêza

Using the net pattern that is used to construct a dodecahedron to mesh together images of constellations, an abandoned walled garden and a roundabout.  Recent imaging of dark matter derived from the way it distorts light shows it as a web like structure.

It is still not known what dark matter is, it does not reflect or emit light and doesn’t interact with the fundamental forces except gravity. At present there is speculation that it might be a WIMP – a weakly interacting massive particle and the difficulty in confirming this theory is in witnessing a particle collision with the nucleus of an atom. The majority of these particles pass through the earth without even hitting an atom.

It was exciting to find out we have one of these underground laboratories in the UK set in a working salt mine north of Whitby. The Boulby Underground Laboratory is a special place for science – ‘a quiet place in the Universe’. The ZEPLIN dark matter experiment ran here until 2011 using a liquid Xenon target. Xenon is a liquid gas that glows with a very pure light. Should a dark matter particle hit the atom nucleus there is a scintillation in the crystals and light is given off, also a little heat and ionisation. Only the dark matter particle will hit the nucleus of the atom, other particles, gamma rays etc will hit the electrons first giving a faint flash that can identify them. The detector must be very sensitive which is why they need to go deep underground away from background radiation. The program moved to LUX at a disused gold mine in the USA but is due to return to Boulby for work on a much larger scale.

1511 Underground Xenon detector

Studies at Boulby range from the search for Dark Matter in the Universe, to studies of cosmic rays and climate, astrobiology and life in extreme environments, development of techniques for deep 3D geological monitoring and studies of radioactivity in the environment.

The most exciting part is that a group of RCA graduates, myself included, will be able to visit the facilities early next year with a view to making work in response to the research taking place there. I am really hoping that we can organise a touring exhibition of work made in relation to this and engage people in these fascinating concepts, to think about our place in the universe and the extraordinary nature of everyday matter.

Elizabeth Murton who runs the peer crit group Engine ChatChat organised an artists sharing dinner at Bow Arts and invited along artists who use textiles in their work so we could chat and exchange ideas about our work. The guests included Kirsty Lowry, Lizzie Cannon, Katherine May, Jessica Hemmings, Jessica Smulder-Cohen, Ruby Hoette, Angela Maddock, Malina Busch, Jodie Carey, Lauren Jetty Howells-Green. We all gave a little presentation and chatted over dinner about our interests and the different reasons why we might use textiles in our work.

Lizzie Cannon meticulously repairs the cracks and decay of the material world.

Lizzie Cannon Corrosion (study with beads)

Lizzie Cannon Corrosion (study with beads)

Angela Maddock investigates how we might use craft practice, especially knitting, to question ideas about our relationships with people and objects.

Diana Springall has a passion for embroidery and hopes to instigate a major retrospective of embroidered works.

Diana Springall

Diana Springall

Jessica Hemmings is a writer who has researched textiles as a distinctive area of cultural practice and a developing field of scholarly research.

Ruby Hoette proposes alternate modes of accessing and engaging with fashion. She frames the garment as a unique artefact carrying traces of social and cultural interactions and transactions.

Ruby Hoette Lost and Collected

Ruby Hoette Lost and Collected

Lost and Collected is an ongoing project that documents and maps lost and discarde clothing and proposes an alternate understanding of the value of a garment.

Jessica Smulders Cohen’s passion is creating a sustainable textile and fashion industry her film is watchable via  the password is “fibreshed” https://vimeo.com/136830440

Kirsty Lowry is interested in psychological space and also makes work with light and I particularly like her electric prints using the conductive qualities of graphite.

Kirsty Lowry Gravis: Electric Print

Kirsty Lowry Gravis: Electric Print

Hannah Collins showing at Camden Arts Centre also investigates the emotional and psychological aspects of space. Her exhibition presented the open spaces of the dessert and the dense closure of the rain forest.

Hannah Collins The Fertile Forest

Hannah Collins The Fertile Forest

The poetry of the wall plaques was at odds with the clinical display of the photographs of medicinal plants of the rainforest. Two perspectives brought crashing together.

Hannah Collins The Fertile Forest

Hannah Collins The Fertile Forest

The Fertile Forest shared a resonance with the Taryn Simon exhibit at the Venice Bienalle. In Hannah Collins work it was power of knowledge that is being lost whereas Taryn Simon looked at displays of power in the corporate and political world, documenting the flowers used in the bouquets and arrangements that were the backdrop to moments in history.  Coming from very different places both artists show the diverse ways we use plants in our culture.

Taryn Simon

Taryn Simon Paperwork and the Will of Capital

Formal formality

Taryn Simon at Venice Biennale

Taryn Simon Paperwork and the Will of Capital

Katherine May is interested in plants as a resource for dyes and perfumes

Katherine May The Nature of Colour underground installation at a perfume factory in Floris

Katherine May The Nature of Colour underground installation at a perfume factory in Floris

Jodie Carey painstakingly extracts dyes from flowers to colour the yarn for her crochet. Flowers here are a metaphor for the fragility of life.

Jodie Carey Untitled(Bouquet)

Jodie Carey Untitled(Bouquet)

The bouquet of cut flowers prepared as a gift of love is already a symbol of death.

Danh Vo

Danh Vo

We are all flowers growing on this earth, picked by God at some point, a little earlier for some, a little later for others. One is crimson rose, another the virginal lily, another the humble violet. Let us all try to please the Lord and Master, with the perfume or radiance we were given.    from a letter written to his father by the soon to be executed J.Theophane Venard 1861.

Danh vo

Danh vo

Danh Vo invokes demons in the Danish Pavilion. Fragments of belief. A whiff of the Catholic Church, cherubs, polished wood. A mostly empty space, calm yet from these symbols we do not receive comfort but a jolt as we read lines spoken by the demon in The Exorcist (1973)

Danh Vo

Danh Vo

Do you know what she did, your cunting daughter?

Danh Vo

Danh Vo

I was lucky to meet Imogen Stidworthy as a visiting tutor at the RCA. I had a very inspiring tutorial with her which really helped me make decisions about my final show. She was showing some very moving work at the Imperial War Museum – a sculptural sound installation developed through interviewing two former British soldiers who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, and the wife of one of the soldiers, who lives with the effects of war at home.

Imogen Stidworthy The Work v5

Imogen Stidworthy The Work v5

She uses the voice as a sculptural material, engrained with traces of experience and transmits these voices through objects associated with conflict, exploring memory and the difficulty of communicating traumatic experience. We feel we are eavesdropping on a private perhaps internal conversation; echoing through the layered voices is each persons isolating pain.

It seemed appropriate for me to go and see Finding Paradise at Lacey Contemporary as this was the title of my dissertation.

1511 finding paradise

The gallery was vibrant with paintings of lush landscapes, forgotten pasts, and the ever-changing patterns of nature by Gemma Billington, Orlanda Broom and Ylva Kunze.

We can never inhabit paradise for more than a fleeting moment. It can be glimpsed on the edges of our vision and drive our passions but to find paradise is to experience ecstasy and a perpetuity of heightened bliss would actually be torturous to endure. Its power and attraction lies in its being momentary.

These fleeting moments and sensations which are not fully understood because they are only briefly glimpsed or experienced are what inspires the work of Malina Busch who explores material possibilities looking for traces of memory.

Malina Busch Curl Up

Malina Busch Curl Up

There was a political edge to this years Venice Biennale with the theme All The World’s Futures.

1511 Venice 2

It added a serious undercurrent to a lot of work which drew on documentary and news footage. Apart from Sean Lynch representing Ireland I didn’t have a list of must sees this year. At the last Biennale so many of my favourite people were showing, this was a chance to come across new names.

1511 Venice

I was keen to see what Sean Lynch would present as I had enjoyed meeting him during his workshop at Flat Time House and really like the way he works.

Sean Lynch

Sean Lynch Adventure:Capital

His installation Adventure:Capital encompasses his interests in stone carving and storytelling. He manages to pull mythology into London’s contemporary financial district. A narrated video sweeps through history from the pits and quarries to the monuments and symbols of power that are made from the stones pulled from the earth.

1511 Sean Lynch (3)

Sean Lynch Adventure:Capital

This inversion of material is dusted with magic as the narrator traces the polished stone of the corporate world back to the rocks of prehistory.

The gods, swollen with symbolism are everywhere, causing havoc with their greed, gluttony, fertility and abundance.

1511 Sean Lynch (2)

Sean Lynch Adventure:Capital

There was striking work in the Nordic Pavillion by Camille Norment.

In Rapture eerie sounds emanate from a thrusting bank of speakers on the ceiling.

Camille Norment Rapture

Camille Norment Rapture

The large empty space is skewed with shattered billboard sized glass windows. It looks like the aftermath of a cataclysmic disaster and holds you in the moment when the ringing in your ears could be shockwaves of an explosion that segue into the voices of angels heralding the appearance of the saviour.

Camille Norment Rapture

Camille Norment Rapture

The sounds could be coming from the fragmented glass as they have that quality of a finger across a wet goblet rim. It is at the pitch of angels and voices do join the chorus. In fact Norment has used a glass armonica to compose this soundscape, an 18th century instrument that creates ethereal music from glass and water and was invented by Benjamin Franklin.

Camille Norment Rapture

Camille Norment Rapture

The glass armonica was used to cure many ailments with its entrancing sounds but was later banned for fear it aroused sexual excitement in women bringing them to a state of rapture that might overstimulate and ultimately kill them.