Archives for posts with tag: cosmic particles

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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’.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. “

 

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Brilliant Finale Weekend for BEYOND Residency. Such a pleasure to be part of this project with such wonderful artists and hosts at Allenheads Contemporary Arts.

I was screening the video soft borders made with dance artist Paola Napolitano upstairs in the ACA gallery.

1807 Beyond Finale Weekend Susan Eyre

Sharing space with Alex Hughes photographic sculptures Fluid Planes which also looks at material bodies as permeable membranes.

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1807 Beyond Finale Weekend Alex Hughes (2)

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In soft borders phenomena beyond human scale are proportioned to that of the body, aiming to bring cosmic and quantum dimensions into an intimate sensory experience. Movement sequences performed by dance artist Paola Napolitano relate to Rudolf Laban’s dance notation system, choreutics, in turn influenced by Plato and the geometries of the platonic solids. 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.

In the gallery downstairs there was work from Nicola Ellis, Tom Beesley, Alan Smith, Jim Lloyd, Manpreet Kambo, Katie Turnbull and Kit MacArthur, Annie Carpenter, Lucien Anderson, Daksha Patel, Phyllida Bluemel, Robert Good.

Outside was Lucien Andersons The Humble Space Telescope. No telescope, no computer, only the human eye and the night sky. This will be set sail on the ACA cosmic pond to drift on the water whilst a porthole arbitrarily frames the stars, constellations and planets.

1807 Beyond Finale weekend Lucien Anderson (1)

There was an intervention Fire, Fluorspar, Water and Ice at the Blacksmith’s Forge from Nicola Ellis in response to local historical mining in the North Pennines and the future mining of near-earth asteroids.

Relighting the fire with added peat from a local ancient.

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Nicola Ellis video projection mash up of three sources of propellants from the past present and future of mining practices.

1807 Beyond Finale Weekend Nicola Ellis

The local mineral Fluorspar under UV light photographed by Jim Lloyd.

1807 Beyond Finale Weekend Jim Lloyd

Up at ACA Old School house was an installation of work from the OUTSTATION #1 project in which Robbie Coleman and Jo Hodges imagine an alternative history of the Soviet Space Program. OUTSTATION #2 was a twilight road trip travelling blindfolded through collapsing time zones, alternate histories and possible futures. Out on the darkening windy moors Deep Navigation techniques were deployed to guided our unconscious minds inwards.1807 Beyond Finale weekend Outstation 2

At the North Pennines Observatory and Cosmic Pond Sarah Sparkes and Ian Thompson presented a chance to listen to the microcosmos of pond life whilst watching the celestial life above through the observatory telescope or relaxing in the listening pod. It was an extraordinary experience, so noisy, like being in the jungle with the same whoops, buzzes and calls that resound from unknown depths.

1807 Beyond Finale Sarah Sparkes and Ian Thompson

In Search of Darkness research residency with Lumen in Grizedale forest was an opportunity to experience dark skies and make plans for the upcoming exhibition at Grizedale Forest Project Space.

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We had a warm welcome from Grizedale Forest Art Works and The Forestry Commission. There was a guided tour of the many and varied forest areas following ranger John’s vehicle along scorched dry tracks that sent up dust clouds worthy of a desert landscape, blinding and coating us in fine particles but adding to the excitement of being inducted into the forest. We were then given the key to the forest access gates to allow us to explore independently and try out ideas for future work.

I had brought along some mirror pentagons.

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We waited for sundown.

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Then headed into the forest

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To lay in the dark and gaze at the stars

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Allowing time for our eyes to adjust to the dark skies; the landscape becomes alien terrain

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Back in London a beautiful installation from Kate Fahey at Lewisham Art House repetitive strain gently leads the audience into the minds of those subjected to the physical and psychological trauma of conflict to consider bodily displacement, visual interference and its impact on the psyche as they lie under a billowing silver foil ceiling tinted with warm pinks reflected from a video that is always slightly beyond a point of focus.

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Liz Elton’s painting Fields (echoing the past local agricultural patchworked landscape) using degradable recycling bags creates a dramatic encounter when visiting the Florence Trust Summer Show.

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Dancer Sara Ruddock embodied the primordial in a performance presented  by Mayra Martin Ganzinotti drawing on fusions between life, fossils and rock in deep time geology.

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Patterns that appear familiar yet are from ancient ammonite fossils reach out from the past

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Kristina Chan works into her screen prints on birch plywood to give them a sense of aging and decay and reflect the history and natural entropy of the objects depicted.

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Visions Bleeding Edge Symposium on nonhuman vision, liquid and crystal intelligence and AI hosted by RCA research students. Esther Leslie, professor of Political Aesthetics at Birkbeck and Joanna Zylinska, professor of New Media and Communications at Goldsmiths gave fascinating talks.

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I was stunned by the image of a single atom of the metal strontium suspended in electric fields Single Atom In An Ion Trap, captured using an ordinary digital camera on a long exposure shot by David Nadlinger who said “The idea of being able to see a single atom with the naked eye had struck me as a wonderfully direct and visceral bridge between the minuscule quantum world and our macroscopic reality.” The atom is visible in this photograph because it absorbs and re-emits the bright light of the laser.

Further in awe at visuals of digital clay – matter that can be manipulated as easily as pixels in Photoshop. Discussions included turbidity; the cloudiness or haziness of a fluid caused by large numbers of individual particles that are generally invisible to the naked eye, similar to smoke in air. The measurement of turbidity is a key test of water quality.  Liquid Intelligence – nature holding memories, matter looking back at us (surveillance).  Imprint of matter – radial atoms in bones. Process – tactile scanning, post optical photography at the nano level.

AI = The Anthropocene Imperative.

When a computer watches, what can it deduce?

Over the last ten years or so, powerful algorithms and artificial intelligence networks have enabled computers to “see” autonomously. What does it mean that “seeing” no longer requires a human “seer” in the loop?

Tevor Paglen’s “Sight Machine” demonstrates to a live audience how machines “see” the world. ‘One of the most important reasons to create art is to make known the unknown’ –  Obscura worked with Paglen’s team to develop the computer and video systems to take a live video feed of the renowned Kronos Quartet’s performance, run it through actual off-the-shelf artificial intelligence surveillance algorithms and project what the AIs see and how they interpret it onto a screen above the musicians.

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With Paglen the framing becomes the work rather than what he shows. ( The parergon)

Artist Lauren McCarthy  offers to replace Alexa in your home. Bringing the human back. Lauren may not answer questions as quickly as Alexa but can respond with insight and emotion to your needs.

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After Image at Victoria Miro. Which are the images that stay with you, burnt on your retina and loaded into memory, out of the thousands upon thousands of images consumed daily? Sarah Sze always nails it. 

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Sarah Sze Images in Debris

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The scrunched paper of the tree images – like dark matter has suddenly become visible.

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The split stones were a second reminder recently of a time when Karen and I (aged about 12) used to ride our bikes to the beach to collect flint stones in our anorak hoods – bringing them back to ‘over the field’ and smashing them apart to see the colours inside.

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Proliferation of pond weed  – vibrant matter in action

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Sarah Sze Hammock (for A. Martin)

Superb work from Michelle Stuart in The Nature of Time at Alison Jacques Gallery, ‘Addressing the metaphysical while remaining profoundly rooted in in its own materiality.’

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Michelle Stuart In the Beginning: Time and Dark Matter

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Michelle Stuart Sacred Solstice Alignment

Into the dark recesses of The Horse Hospital for The Art Of Magic an exhibition and performance based on missing artefacts once housed in the archive of the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic.

Coloured strings first soaked in Alum dried over a wood fire and plaited together to form ‘a string of hurting’ they are worn wound around the neck, their purpose being to reduce swollen glands and restore loss of voice.

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In the studio WIP testing ideas to relate the loss of knowledge of the night sky through urban light pollution to the unknown mysteries of the universe yet to be revealed.

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Donna Haraway: Story Telling for Earthly Survival

 

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

 

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Bjorn Hatleskog Perpetual Jellyfish in Liminality at Gallery 46

 

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

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

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

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Archaeology came with the Anthropocene.

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

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

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

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Indrė Šerpytytė 2 Seconds of Colour

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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Gery Georgieva Europa Airlines Stand

 

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

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

 

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Sam Laughlin from the series A Certain Movement

 

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

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Mayra Martin Ganzinotti

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

Unexpected juxtapositions offer new paths to tread.

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

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

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Mary Yacoob Draft Drawings

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

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Mary Yacoob ‘Seraphim for Sanctus’ detail

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

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Gustave Doré The Divine Comedy’s Empyrean

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

1709 CIMM EXH.

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

1709 Luci Eldridge

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

1709 Melanie King

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

1709 Sarah Gillett

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

1709 Peter Glasgow

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

1709 Robert Good

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

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

1709 talks promo

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

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

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

1709 dark matters video

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

1709 Sarah Casey 1

Sarah Casey

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

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

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

1709 plus minus human

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

1709 CIMM Open Day dark matter life drawing

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

1709 xenon nucleus target

…tours of the exhibition…..

1709 CIMM Open Day gallery tour (2)

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

1709 Robert Good 2

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

1709 CIMM Open Day Activitiy tent

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

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

1709 cloud chamber1709 cosmic trail

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

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

1708 studio test

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

1709 random start points

I decide to use softground on aluminium – an unpredictable process

1709 applying softground

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

A satisfying peel

Nature echoing art again.

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

1709 etch process

it already feels cosmic

1709 removing stopout

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

1709 peel and etch (1)

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

1709 test light on etch.jpg

 

1708 Boulby Mine

Time to return to the North East.

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

1708 Yinka Shonibare

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

1708 publication

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

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

1708 CIMM

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

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

1708 CIMM before

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

1708 Hinderwell Scarecrow

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

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

1708 Elizabeth Murton installing

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

1708 CIMM install The Forms plan

Mapping out the universe/

1708 CIMM install The Forms

/mapping out the exhibition space

1708 CIMM installation in progress

1708 CIMM installation in progress 2

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

1708 Whitby Museum

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

1708 Private View

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

1708 CIMM PV

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

1708 CIMM Cloud Chamber

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

1708 cosmic trail

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

Events were underway….

1708 dry ice

 

 

 

Hito Steryl’s essay In Free Fall: A Thought Experiment on Vertical Perspective talks of groundlessness, the loss of a stable horizon  as we enter an age of remote viewing and constructed visualisations that can invoke disorientation and require acclimatisation to new perspectives. Gravity is explained by Einstein as the curvature of space time; we are constantly falling through space. A black hole occurs when a massive star runs out of fuel and collapses in upon itself, compacting its mass to be so dense it causes a deep pocket in space time so that anything falling into that hole beyond the event horizon has no chance of escape.

It may sound a little dramatic but when an event you have been focused on for so long is no longer on the horizon but you have passed into its gravitational field and are sucked into its vortex it can feel like free fall, you pass through so quickly and just keep falling.

At least we took some photographs on the way through. For many of these we are extremely grateful to Sara Lynd for capturing Laboratory of Dark Matters so expertly and considerately.

In the short space of time at Guest Projects between the Lab. Talks+ and the exhibition opening I worked on some images I had taken when running the cloud chamber.

1704 Open lab testing

The original intention had been to print images of cosmic particles from the cloud chamber onto acetate and fix them behind the etched aluminium plates on the dodecahedron frame, there would be a band of light inside that would rotate, scanning the universe.

1704 Open lab testing 2

In practise the cosmic particle images were lost behind the etched plates along with the open structure of the frame and the rotating light proved temperamental.

There was also a large expanse of wall available.

1704 Susan Eyre by Sara Lynd (5)

Susan Eyre The Forms photo Sara Lynd

The result was I have two works.

1704 Susan Eyre by Sara Lynd (1)

Susan Eyre Diazôgraphô photo Sara Lynd

The immutable truths Plato discovered in geometry belong to the realm of abstract thought he called The Forms. This is where ideals reside, outside the limitations of the physical world and where, if anywhere, paradise might be found.

1704 Susan Eyre

In visualisations of dark matter created from scientific data 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.

 

1704 Susan Eyre by Sara Lynd (4)

Susan Eyre The Forms (detail) photo Sara Lynd

 

These projected shadows of The Forms that govern the structures of our universe invoke a primordial response. Plato suggested we harbour memories of universal truths in our souls.

 

1704 Susan Eyre by Sara Lynd (3)

Susan Eyre Diazôgraphô photo Sara Lynd

 

The exhibition suddenly came together.

1704 Yinka Shonibare (1)

We were honoured by a visit from our lovely and generous host Yinka Shonibare.

1704 Yinka Shonibare (2)

and really appreciated his interest and chatting about our individual responses to dark matter research

1704 Amy Gear by Sara Lynd (2)

Amy Gear Nudge photo Sara Lynd

Amy Gear’s digital video work projected onto suspended body parts was edited from footage of the Women’s Self Defence and Green Screen Workshop that explored the visibility of women in the universe and the anticipation of the nucleus of a Xenon atom being nudged by a dark matter particle.

1704 Amy Gear by Sara Lynd (1)

Amy Gear Nudge photo Sara Lynd

We enjoyed the way the works overlapped with each other.

1704 Daniel Clark 2 by Sara Lynd (3)

Daniel Clark Veil photo Sara Lynd

Programming a vinyl cutting machine to draw with a marker pen instead of to cut, Daniel Clark created Veil, a reimagining of the single line engraving of the Face of Christ, known as the Sudarium of Saint Veronica, by Claude Mellan from 1649.

1704 Daniel Clark 2 by Sara Lynd (4)

Daniel Clark Veil photo Sara Lynd

Daniel also installed Edge-work, a series of radio receivers delineating the space with sound waves being received or distorted by the interference of the human form.

1704 Daniel Clark 2 by Sara Lynd (5)

Daniel Clark Edge-work photo Sara Lynd

Every so often the words of U.S. defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld echoed through the space… ‘ there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know.’

In keeping with pinning down the unknowns is Peter Glasgow’s work.

1704 Peter Glasgow by Sara Lynd

Peter Glasgow The Indicators of Illusive Ideas photo Sara Lynd

Hints lie in the MDF stand and printed text, a DVD booklet from Game of Thrones. These are really props for a live performance when the text is richly spoken and like the text itself they make no claims to legitimacy.

1704 Luci Eldridge by Sara Lynd (1)

Luci Eldridge Untitled (Dark Matter, Reconstructed) photo Sara Lynd

Luci Eldridge’s 3D print with silver leaf, reflected on privacy screen, and scanned Germanium fragments isolated in the blackness of space take on metaphors of time-warp spaceships and thundering meteors.

1704 Luci Eldridge by Sara Lynd (2)

Luci Eldridge Germanium Fragments photo Sara Lynd

Sarah Gillett uses methodology borrowed from Private Investigators creating a detectives evidence board to map the history of a gold ring that began in supernova explosions billions of years ago, arriving on the earth through an asteroid bombardment and now sits on her mothers finger.

1704 Sarah Gillett by Sara Lynd (3)

Sarah Gillett The Case of the Gold Ring  photo Sara Lynd

The journey of the ring from raw element to love token brings the incomprehensible and the everyday together in a story we can relate to.

1704 Sarah Gillett by Sara Lynd (2)

It gives us pause to wonder at the origins of matter that surrounds us.

Kate Fahey takes us further into the subconscious

1704 Kate Fahey by Sara Lynd (1)

Kate Fahey Dark Adaptation (video still) photo Sara Lynd

How long does it take our eyes to adapt to darkness? What other ways of seeing exist?

1704 Kate Fahey by Sara Lynd (5)

Kate Fahey Optimistic photo Sara Lynd

What senses should we rely on? What role does intuition play?

1704 Kate Fahey by Sara Lynd (4)

Kate Fahey Divination Sticks photo Sara Lynd

Her video installation, live performance and emblematic sculptures draw on old forms of knowledge and refer back to the lectures of Rudolf Steiner to open a dialogue between ancient and modern technologies.

1704 Kate Fahey by Sara Lynd (3)

Kate Fahey Feelers photo Sara Lynd

There is a hypnotic allure created in the dark space where Melanie King’s Cosmic Ray Oscillograph operates. A laser light is sporadically jolted by a solenoid translating data from the LUX project to traverse a rotating disc coated in phosphorescent powder.

1704 Melanie King by Sara Lynd

Melanie King Cosmic Ray Oscillograph photo Sara Lynd

While we cannot see dark matter directly, only infer it indirectly from the spin of the galaxies and gravitational lensing we sense something is present and speculate its structure and role in the universe. Elizabeth Murton tests these theories, creating hand spun porcelain galaxies vulnerable to breaking apart, strung across the universe palpably supported by the threads of dark matter.

1704 Elizabeth Murton by Sarah Lynd

Elizabeth Murton Connective Matter photo Sara Lynd

End of residency Going Dark gathering begins

1704 Going Dark (9)

Late viewing opened with a performance curated by Kate Fahey. Tim Zercie, as spiritual scientist urges us to awaken, to open our eyes and our minds, to engage our senses and be transported aided by the mesmeric playing of uileann piper John Devine.

1704 Going Dark (7)

Peter Glasgow’s spoken contemplation on the commentaries that run alongside a process; the vagaries of trying to get close to something but failing.

1704 Going Dark Peter Glasgow (1)

Captivating storytelling in The Case of the Gold Ring from Sarah Gillett

1704 Going Dark (10)

Light dimming

1704 Going Dark (11)

Within that ordinary space were hidden the building blocks of the universe.

1704 Going Dark (12)

Dark matter allows structures in the universe to form by pulling matter into its gravitational field.

1704 Going Dark (8)

 

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….

 

So I entered that tunnel where everything blurs and I shoot through the ether at uncontrollable speeds slammed rigid as I am blasted forward barely able to make any alterations to my predestined trajectory. Those faraway deadlines have arrived. I am writing from the middle. Trying to recall events that have passed unrecorded as the avalanche of admin hits home. Yet more funding applications, press releases, ticketing sites, contracts and applying emotional balm to frayed nerves.

Laboratory of Dark Matters ACE.jpg

And now I am slung out the other side. Limp and disorientated, I will try to make sense of what just happened.

I got myself an orange boiler suit in preparation.

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I was generously given dark matter visualisation images by Ralf Kaehler and astrophysicist Tom Abel from the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC), a joint institute of Stanford University and the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory who worked on Terrence Malick’s IMAX documentary  “Voyage of time”.

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From these images I created my own interpretations for screen printing sugar lift

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The image was screen-printed on both sides of an aluminium pentagon

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using a sugar lift solution of camp coffee and Indalca paste, really sticky sweet and two coats are good, allowing the first to dry before applying the second

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The plates are then immersed in a bitumen bath

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the pooling of dark matter

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Once dried they are put in hot water, bubbles gather and the image emerges

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ready to etch (a dodecahedron has 12 sides)

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copper sulphate that catches in the throat, salt on the lips + hot water (500g+ 500g +3l )

a light froth and a pink blush quickly spreads

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fizzing and belching so that the plates must be weighted down, the copper separates out to appear as a thick red lichen to be scooped out, bath refreshed four times and after eight hours the metal erodes and restoration can begin

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galaxies appear as light breaks through

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In the meantime I did the first cloud chamber test to see the trails of cosmic particles.

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It was incredible. Mesmerizing. Captivating. So much activity going on all the time that we are unaware of.

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It all happens on such a small scale but draws you in to this strange landscape

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I have Alan Walker of The University of Edinburgh to thank for all his advice on building the chamber and for providing the anodised aluminium plate that really helps ensure a good result.

I learnt some interesting things from Paul Hill of Awesome Astronomy in his talk Dark Side of the Moon. That all the metal we use on earth has been deposited here by asteroid and other collisions from outer space – any metal that was part of the original lump of matter that became earth is trapped molten at the core. That the moon doesn’t pull but push – I am still trying to come to terms with it being me moving not the sea when the tides turn. This needs further research.

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Another mind bending talk was Adventures in the 7th Dimension a UCL lunchtime talk from Dr Jason Lotay. I knew I was at the right lecture when he said one of his favourite shapes was the dodecahedron. In the 4th dimension it becomes a hyperdodecahedron made up of 120 dodecahedra. We can never really see it – it is always a projection back into 3D.

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I thought I was following, then suddenly from the 4th dimension we are in the 7th and I don’t know how I got there. Then I remembered it’s all maths. I can’t visualise this.

As you go up in dimensions there can be more symmetries. There are special symmetries that happen only in the 7th dimension. This is Holonomy G2. We don’t know how to combine quantum theory with gravity. String theory says you replace dots with lines – instead of having zero dimensions they are one dimensional. Lines can be curved, geometry can start to appear. M-theory combines all the different string theories together into one but you have to have 11 dimensions in the universe for this to work.

11 = 4 (3D + time) +7 (G2)    =  serendipity

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Then a different experience that was purely sensual, Tree of Codes had me in tears for sheer pleasure. Taking inspiration from Jonathan Safran Foer’s book of the same name, which was physically carved out of the pages of another novel,

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Wayne McGregor,  Jamie xx and Olafur Eliasson collaborate seamlessly

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a successful cross discipline collaboration is not about sharing knowledge but about tolerating each others ignorance…in this way gaps open for others to enter

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Hackney Today

Then it was time to move into Guest Projects….

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have been gathering tips and components to build a cloud chamber for viewing cosmic particles but mostly my time has been spent in funding application form filling.

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Feeling the admin has been taking over. Not a creative time and am also finding the ground is not so firm beneath our feet when it comes to securing the promise of a grant.

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Challenges ahead but Laboratory of Dark Matters is taking shape and we are listed on Guest Projects website link here.

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I have moved studio once again, only a very short distance but into my own space. This is so I can film the cosmic particles I hope to see in the cloud chamber in low lighting and mess about with dry ice. I am starting to plan work using imagery of the cosmic trails. Looking at pentagon facets of the dodecahedron.

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Made a trip to Allenheads Contemporary Arts for the final weekend of events of their major project As Above So Below that saw artists come together to explore a shared curiosity and quest to answer questions about our existence and relationship to our planet. Iron River was a beautiful live sound performance synched to a video installation from Bennett Hog and Sabine Vogel using an exposed piano frame, pebbles and bass flute to describe the extraction process of iron ore abundant in the local water.

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Eerie sounds, almost words, deep and earthy boomed from the woods and echoed around the valley in Neal Willis’ coded interpretation of barbed wire patterns What Language of the Fox? I thought Bill Aitchison’s Stuck In The Middle With You was brilliant. The recording of his performance was positioned in the spot where the original delivery took place during the summer – the view on the screen and out through the window was the same, just browner outside now.

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Listening to Bill make connections, set up a scenario only to knock it down became mesmerizing and addictive, I was swept away.  Listen to this work at the link above.

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Lucien Anderson’s Prototype 2, or Splashdown floats in enigmatic isolation on the Allenheads reservoir.

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There is video relay to an observatory tent but it looks like contact may be lost…

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Thresholds (Proximity, Distance and Loss) a poignant video installation from Jo Hodges and Robbie Coleman was running in the coal shed featuring sound from Lost Cosmonaut a recording from 1962 purporting to be broadcast from a damaged, State abandoned, Russian spacecraft overlaid onto imagery from a remote and subsequently abandoned Northumbrian village.

Pat Naldi’s research unearthed song lyrics written in criticism of the local mine owner during the early 19thC which the local Dale Singers performed on the green for Assembly 2016

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Alan Smith From NVC 100 to 10 Thoughts both reduces and expands inquiry as he condenses big questions into a series of 10 thoughts. Set in the cosy cosmos of his caravan it is a personal exploration of the very wide world we are invited to share in.

Bridget Kennedy installed The Measure Of It over the opening to Gin Hill Mine Shaft referencing the opening of seams for mining in medieval times when a prescribed square measure was termed an Ancient Meer and an oath was taken to claim ownership.

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“I swear by God and all the saints, and I call them all to witness, this is my vein; moreover if it’s not mine, I neither this my head or these my hands henceforth perform their functions” from De Re Metallica by Georgius Agricola.

Also made a visit to Yorkshire Sculpture Park

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The current headline show was from Not Vital – big shiny heavyweight sculpture, inside & outside. A lot of metal.

Was a nice surprise to discover Roger Hiorns Seizure has found a home here. Just as dazzling inside but a shame its place of genesis, the totally incongruous London estate setting is lost.

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Excited to experience James Turrell’s Deer Shelter Skyspace.

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The elements have left their mark on the floor.

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Incredible how the light changes the space, and framing the sky in this way makes it so luminous and almost tangible at the same time.

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When gazing up through the aperture of a ‘Skyspace’  it’s important to give your eyes time to adjust to gain the full reward. The contemplative state, like fire watching, that Turrell induces in his audience is common to all people through all time. He is fascinated by early cultures in which the position of the sun, moon and stars are responded to through environment. He appreciates light has a strong connection to our spiritual beliefs. Light is the materialization of energy. We are naturally eaters of light, our whole body is scattered with stray rods and cones outside of the retinal area which makes our relationship to light very primal. Our bodies are made from matter fed by the fruits of photosynthesis. Light is life. In using the stuff of nature as medium a direct connection is made between our body and the universe.

Caspar Sawyer’s exhibition Gamut at Thames-side Studios Gallery was another way of considering how our brains decipher the light messages that are fed to them, this show was about the pixilation of our world.

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Most striking are the giant heads of the 3 Kims triptych, leering in and out of focus as the angle and distance of perspective varies as you move around the gallery. The camera however, reverts the image back to tiny pixels and into focus. They are really not that clear to the naked eye when you are in the gallery.

The media construction of the larger than life characters made evident in oversized pixels.

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The sublime dissolving into sub-pixel RGB grids as we move too close.

Vibrant colour blocks as pixelated studies of constructed titles – internet searches for an image that best represents one word,

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reduced to pixels and blended with other word searches until the image represents the title – the source images never known even to the artist.

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And my favourite – This Moment is the Most Profound Experience You Will Ever Have in Your Whole Life (in progress)

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The image is revealed as a moving reflection of your body as you traverse the space, a shadow that casts light. Quite profound really. I am light.

Total takeover -Alex Hartley’s ‘architectural intervention’ A Gentle Collapsing II at Victoria Miro is wonderfully indulgent romanticism

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Stepping though the gallery doors to the garden becomes stepping though a portal to another time and place.

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The edges of reality blur as it isn’t clear where fantasy begins and ends. It is a place to enact and dream and enjoy its unreal realness.

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Other works inside are just as bewitching; paintings like translucent marble slabs  with hidden inner lives.

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Frosty surfaces shielding mysterious landscapes. Concrete pretending to be wood.

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I am always impressed by Alex Hartley.

Holly Graham showing After Harry Jacobs: The Studio and hypnotic looped animation After Harry Jacobs: Basket in Backdrop at ASC Studios as part of Artlicks weekend. ‘the works in the exhibition engage the backdrop as a context for action and seek to question the perception of its neutral or auxiliary role.’

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Scarlett Mueller creates her stunning hand printed woodcuts through layering techniques. At Anise Gallery for I Saw it Whole her work had been deconstructed and reimagined in a VR experience allowing the viewer to digitally enter the image. It was fun but unnecessary, her work has space for the viewer to enter without digital enhancement.

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There is something extra green about the green that is exposed on the river banks at low tide.  These glistening and gelatinous edges are captured by Anne Krinsky  in Tide Line Thames along with distressed defences like scabs barely holding together the banks of the old river. (old not ancient).

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Mysterious architecture, cogs, slippery steps, lengths and measures map out a life that dissects London, is passed over again and again without thinking. This exhibition is a pause in that momentum to look at the environment in the raw.

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Adding layers. Infinite Mix an off-site iteration from the Hayward Gallery. Sound and moving image. Some very raw and powerful images drilled into the mind with earworm rhythms and stanzas. Excellent stuff.

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Cyprien Gaillard Nightlife