Archives for posts with tag: Geoffrey West

Reading stones could be considered the first instruments used to create an enhanced sensory experience. Originally made from ground and polished rock crystal or beryl, they were placed over texts to magnify them.

1909 reading stones

This early optical technology paved the way toward observation of the furthest reaches of the universe and its minutest components.

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Both the telescope and microscope are referenced by the sculpture Baetylus installed on St. Augustine’s Tower roof for the exhibition Reading Stones.

1909 Baetylus installed St Augustines Tower

Baetylus (meaning from the house of god), are sacred stones/meteorites of divine origin.

In this case sold to me for £6, a 15mm Nickel Iron Meteorite from Campo Del Cielo Argentina, falling 5000-6000 years ago. Photographed with a macro lens and direct to media printed onto acrylic by Genesis printing. The steel frame expertly welded by Nick Amott of J.& R. Precision Engineers.

1909 welding

The wind and rain on the roof soon added to the piece.

1909 Baetylus meteor shower

rain + meteor = meteor shower

An object falling through space distorts not only the space it travels through but also time as space and time are inexorably linked.

Each visit to the roof gave a different experience of the work.

1909 Baetylus 1

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.

1909 Lithomancy reading

Offering ‘readings’ gave visitors a personal perspective to consider when thinking about how we experience time and negotiate the future. The board, a salvaged old table top was screen printed with a design created after researching the ancient art of lithomancy and prevalent variations. I gave the board a geological emphasis and aligned the areas of activity with traditional associations such as sedimentary = home, boulders = obstacles and challenges, strata = knowledge and experience.

1909 lithomancy board

The gemstones were assigned properties according to traditional meanings.

1909 assigning stones

It was magical to spend so much time within the thick stone walls of St. Augustine’s Tower, ascending and descending the steep narrow spiral stairs adding yet another infinitesimal trace to the worn history of the steps.

1909 St Augustine tower stairs

Working with Carol Wyss and Anne Krinsky on this project was a pleasure and we were delighted with the public response to the exhibition.

1909 Carol Wyss All that remains

Carol Wyss All That Remains 

“My aim is to re-create the original ‘UR’ bone which has neither gender nor race, the first ever bone which existed, the one which fell from heaven or space. It is an attempt at merging all the bones of the human skeleton into one entity, which then becomes the common denominator, the starting point from which all bones and consequently all humans came. I am referring to the bible story of Eve’s creation from Adam’s rib, the Greek myth of Pyrrha with the creation of humans from the stones / bones of the earth and Da Vinci’s perfectly proportional Vitruvian man, as well as to science’s search for the ultimate building blocks of our universe.” Carol Wyss

1909 Carol Wyss

1909 Carol Wyss Os

Carol Wyss Os

Deucalion and his wife Pyrrha were the only survivors of the great deluge and landed on Mount Parnassus, the only place spared by the flood.
Deucalion consulted an oracle of Themis about how to repopulate the earth. He was told to throw the bones of his mother behind his shoulder.
Deucalion and Pyrrha understood the “mother” to be Gaia, the mother of all living things, and the “bones” to be rocks.
They threw the rocks behind their shoulders, which soon began to lose their hardness and change form.
Their mass grew greater, and the beginnings of human form emerged.
The parts that were soft and moist became skin, the veins of the rock became people’s veins, and the hardest parts of the rocks became bones.
The stones thrown by Pyrrha became women; those thrown by Deucalion became men.

1909 Carol Wyss Osmosis

Carol Wyss Osmosis

All the sons of Adam are part of
One single body,
They are of the same essence.
When time afflicts us with pain
In one part of that body
All the other parts feel it too.
If you fail to feel the pain of others
You do not deserve the name of man.
― Saadi Shirazi 1258

1909 Anne Krinsky Ephemera Scrolls 2

Anne Krinsky Ephemera Scrolls

“I am interested in the ephemeral nature of the physical world – in the transformation of terrains and in the erosion of stone, wood and metal over time. In developing imagery for the Ephemera scrolls, I wanted to create visual relationships across time and space. I photographed the Tower’s clock mechanism and gravestones from the surrounding garden and other London churchyards. During a recent residency at Oberpfalzer Kunstlerhaus in Schwandorf, Germany, I photographed the River Naab, as its water levels dropped during the hottest June on record. I feel impelled to document changes to wetlands and waterways in this time of accelerating climate change.” Anne Krinsky

1909 Anne Krinsky Ephemera Scrolls 1

Anne Krinsky Ephemera Scrolls

Time Crystals video work installed alongside the tower’s ancient clock builds on an interest in the mystery of time viewed across human, cosmological and quantum scales.

1909 St Augustines Tower Clock

The clock by which we measure time on our watches and digital devices is very misleading;
it is determined by the daily rotation of the Earth around its axis and its annual rotation around the sun.
This astronomical time is linear and regular.
But the actual clock by which we live our socioeconomic lives is an emergent phenomenon determined by the collective forces of social interaction:
it is continually and systematically speeding up relative to objective astronomical time.
– Geoffrey West, 2017

The patterns employed within the film and spilling out from the projection as 3D triangles mirror the crystal structure of the mineral beryl, commonly used to fashion the original reading stones.

1909 time crystals video still

The work also makes reference to the scientific theory of time crystals; a model which proposes a structure that repeats in time, as well as in space. Variations in perspective are manipulated through the speeding up, slowing down and overlapping of events to deconstruct a linear flow of time and interrogate the methods by which humans measure and experience this phenomenon.

It is within my mind then, that I measure time. I must not allow my mind to insist that time is something objective.
When I measure time, I am measuring something in the present of my mind. Either this is time, or I have no idea what time is.
― St. Augustine of Hippo, 397

1909 Time Crystals

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, 397

Using Carlo Rovelli’s book The Order Of Time as a reference guide and the quotes of St. Augustine as points of enquiry the repeating layered films were made using time lapse and slow motion; recording the exchange of energy as objects collide, heat up, cool down, travel at speed, transform, reflect and absorb, display traces of past events and embark on supposedly predictable trajectories. How we experience time is relative to where we are in the universe, our proximity to a larger mass and how fast we are moving.

 

A crystal is like a class of children arranged for drill, but standing at ease,
so that while the class as a whole has regularity both in time and space, each individual child is a little fidgety.
– Dame Kathleen Lonsdale, 1948

The fabric of the ancient building also helped determine the work installed. The 3D element of my video installation needed to be built in situ. One challenge was projecting in portrait mode to neatly fit the wall space between window and clock mechanism. Projectors are not supposed to be set on their side but with an adapted ceiling mount allowing clear air vents for the fan it all worked out fine.

1909 making triangles

Clamps, weights, stitching, balancing and non invasive means of installing had to be employed not to harm the Grade I listed heritage site.

1909 time crystals video installation detail

On location. After much searching a secret tower in the woods was found, knotted within dense undergrowth. Hidden in time and space.

1909 secret tower

Artlyst review of Reading Stones. by Jude Cowan Montague.

A pleasure to be asked back to Guest Projects for a filmed interview about my experience during the residency Laboratory of Dark Matters for a promotional video to launch Yinka Shonibare’s new residency programme opening in Lagos.

 

I attended the UK High Altitude Society Conference 2019 to give an update on the project aiming to launch a cloud chamber in a high altitude balloon.

1909 UKHAS 2019 2.JPG

Live Stream of conference presentations – my presentation at 3:30 in.

Very interesting talk from Michael Johnson on citizen space exploration & inflatable spacecraft, building on past developments of inflatable spacecraft from NASA new technology could see thousands of tiny spacecraft launched within days as opposed to decades.

1909 pocket spacecraft 3

1909 pocket spacecraft 4

He also allowed us to hold the tiny spacecraft.

Finished working on video sculpture At a distance which has been installed at The Museum of Cornish Life, Helston for the Lizard Point Residency Touring Exhibition.

1909 at a distance install

This residency was inspired by an incredible communications double anniversary in 2019, for Lizard Lighthouse (400 years) and Goonhilly Earth Station (50 years: transmission of the first lunar landings), considering the importance of life-saving lighthouse beacons and internationally important transmissions across the sea and sky.

1909 Lizard Lighthouse

Lizard Point, overlooking the Atlantic, benefits from natural darkness, natural beauty and is a great spot for viewing the Moon, stars and meteor showers.

1909 Lizard Lighthouse 21909 LIGHTHOUSE beam

Staying on site, next door to the famous Lizard Lighthouse, artists had the opportunity to create works responding to the variety of astronomical sights found there, as well as be inspired by the rich communications heritage along this very special part of the SW coastal path.

Solitary figures using semaphore flags sign ‘We Are One’ out across the ocean; filmed on 29th March 2019 (the first date the UK was supposed to leave the EU).

1909 At a distance 1

As in entanglement theory where two paired electrons mirror each other at a distance it is hoped the message will be echoed back. The work looks at methods of communication over distance. It relates this to the mysterious twinning of electrons in quantum entanglement where particles link in a way that they instantly affect each other, even over vast distances, and which Einstein famously called ‘spooky action at a distance’. The video is back projected onto a Fresnel lens, the type found in lighthouses to increase luminosity of the lamps beam, another form of messaging over distance.

1909 At a distance 2

The video sequences through five sets of semaphore messages. Each message is echoed back within a swirling force field emanating from across the ocean repeating the pattern of the flag representing entanglement. This is interspersed with imagery from video captured of the Lizard Point Lighthouse Lamp slowly waking and powering up from dim to dazzling light, split and mirrored in a circle of sending and receiving messages.

 

The Museum of Cornish Life is surprisingly vast and crowded with innumerable artefacts at every scale. A fearsome cider press the size of a lorry included. The long passage through the museum to the exhibition rooms encounters an overwhelming volume of items jostling for attention.

1909 Helston museum

Here are the records of events from which we infer the past.

While in Cornwall there was time for a quick visit to Tate St. Ives. An unexpected treat to find Otobong Nkanga’s excellent exhibition From Where I Stand looking at the glittery desirability of minerals and the scars left on the landscape and people by it’s extraction.

What could a monument be? Is it the thing we build or the thing we have taken away from? A place of emptiness is the monument to remind us there is no possibility of getting back to what has been – Otobong Nkanga

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1907 prints of 35mm at 35km 0.jpg

Great excitement at the Gate Darkroom as I was helped to develop and print the 35mm film that had reached over 35km altitude as stowaway in the payload of a high altitude balloon.

1907 35mm at 35km

New to film processing; my first job was to insert arms into a light tight bag and get the film out of the cannister and wind it onto a large spool while not being able to see what I was doing. I learnt about the Digital Truth App and followed instructions in order to develop, stop and fix the negatives, then put them under the darkroom viewer to see the results.

If any record was made of the cosmic ray activity at high altitude I expected it to be just tiny white specks of light where the high energy particle hit the sensitive film emulsion.

At first it looked like there was nothing on the film but on closer inspection there are quite a lot of specks of light.

1907 negative scan 35mm at 35km

Are these faint white dots evidence of cosmic particle activity or just general noise in the large crystals of the photosensitive emulsion?

 

There is a link here to a short video of the preparations, launch and outcome of sending a cloud chamber up in the payload of a high altitude balloon which fed into the work Aóratos.

1907 Aoratos clip 11907 Aoratos clip 5

Insatiable Mind Exhibition at Salisbury Arts Centre came to a close1905 Insatiable Mind Wonderful technicians ensured Pentacoronae smooth taken down

1907 pentacoronae.jpg

Editing video of semaphore performance filmed on 29th March (the first date the UK was supposed to leave the EU) for At A Distance to be back projected onto a Fresnel lens for the upcoming exhibition in Cornwall and London looking at ways of communication across distance inspired by the heritage or the Cornish coastal area.

1907 semaphore

Playing with ideas for an etching of my iris and using magnetism to explore magnetoreception, something evident in birds and some mammals that we may once have had access to as a way of navigating.

ImageJ=1.46i

Plans are also underway for new work for Reading Stones exhibition at St. Augustine’s Tower, the oldest building in Hackney.

Reading Stones could be considered as the first instruments used to create an enhanced sensory experience. Originally made from ground and polished rock crystal or beryl they were placed over texts for the purposes of magnification. This early optical technology paved the way towards the observation of the furthest reaches of the universe and its minutest components.

1907 reading stones WIP 11907 reading stones WIP 2

Testing some lens options for visitors to use to read tiny hidden texts.

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

1907 beryl structure scale

Looking at the molecular crystal structure of beryl to map out the structure for a video. The word brilliance is probably derived from the ancient Greek word for beryl, berullos.

The tower is defined by a magnificent 16th century clock whose mechanisms still strike the hours and occupy three floors connected by narrow stone spiral stairs.

1907 St. Augustine's 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.

The New Materialism Reading Group has meandered to the conclusion of Geoffrey West’s book Scale to discover an open ended question.  Can we avoid the mother of all singularities and the stagnation and collapse of civilisation with another paradigm shift through innovation or deurbanization?

“The time between the ‘Computer Age’ and the ‘Information and Digital Age’ was no more than about thirty years – to be compared with the thousands of years between the Stone, Bronze and Iron ages.

The clock by which we measure time on our watches and digital devices is very misleading; it is determined by the daily rotation of the Earth around its axis and its annual rotation around the sun. This astronomical time is linear and regular. But the actual clock by which we live our socioeconomic lives is an emergent phenomenon determined by the collective forces of social interaction: it is continually and systematically speeding up relative to objective astronomical time.”    Geoffrey West

1907 stonehenge.jpg

We also looked at an article from the Guardian questioning Donna Haraway on her position relative to a post-truth society.

1907 Donna Haraway

Referring back decades to what seems a golden age of freedom and creativity she was clear that she never advocated truth as just a perspective; that reality is not a question of belief but of worlding, inhabiting and testing if things hold. She stresses the importance of not shying away from ‘strategic essentialism’ which is using the same language as those you wish to engage and make progress with and opening up to what is possible through play and creativity. There are huge problems to address. But don’t be negative.

1907 fireball.jpg

I have also been reading Antimatter by Frank Close. Fascinating to read about the dazzling explosive fireball witnessed in a remote Tunguska river valley in 1908, a thousand miles east of Moscow, which left a charred circle of devastation; threw so much dust and smoke into the atmosphere around the globe that in London the midnight sky was lit up by photons scattering off the dense air pollution; but left no crater.

1907 Tunguska event

Antimatter is found on Earth in the form of the positron. These positively charged electron are produced by some radioactive elements. They are used in PET scanners – positron emission topography where the flash of gamma ray produced as the positron immediately bumps into an electron and annihilates is recorded to map out an image.
In the extreme temperatures at the centre of the sun where atoms are unstable, positrons emerge, annihilate into gamma rays and begin a hundred thousand year journey of transformation to the surface of the sun eventually emerging as daylight to nurture life on Earth.

1907 sunlight.jpg

Energy is stored in matter. Whatever antimatter touches it will destroy, releasing more energy more explosively than anything else we know.

The difference between bodily warmth and a chemical explosion is just a question of timescale. If time were compressed and the energy delivered to the body from a meal were given out in a millisecond the results would be explosive!

1907 Lee Krasner 1

Lee Krasner 

Lee Krasner (1908 -1984) led a commission for the War Service in 1933 to design public information window displays. She included photographs from classes she attended as part of her research – the class on explosives she described as ‘an alchemist’s dream’. Showing in Living Colour at the Barbican.

1907 Lee Krasner 2

Lee Krasner Imperative 1976 Future Indicative 1977

Exciting use of projectors and collaged film with much poignant material particularly a shocking ever increasing list of those who have died in search of a better life in Lis Rhodes Dissident Lines at Nottingham Contemporary.

Incredible night at The Royal Albert Hall with Public Service Broadcasting performing Race For Space Late Night Prom.

1907 race for space prom1907 race for space prom 2

It was a unique coming together of technological and geopolitical events that inspired an explosive burst of development for the human race. It also touches deeply on our spiritual side as a species, making us ask bigger questions about the universe and our role within it, as well as drawing attention to the bravery of so many of those involved on both sides.

J. Willgoose, Esq., of Public Service Broadcasting