Archives for posts with tag: dark skies

Work underway for the upcoming Reading Stones exhibition with artists Anne Krinsky and Carol Wyss. We will be installing site-specific works in response to the history and architecture of the ancient stone Tower of Saint Augustine, Hackney’s oldest building. Built in the 13th century, the tower houses a magnificent 16th century clock whose mechanisms still strike the hours, occupying three floors connected by steep spiral stone stairs.

1908 clock.jpg

The nature of time itself was a concept that St Augustine of Hippo grappled with in his philosophical texts sixteen centuries ago and is still perplexing us today; namely, how to equate the subjective experience of time with an objective understanding.

I am working on a video which makes reference to the scientific theory of time crystals; a model which proposes a structure that repeats in time, as well as in space.

1908 Time Crystal 2 wip

Patterns used in the film aim to mirror the crystal structure of the mineral beryl, commonly used to fashion the original reading stones which were used to magnify texts before the invention of optical glass. Reading Stones could be considered the first instruments used to create an enhanced sensory experience.

1907 reading stones WIP 1

I am playing with speeding up, slowing down and overlapping events to deconstruct a linear flow of time and interrogate the methods used to measure and experience time. I  spent a couple of nights in remote car parks setting up a time lapse sequence under darkish skies in anticipation of  the Perseids Meteor Shower and was rewarded with my first experience of live meteor action.

1908 perseids

I also think there was a faint glimmer of the Milky Way. These weren’t true dark sky areas but not bad for an hour to two hour drive from London.

1908 milky way

Also set up a time lapse station overnight on the Suffolk coast with the two wind turbine’s in view that dominate the Kessingland village skyline. I was surprised to see how much aerial activity goes on usually unnoticed.

1908 wind turbines

Another times lapse experiment focused on crystal growing over a week period.

1908 crystal growing
Filming slowing down time with a Go Pro set at 240 frames per second to record smashing rocks.

1908 stone smash

I made some earth meteorites to collide with the ground but the results not so great.

1908 earth meteorites

1908 earth collision.JPG

Beautiful light in Richmond Park when photographing the tree clock’s I plan to make into spinning time portals

1908 tree rings

Hot Sunday morning traipsing around a car boot sale for ceramic atrocities to line up for an energy exchange experience.

1908 time is up

 

A site visit to St. Augustine’s Tower gave me pause for thought over the hanging sculpture I had planned which would possibly be dangerous to attempt. So looking at projecting directly onto the brickwork in that corner instead. This is giving me all sorts of issues over projecting in portrait mode and whether the projector will cope being on its side.

1908 projection test

Testing ideas for a viewing circle on the tower roof.

1908 viewing circle test

Inside the circle will be the image of a rock or meteorite.

I have been auditioning candidates.

1908 rock candidate

1908 meteorite

On the final day of the exhibition we will have extra activities which will include a lithomancy board and the chance to have your fortune told by the fall of the stones.

The act of “reading stones” can refer to both the scientific practice of geological investigation and the ritual of lithomancy which seeks to interpret the patterns of stones cast by those wishing to divine the future.

1908 laboradite

Made a trip to Box Hill Fort for a photo shoot of the artists books I had made for the Insatiable Mind Exhibition. The Fort is one of a line of 13 mobilisation centres built in the 1890’s to protect London from the threat of invasion from continental Europe. Never used for its intended purpose, it is now part of the National Trust Box Hill property and home to three species of bats that have taken up residence in the tunnels originally built for ammunition storage.

1908 old fort box hill

1908 unbound detail

‘Unbound’ depicts images taken from my cloud chamber. A cloud chamber is a supersaturated sealed environment that enables us to see the trails of cosmic rays. These high energy particles know no boundaries, travel at high speed across the universe and continuously pass unseen through us and our world. The twelve pentagons form a dodecahedron, the solid described by Plato as ‘the fifth construction, which the god used for embroidering the constellations on the whole heaven.’

1908 unbound

1908 InOUT detail

‘In/Out’ expresses the energy and randomness of quantum fluctuation as particles pop in-and-out of existence in empty space. At this tiny scale the universe is mysterious and unpredictable. Originating from a large crystal ball which reflects and absorbs its surrounding landscape, the bright spheres act as a series of portals to alternative perspectives.

1908 InOUT

Chilled evening at the Science Gallery for Zen-On a collaborative presentation from artist Ansuman Biswas and astroparticle physicist Chamkaur Ghag.

‘We have many tools at our disposal to gather information about the world. Physicists are tuning their instruments to an unprecedented level of sensitivity. Even burying super-cooled xenon under a mountain in the hope of detecting the faintest, most elusive particles of matter.

Ultimately, however, whatever external instruments we use, all data is experienced by our bodily senses. These senses turn out to be more finely tuned and calibrated than anything we have yet invented. And they are available to all of us, for free.

In this interactive performance we will draw parallels between the physical world around us and the physical experience of the body. We will explore the instrumentation we have available to us and discover its limits and possibilities in search of the subtlest and most elusive elements of reality.’

1908 zen-on polaroid

I enjoyed the parallels drawn between the search for dark matter and the search for inner peace, both of which require PURITY, QUIET and SENSITIVITY in processing data, looking for patterns and understanding knowledge.

The Dark Matter exhibition at Science Gallery was not so inspiring in its curation but there were a few nuggets to be gleaned.

Through the AEgIS from Semiconductor

1908 Science gallery semiconductor

Images gathered from data captured from the AEGIS experiment based at CERN of violent collisions between matter and antimatter, along with tracks of newly created particles, all of which are too small to see with the human eye reveal the chaos of the unseen.  The artists call it a “space time-lapse” work, showing an animation created from around 100,000 still images.

Mirror Matter by Emilija Škarnulytė

1908 Science gallery Emilija Škarnulytė
In thousands of years, how will the gigantic structures dedicated to the pursuit of science be viewed? Will their remains be viewed the same way we think of Stonehenge or the pyramids – relics of a previous civilisation? Mirror Matter is set 10,000 years from now, with an all-seeing alien eye surveying the ruins of scientific machines that once probed and measured the Universe.

The public engrossed in building Utopia at Tate Modern Turbine Hall

1908 Tate Turbine Hall lego

Olafur Eliasson In Real LIfe at Tate Modern works well for social media posts but on the day I felt mostly disappointed with one or three exceptions, this may be because it was like an unruly crèche or being swamped with spectacle.

  1. Waterfall 2019 against a grey London sky

1908 Olafur Eliasson Waterfall 2019

2. Model Room 2003

1908 Olafur Eliason model room

3. Glacial Currents 2018

 

and A description of a reflection 1995

1908 Olafur Eliason description reflection

Loved this idea

1908 Olafur Eliason magnetic field

Went on to see Takis Sculptor of Magnetism, Light and Sound which was great (also no babies)

1908 Takis magnetism

‘Plato speaks of an artist turning the invisible world into the visible. I hope that someone seeing my sculpture is lifted out of his ordinary state’

1908 Takis Telelumiere No 4

‘I cannot think of my work as entirely my work, I’m only a transmitter, I simply bathe in energy’

1908 Takis sound and silence

‘We have chased the sacred symbols into the desert and replaced them with electronic eyes’

1908 Takis Music of the Spheres

Reading Timothy Morton ‘Being Ecological’ I started off thinking I am going to love this book but after a chapter of multiple examples of how to look at ‘being ecological’ this way or that way I was a bit frustrated. I missed the reading group to see how everyone else got on.

I did find it interesting to discover that the Anthropocene has a proposed official start date and it’s very recent – 1945 – the time when the first atomic bomb was detonated.

1908 nuclear explosion 1945.jpg

In January 2015, 26 of the 38 members of the International Anthropocene Working Group published a paper suggesting the Trinity test on 16 July 1945 as the starting point of the proposed new epoch.

Insatiable Mind exhibition opened at Salisbury Arts Centre with space inspired food and a heartfelt speech from visual arts and exhibitions manager Mirka Golden-Hann who writes in the accompanying catalogue;

“I was driven by the overarching urge which is innate to humanity. The urge to break away, the urge to explore, the urge which would force a human to construct a spaceship and the urge of another human to step into it in order to walk on the Moon: the same compulsion behind the collective force to bring down the Berlin Wall and with it the Iron Curtain. It was the power of human curiosity and the dissatisfaction with the familiar that provided the basis for this exhibition.”

1905 Insatiable Mind

The installation of my suspended sculpture Pentacoronae was surprisingly smooth considering the height of the supporting beams.

1905 Insatiable mind install 1

There was a great team to help and although one or two anxious moments when hooks came away from loops it went up very well.

1905 Insatiable mind install 2

This work was made to highlight the importance and need to preserve dark sky areas. As powerful technology opens new areas of the universe to our view, generating imagery we could never see with our naked eyes, we are drawn to experience space via mediated technologies. Our ancestors mapped the stars and drew shapes across the darkness which became familiar anchors for navigation, described mythological characters and foretold fortunes. Through this work the viewer is encouraged to seek darkness, stargaze, wonder, and map their own stories across the sky.

1905 Insatiable mind install 3

I also had two concertina books installed in the gallery cabinet.

Making these books turned out to be quite a fiddly process.

For the book Unbound I used images from my cloud chamber printed on transparencies cut into pentagons. Cosmic Rays know no boundaries as they pass through us all the time. The twelve pentagons form a dodecahedron, the solid described by Plato as ‘the fifth construction, which the god used for embroidering the constellations on the whole heaven.’

1905 unbound final book

In/Out expresses the energy and randomness of quantum fluctuation as particles pop in-and-out of existence in empty space. At this tiny scale the universe is mysterious and unpredictable.

I has thought I would draw the energy fields in white china-graph pencil but it turned out graphite looked much better

The bright spheres are four colour separation screen prints and act as a series of portals to alternative perspectives.

1905 In Out final book

It was great to meet some of the other artists in the show whose work was really interesting and beautiful.

1905 Eunmi Mimi Kim

Eunmi Mimi Kim Me Time video installation which uses her own sensitivity to sensory overload to explore sensory deprivation and isolation.

 

 

Katayoun Dowlatshahi  presented work form her series Orbit looking at the former cold war secret rocket testing site West High Down on the Isle of Wight.

19052 insatiable mind Katayoun Dowlatshahi

Oksana Chepelyk Collider immersive film screening in the theatre. Throwing significant moments in history into the collider to see what future particles get thrown out.

1905 Insatiable mind Oksana Chepelyk

I have been meeting up with students Sena Harayama, Romain Clement De Givry and Medad Newman from Imperial College Space Society.

1905 ICSEDS team

Supervised by senior lecturer in spacecraft engineering Dr Aaron Knoll they are building a cloud chamber to withstand a journey to the edge of the atmosphere in the payload of a high-altitude balloon. The chamber must be able to withstand the low pressure at high altitude which might make it break apart.

1905 cloud chamber

There needs to be a heat pad controlled by an Arduino processor to keep the batteries running to power the tracking device and cameras and maintain a suitable environment in the chamber to allow alcohol vapour to fall and create a cloud.

1905 Arduino

A cloud chamber enables us to see ionising trails made by radioactive and charged particles. Cosmic particles continuously collide violently with the Earth’s atmosphere then break up and shower down upon us.

1905 manufacture of chamber

Keeping the weight of components down is vital. The payload must not be over 2kg.

1905 weighing the chamber

We are hoping to capture cosmic ray activity on video as well as a view of Earth’s atmosphere as it blends from blue into the darkness of space. This footage will become part of the video installation I am creating for Continuum midsummer weekend at Allenheads Contemporary Arts.

1905 enter portal

This new work Aóratos will be installed at Allenheads Blacksmith’s Forge.

Black holes were once thought to be pure science fiction but in recent decades scientists have discovered that these extraordinary objects exist throughout our universe in all shapes and sizes and this year astoundingly have even produced an image of one.

1904 Black hole image

Einstein’s theory of general relativity written in 1915 predicted the existence of black holes and is also consistent with the possibility of gravitational tunnels known as wormholes. It could be that there is a hidden web of planck scale wormholes linking all points in space. Theoretically, threaded through these tiny holes would be filaments of cosmic strings created in the primitive goo of early matter and flung across space when the universe burst into existence.

However, to traverse space by means of a wormhole would require vast amounts of negative energy, not something usually found on Earth yet in the current political climate in no short supply.

Making use of the Blacksmith’s hearth visitors will be invited to burn offerings of negative energy to power a ‘wormhole’.

1905 forge hearth.jpg

Special paper will be provided for people to write, draw or furiously scribble their own symbols of negative energy. These offerings will be burnt in the forge hearth releasing any pent-up negative energy to power the wormhole portal above.

I have been experimenting with chemicals to make the paper.

Really pleased with the results.

1905 chemical burn

1905 magic fire chemicals
It’s fine. I am sealing the chemicals inside two sheets of paper so no skin contact for visitors.

1905 paper burn.jpg

In my search to discover how to make coloured fire I did make a visit to Davenports magic shop in a very unprepossessing but not uninhabited pedestrian subway. A dismal setting for a dismal shop where I got no help at all. Felt an absolute muggle.

1905 davenports magic shop

The risks and obstacles of entering a wormhole include creating enough negative energy to open the wormhole mouth wide enough to weaken the gravitational tidal forces which would rip travellers apart; keeping it from collapsing so travellers are not indefinitely trapped inside; exceeding the speed of light and avoiding incineration from deadly high radiation.

On Earth we are protected from radioactive particles by the atmosphere and the magnetic field.

1905 magnetic field dark.jpg

Aóratos translates as ‘unseen’. The videos in the installation will look at hidden landscapes and usually unseen perspectives. For research I have been exploring rabbit holes, bee holes, mice holes and abandoned tunnels with my endoscope camera.
1905 ON LOCATION

A fascinating dark world of root webs and filaments interconnecting tunnels.

 

1905 turbulence.jpg

The reading group is persevering with Geoffrey West’s Scale despite the woolly editing and rambling digressions it does hold some interesting facts. I liked the section about turbulence. Fluid motion is chaotic and objects moving through water or air are subject to very different outcomes at different scales. Froude introduced a scaling methodology used in industry that has become increasingly sophisticated. Lord Raleigh emphasized the primary role of the ‘dimensionless’ number in scaling. This is a pure number such as pi which does not change depending on which unit of measurement is used, the ratio of a circumference of a circle to its diameter is always the same. “Pi embodies the universal quality of ‘circleness'”

1905 Gaia Luke Jerram

Visited the impressive sphere Gaia by Luke Jerram in Salisbury Cathedral as part of Salisbury International Arts Festival. Stunning architecture.

1905 salisbury cathedral1905 salisbury cathedral 1

Extraordinary that this majestic building piercing the sky has the most shallow of foundations and unless they keep a regular check on the water level through a little door in the floor the weight of the spire would not only bend the supporting columns but might tumble down.

I was excited to find a dodecahedron at the pinnacle amongst platonic solids topping an elaborate tomb.

1905 dodecahedron

Also the oldest working clock was fascinating to see

1905 oldest working clock

“How can the past and future be, when the past no longer is, and the future is not yet? As for the present, if it were always present and never moved on to become the past, it would not be time, but eternity.”

― St. Augustine of Hippo

New work pentacoronae installed at Grizedale Project Space for In Search of Darkness exhibition curated by art collective Lumen Studios.

1809 Pentacoronae

“Sky glow” is the yellow umbra leaching into the night sky from light polluting urban areas; obscuring our view of the constellations, shrinking our universe and severing our relationship to the stars.
Our ancestors mapped the stars and the shapes and patterns they drew across the darkness became familiar anchors for navigation; describing mythological characters; aligning celestial cycles with the fortunes of everyday life and revealing harbingers of portentous events. This rich history is being lost to a population bathed in the radiant intensity of artificial illumination.

1809 Pentacoronae 2
Light doesn’t always make things more visible. There are other ways to discover the mysteries of the universe and look beyond what our immediate senses tell us is there. Dark Matter is a significant component of the universe, yet we cannot see it. It doesn’t reflect or emit light and so scientists are finding other ways to detect it. In digital visualisations of Dark Matter, organic patterns emerge that could be the veins under our skin or the spreading branches of trees.

1809 Pentacoronae 1
As ever more powerful telescopes and data gathering equipment open new areas of the universe to our view, generating imagery we could never see with our naked eyes, we are drawn to experience space via mediated technologies. Dark sky areas such as Grizedale Forest are precious locations where we can still stargaze, wonder and map our own stories across the sky.

1809 Grizedale Forest

Following on from the group residency earlier in the year we returned

1809 Forest WIP

with new work responding to the naturally dark skies of the Grizedale area  Maria Luigia Gioffre  – a re-tracing of the astral map of 7 July 2018

1809 Maria Luigia Gioffre credit John Hooper

Maria Luigia Gioffre Genealogy of an Asemantic Night – photo John Hooper

Eunjung Kim the journey of unseen travellers across time, memory, the cosmos

1809 eunjumg kim

Julie Hill-‘intimate immensity’ the milky way as bodily encounter

1809 Julie Hill credit John Hooper

Julie F. Hill Dark River photo John Hooper

Anthony Carr– circadian rhythms disrupted

1809 Anthony Carr credit John Hooper

Anthony Carr The Moon, Is The Only Light We’ll See photo John Hooper

Melanie King– ancient light captured

1809 Melanie King credit John Hooper

Melanie King Ancient Light, Grizedale Forest  photo John Hooper

Louise Beer— sounds of the tides slowed; an echo from 420 million years ago

1809 Louise Beer credit John Hooper

Louise Beer Beneath the Moon’s Gaze photo John Hooper

Rebecca Huxley— twilight transitions, a manifesto to darkness

1809 rebecca huxley

Rebecca Huxley 18 degrees below the Horizon 

Diego Valente— “Forests aren’t simply collections of trees….”

1809 Diego Valente

Diego Valente A Copy With No Original

and William Arnold – common lepidopteran misadventures in artificial light

1809 William Arnold 2

William Arnold Dark Spectacle

1809 project Space.jpg

I had the cloud chamber running at the opening event. Photo courtesy of Lumen

1809 Cloud Chamber demo

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. It is a sealed environment containing a supersaturated vapour of pure alcohol sitting over dry ice. Charged particles passing through the chamber cause the vapour to condense resulting in tiny cascading trails. 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.

1809 Cloud Chamber demo 2

Finale! (another great shot from John Hooper)

1809 dry ice credit John Hooper

At the studio I am moving just across the corridor – mostly so I will have a window but I also gain more space which was great timing to lay out and assemble the suspended sculpture for Grizedale in an empty room.

1809 laying out

1809 assembling

So glad I spent time on careful packing for transporting

1809 preparing for install– getting it up on the scaffolding and hanging was not easy when only one person present has ladder training and therefore allowed at height due to local council health and safety directives.  Thankfully Sean took it in his stride.

1809 install angst

Out of the Studio
Holly Graham Sweet Swollen at Jerwood Project Space. The seductive title is evocative of succulent ripened fruit but also the tenderness of a bruise. This poignant work draws on the history of sugar as a luxury brought to our shores in the 18th century with the taint of colonial violence and the demeaning of those forced to produce treats for European palates. A series of sugar lift etchings depict hands in isolation, the gestures originating from the stylised ‘blackamoor’ figurines that ornament receptacles of the bitter sweet cargo.

1809 Holly Graham

Charmaine Watkiss showing beautiful ephemeral work at the MA Drawing Final Show at Wimbledon College of Art. A collision of then and now, displacement of body and soul, reaching back for symbols of meaning.

Highlights at this years New Scientist Live were talks from Jon Butterworth – Journeys into Particle Physics, Roberto Trotta – What Has Einstein ever done for you? and Dean Burnett – What makes your brain happy?

I came away thinking about what influences my perception of time and the chemicals that subtlety alter how I experience the world.

If you travel close to the speed of light, distances contract in your direction of motion, while time will dilate more and more the faster you move.  A muon lives: about 2.2 microseconds on average. The speed limit of the Universe = the speed of light. Something moving at the speed of light that only lives 2.2 microseconds, should make it only 0.66 kilometers before decaying. A muon has similar properties to an electron. However, it is 200 times heavier. Muons travel at approximately 98% of the speed of light. The closer you move to the speed of light, the slower your clock appears to run. Cosmic ray muons have such high energies that a journey which takes about 300 microseconds from our point-of-view only takes about 1 microsecond for the muon. Time dilation allows these particles to live.

1802 muon

I am beginning research for the High Altitude Balloon project. I need so much help! The good people of the HAB community are thankfully giving me lots of advice. One big concern is that the Allenheads Contemporary Arts potential launch site is high up and in the centre of a very narrow bit of the UK.  Wind makes for a difficult launch and could just take it straight out to sea.

1809 windy HAB.jpg

One of my first jobs is to check with the Civil Aviation Authority that the launch site is safe from their perspective.

18090 CAA.JPG

I want to film particularly at the altitude where peak cosmic ray activity takes place – this is where the secondary particles that we see in the cloud chamber are smashed into existence.  As the particle activity will be invisible I want to film the aesthetics of the curve of the earth and blue haze of the atmosphere bleeding into the blackness of space. I think my target height will be 30km.

1809 cosmic trails.jpg

Cosmic rays are mostly protons and atomic nuclei created in stars and super novae explosions or other unknown events.  Sometimes a rare one will arrive with unimaginably high energy. The first “Oh-My-God particle” was recorded in October 1991 and had an energy 40 million times greater than the Large Hadron Collider can generate with 100 quintillion the photon energy of visible light, it was travelling at 99.999 999 999 999 999 999 999 51% the speed of light. One of these could be passing through you right now.

 

I realised how much I have to learn about weather ballooning while attending the UK High Altitude Society Conference where I was kindly invited to give a short presentation about my hopes to launch my own balloon to film at the edge of the earth’s atmosphere. It was also Helium’s birthday and a cake had been prepared to launch into near space.

1808 UKHAS Balloon launch cake

I found much of the language of the day to be beyond my knowledge with many of the enthusiasts also keen coders and electronic wizards.

1808 UKHAS Balloon launch 1

Still my presentation received a warm response and I am hoping I now have some contacts to call upon as I begin to get to grips with the logistics and add to my list of what is required.

1808 UKHAS Balloon launch

There was a particular enthusiasm to actually launch a cloud chamber. This could be a first if we manage to achieve such a venture.

1808 UKHAS Balloon launch 6.jpg

It is all a delicate balance of weight, helium and wind direction.

1808 UKHAS Balloon launch 4

Wonderful to see the launch.

1808 UKHAS Balloon launch 5

The really tricky bit is the tracking and retrieval. I’m not sure yet if they did get it back as I haven’t yet mastered navigating the websites let alone the skies.

In the studio

– work in progress for In Search of Darkness exhibition at Grizedale Project Space began with some tiny maquettes.

1808 pentagon layout

With valuable advice from John Purcell‘s team helping to choose suitable card I scaled up.

1808 pentacoronae wip 5

Added hand thrown acquatint etched starry skies

1808 pentacoronae wip 4

some screen printed dark matter visualisations and hand drawn star maps

1808 pentacoronae wip 3

folded with light pollution images printed on metallic c-type (from the print space)

1808 pentacoronae wip

and repeated 12 times to reflect the sides of a dodecahedron.

1808 pentacoronae wip 2

Out of the studio

– excellent afternoon spent captivated by Guy Oliver’s performative Songs of Eternal Praise for And You Thought I Was Bad at Zabludowicz Collection. Delivered in sermon style with attendant angelic voiced choir and backing musician; politics and pop culture collide in excruciating discord.

1808 Guy Oliver

Enjoyed Lee Bul’s exuberant mix of materials from the organic to the industrial and all encompassing diatribe on power, politics and the decay under the gloss of idealism at Hayward Gallery.

1808 Lee Bul 3

Lee Bul – Willing To Be Vulnerable

‘I’m fascinated by failures, as well as by the dreams that the dreamers knew could never materialize’  Lee Bul

1808 Lee Bul 2

Lee Bul Thaw (Takaki Masao)

changing landscapes – brutalist concrete edifices – impact of an individual – held in ice – history returning – climate change

1808 Lee Bul 1

Lee Bul Heaven and Earth

Dark depths of the psyche.

Came across this obelisk out in Wiltshire. It is rather stubby and further prevented from piercing the sky by the tree that has grown over the last 250 years to embrace it.

1808 Melksham obelisk

William Eyres – we almost share a name and do share a birth day and month. Born at the time when the Herschel brother and sister astronomers were discovering Uranus and its moons; the moons of Saturn, infrared radiation and performing deep sky surveys. You died just before electric light spread its glow into the night.
Dark skies were yours.