Archives for posts with tag: Guest Projects

What information could be stored in dark matter?

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Before we could attempt an answer to this question we first had to decide what we meant by ‘information’.

The Dark Matter Day Discussion Group at UCL’s Institute of Education was a cross discipline event looking at three texts as catalysts to spark conversations about dark matter research, ideas of discovery, knowledge and materialisms.

Symmetry Magazine: The origins of dark matter.
From the primordial soup of the Big Bang to freeze-out and the WIMP miracle.

Chantal Faust: Dark Matters  – a specially commissioned essay for Laboratory of Dark Matters

Kader Attia: The Loop
Planetary Computing (Is the Universe Actually a Gigantic Computer?)

Creation, transition, destruction, decay. Matter is constantly regenerated. Our perception of broken is negative. Information is not ‘lost’ but released and absorbed.

Turning to Carlo Rovelli for an insight; The word ‘information’ is highly ambiguous being used in a variety of contexts from mental and semantic (“the information stored in your USB is comprehensible”) to mathematically quantifiable  (“the information stored in your USB is 32 Gigabytes”). There is physical information which is based on correlation that adheres to the laws of physics and meaningful information that leads to intentionality, agency, purpose and function. Physics is not a science about how the world is: it is a science of how the world can be.

We questioned if we have lost ancient knowledge and ways of understanding. Our senses are capped but it is possible to gain enhanced consciousness through forms of meditation and how is this experienced?

Further reading to explore perceptions of reality, self awareness and consciousness; David Bohm On Creativity and with Bryan Hiley The Undivided Universe: An Ontological Interpretation of Quantum Theory.

1710 The Publications

Two publications were also launched.

Laboratory of Dark Matters – a project overview publication with an introduction to Dark Matter and Boulby Underground Laboratory and contributions from participating artists. Daniel Clark, Luci Eldridge, Susan Eyre, Kate Fahey, Amy Gear, Sarah Gillett, Peter Glasgow, Robert Good, Melanie King and Elizabeth Murton.

Also an artist edition of the insightful poetic essay from Chantal Faust with layout designed by Daniel Clark to reflect the challenge of negotiating dark matter.

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Many events were scheduled to mark the newly established Dark Matter Day which the STFC decided should share the date with Halloween.

The Royal Astronomical Society hosted a symposium convened by chair of the Dark Matter UK (DMUK) Consortium, Dr Chamkaur Ghag (UCL). Understanding the nature of Dark Matter is one of the most important scientific missions of our time. UK researchers are at the forefront of Dark Matter research: modelling its impact on cosmology in N-body simulations; mapping its distribution with weak lensing studies; seeking direct detection in highly sensitive detectors buried deep underground; searching for signatures of Dark Matter annihilations in space; and even trying to produce some new Dark Matter at the LHC. The afternoon’s speakers were Dr Andrew Pontzen (UCL) on Dark Matter in the Cosmos, Prof. Henrique Araujo (Imperial College London) on Searching for Dark Matter, Prof. Jocelyn Monroe (Royal Holloway University of London) on Global Impact from Dark Matter Research and Prof. Malcolm Fairbairn (King’s College London) on Theories of Dark Matter.

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Following the inspiring project proposal judging dinner with Yinka Shonibare, when difficult decisions were made, the successful proposals for Guest Projects 2018 have been announced. Having been a part of the process I am excited for all the groups and anticipating some excellent projects.

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Ugly Duck “Ways of Sensing” talk during the “Making It Real” festival explored the intersection of analogue and digital technologies.

The speakers were Lewis Bush and Levin Haegele  who use spectrographic, infrared and satellite technologies to process alternative ways of capturing information.

Levin Haegele sounds like an a very useful person to know. His mission is to realise the impossible dreams of artists. He also converts cameras to shoot in infra red and ultra violet.

 

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Levin Haegele shot with converted IR camera

 

Lewis Bush spies on international spy networks listening in to their coded messages, plotting their signal origins and collaging together complex satellite maps of remote terrains.

 

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Lewis Bush from Shadows of the State

 

Night time visit to Vitrine showing THE ONLYES POWER IS NO POWER from Wil Murray.

1711 Wil Murray

Swirling and mutating, the image origins are echoes of locations where his family circus performed that were also the locations of “balloon bomb” strikes. The seasons marking time, summer and winter negatives overlaid and partially obscured with painted brush strokes. Painting out of history or the subconscious.

How information is lost or passed on is addressed in Blade Runner 2049 set in a dystopian future coping with a catastrophic digital data wipe leaving a gap in history.

1711 Blade Runner 2049

A short visit to Everything At Once at Store Studios, curated by Greg Hilty and Ossian Ward  for Lisson Gallery in collaboration with The Vinyl Factory.

Despite his rather selfish egotistical patenting of Vanta Black I have to admit Anish Kapoor makes visually intriguing works.

 

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Anish Kapoor At The Edge of the World II

 

 

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Ai Weiwei Iron Tree Trunk

 

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Dan Graham Two V’s Entrance-Way

 

1711 Rodney Graham Vexation Island

Rodney Graham Vexation Island (still)

 

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Allora and Calzadilla Solar Catastrophe

Alma Thomas showing in Soul of a Nation at Tate Modern. (At 80 was the first African American woman to have a solo show at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1972.)Fascinated by the space age she followed daily reports of NASA’s Mariner 9 mission to photograph Mars. Huge dust storms on the planet prevented images from being relayed back to earth but inspired her to make this work.

2011 Alma Thomas

Alma Thomas Mars Dust (detail)

Ilya and Emilia Kabakov Not Everyone Will Be Taken Into The Future

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Great title – Not Everyone Will Be Taken Into The Future, for me conjures an image of the time when we have to leave this planet for some new home and there are only a few spaces available on the spaceship, though really it is talking about being remembered, having a legacy that lives on.

1711 Ilya and Emilia Kabakov

Human engagement for the storage of information in opposition to death cannot be measured with the same scales used by the natural scientist. Carbon-dating tests measure the natural time according to the information loss of specific radioactive atoms. However, the artificial time of human freedom (“historical time”) cannot be measured by simply turning carbon-dating formulas around, so that they now measure the accumulation of information.” Vilém Flusser

Sam Hodge created an atmospheric immersive experience at The Crypt Gallery, Kings Cross for White Noise, a collective that presents works investigating a world filled with omnipresent background noise, explorations of ‘seeing the unseen’, ‘zones of indiscernibility’ and the ‘indeterminate’, and the freedom of the imagination to fill the void.

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Sam Hodge Vibrant Matter

“The Sun, the Moon, the Earth and its contents are material to form greater things, that is, ethereal things – greater things than the Creator himself has made” John Keats, 1817

The Live Creature and Ethereal Things  excellent discussion event at Arts Catalyst initiated by  Fiona Crisp as part of her ongoing research project Material Sight of non-documentary photography and video to interrogate extremes of visual and imaginative representation in fundamental science and technology. She has also visited Boulby Mine.

 

1711 Fiona CRISP Pump Lodge

Fiona Crisp Pump Lodge (from Boulby Series, Subterrania)

 

Participants included Tara Shears, Suchitra Sebastian talking about emergent particles and new states of matter that require new language to describe, Nahum Mantra demonstrating the Theremin and talking about mesmerism and invisible forces and arts Catalyst director Nicola Triscott. How to make big science more intimate.

Tara Shears clarity on the structure of the universe containing just 12 ingredients (quarks and leptons) held by 4 fundamental forces brought home a happy analogy for me with the 12 sided dodecahedron Plato’s representative shape of the universe.

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This has prompted me to look closer at Dante’s cosmology as a description of a finite universe, now known as the 3-sphere universe.

I am enjoying making intuitive connections to link the attributes of each heavenly sphere with those of the quarks and leptons. inspired by mythology going back to my reaction when I first came across the seemingly autological names of the quarks and leptons. Up Quark would be the Empyrean and Down Quark earthly paradise and the plucky Muon who appears in my cloud chamber takes Mars for Virtues and courage.

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Fiona Crisp warned against the dangers of art and science collaborations instrumentalising each other. Her work attempts to present an image to be viewed without trying to extract knowledge as in documentation. To evoke time, distance and scale yet create an intimacy of looking and embracing productive doubt.

“Both those taking snaps and documentary photographers, however, have not understood ‘information.’ What they produce are camera memories, not information, and the better they do it, the more they prove the victory of the camera over the human being.” Vilém Flusser

Following Fiona Crisp’s research into sharing knowledge combined with the act of making. ‘Origami-Folding the Local Universe’.   I learnt of the Council of Giants, a ring of 12 large galaxies surrounding the Local Group of which our milky way is a member, in the Local Sheet (where nearby galaxies share a similar velocity). Another key 12 to consider.

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Two everydaymatters circles showing at Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair with Thames-side Studios.

1711 Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair

everydaymatters (Paradise Passage #1 N7) sold

1710 everydaymatters (paradise passage #1 N7)

Back in the studio I pulled out some work I started a long while ago but never finished. Avondale Rialto is from when I was looking at the exotic names given to the prosaic caravan, when escape is an ideal never realised. It ties in with the idea of a paradise to be found. I may do some more work with this.

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Below the pavements and around the foundations of the City’s offices lies a layer of Dark Earth: the debris from the collapse and decay of lost centuries including that of Roman London. Powered by wiretapper, Dark Earth audio experience led us from a secret rendezvous to the underground ruins of a Roman house via a rambling narrative attempting to create a steamy atmosphere appropriate to a bath house and pill (tic tac) popping time travel back to a civilisation teetering on the edge of its downfall.

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“Human engagement for the storage of information in opposition to death cannot be measured with the same scales used by the natural scientist. Carbon-dating tests measure the natural time according to the information loss of specific radioactive atoms. However, the artificial time of human freedom (“historical time”) cannot be measured by simply turning carbon-dating formulas around, so that they now measure the accumulation of information.” Vilém Flusser

The duly received wordpress pre posting sharing alert –  ‘a broken connection requires repair’ takes on new significance after our dark matter day discussions.

‘The omnipresence of repair in the universe is without a doubt the sole reason it is shared by both mathematics and art. It is a primary characteristic of human biological and cultural evolution. Without the process of repair, there would be nothing — neither chaos nor stability. Everything is guided by the determinist agency of repair.’ Kader Attia

 

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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.

1709 Elizabeth Murton

Elizabeth Murton Connective Matter #3 – (Porcelain paper clay, LED lights, wire, yarn), a new site specific iteration in a series creating a connective web of black yarn and illuminated ceramic objects made by spinning clay, like the spinning which forms planets, stars and galaxies from the matter of the universe. We cannot see dark matter directly, only infer it indirectly from observations such as the spin of the galaxies and gravitational lensing and so must speculate its structure and role in the universe.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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……

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…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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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I decide to use softground on aluminium – an unpredictable process

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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

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it already feels cosmic

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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.

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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.

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1708 Boulby Mine

Time to return to the North East.

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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

 

 

During the hiatus between the Laboratory of Dark Matters Guest Projects residency and installing at Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum was a chance to test out installation options and visit a few events.

1707 cloud chamber

Euan James-Richards created a great video for our residency at Guest Projects- view Laboratory Of Dark Matters video here.

There are a few alternative options for a dodecahedron net – this was my favourite.

1707 dodecahedron net

Connecting dark matter

1707 test The Forms

Testing in my studio which had turned into an unventilated sauna that day

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Heat is what makes it impossible to time travel backwards. I think. Though applying heat (200°C) to the plates again made the disperse colours that had vanished reappear………………temporarily

1707 heatpress colours reappear

Always the unexpected outcome.

1707 Minute Bodies

A real treat at the Barbican was a live accompaniment by Tindersticks to the exploratory science films made in the early 1900’s by F. Percy Smith, naturalist, inventor and documentarist. Link here- Soundtrack from documentary “Minute Bodies: The Intimate World of F. Percy Smith” (2016) by Stuart A. Staples.

In his house in Southgate, the ex-goverment clerk Percy Smith films the life stories of hundreds of rare plants

As soon as I saw this documentation I knew I would like Oliver Beer.

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Is it bad to always think – oh this reminds me of… well this reminded me of Mark Leckey – The Universal Addressability of Dumb Things

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except these artefacts sang out, resonating with the air vibrating through their hollow forms

but it was still an interrogation of a collection of objects, squeezing out an essence/aura.

Then there was the building itself – Galerie Thaddeus Ropac – it’s space mapped through sound – the singers slamming their voices into the corners which threw them back, rising and echoing off the walls, harmonising to a crescendo until every inch of space vibrated

and there was no air left to breathe that wasn’t full of sound,  it was incredibly beautiful and absorbing. Also from the inside  out – an ear trumpet to the world beyond1707 Oliver Beer 5

street noises magnified

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Another sound experience was KlangHaus 800 Breaths at the South Bank Centre. More in earnest. More theatre.

1707 Klanghaus

Great to be escorted through the otherwise out of bounds roof spaces and enjoy the mash up of film projections and live music played LOUD amid the galvanised steel ducting and ventilation systems.

1707 breath box

Time for the Royal Society Summer Exhibition late night adults only serving poison cocktails.

1707 Royal Society Poison cocktail

Dr Kathryn Harkup gave us the low down on the most efficient murder tools.  Learnt that hemlock looks very like parsley; just 1 gram of nicotine (eaten) would kill you in 4 minutes – very quick for a poisoning; 100 cups of coffee in one day would kill you with caffeine  – but the water would get you first.

First stop –  Modelling the Invisible – Durham University – where I met David Cerdeno, a colleague of Cham Ghag who I had only emailed the week before about the LODM project- they had a device where you could set your dark matter detection experiment parameters, run the experiment  and warp forward in time to get your results – lots of lucky people were finding dark matter – shows optimism for their project which is going to be installed at Snowlab in Canada.

1707 Royal Society Summer Science DM

I was encouraged to track down and read a series of books by the physicist George Gamow explaining scientific theories through the character of Mr Tompkins who experiences dreams in which he enters alternative worlds where the physical constants have radically different values from those they have in the real world.

1707 Mr Tompkins

Had a chat about Large Hadron Collider computations that come from smashing particles together – 600 million collisions every second and the incredible number of particles that get produced and just how many types of particle there are  –  I was pointed in the direction of the particle physics bible. 

1707 Royal Society Summer Science Exh

Tried to ascertain what Gravitational Waves are made of but ended up no clearer,  they are bound up in spacetime and measuring them involves incredible accuracy but I couldn’t get to grips with what medium they use to travel across space – is it the as yet unobserved gravitons? Was informed that if I had a metre ruler and took it to Mars it would be shorter but so would I be, therefore I wouldn’t notice.

1707 gravitational waves

Quantum gravity is the sought after theory. It may turn out that the distinction between spacetime and matter is invalid at the Planck scale.
Every body gravitates because it bends the space surrounding it, changing the flow of time in the process – at the same time how a body moves in a gravitational field is determined by how it fits into warped spacetime.

I think these are phenomena I am too big or too small to notice.

Bit of a public engagement thing and free apps going on at www.laserlabs.org

Should I want to make a mini supernova I need a hydrogen based product about a mm across – hit it with a very powerful laser (the Orion Laser would do) until it reaches impossible temperatures – it will explode into a supernova that would fit in the palm of my hand. Ouch.

1507 Sun Factor

Susan Eyre Sun Factor

Apparently around 10 supernovas happen every second, bringing home the vastness of the universe. Some comfort is that our sun is too small to explode in this way. Plasma makes up a lot of the universe but on earth the temperature is too cool – plasma occurs when something gets so hot the constituent parts of the atom separate. Plasma is considered the fourth state of matter. The three other states are solid, liquid, and gas.

1707 plasma 1.jpg

There is a new type of laser called maser – masers amplify microwave signals from space, it doesn’t add any noise as the photons are fired into a crystal which absorbs them, then releases them all at the same time in coherence so they have less interference – all nicely lined up and much more intense – they used to need to be cryogenically cooled to work but now they have made it possible using a crystal to make all electrons move in the same way. This is good for receiving weak signals from space like communications from the Mars Rover.

1707 Luci Eldrige Mars reconstructed

Luci Eldridge Mars reconstructed

Having been on the peripheries of Melanie King’s Phosphorescence workshops as part of Dark Matters Lab. it was interesting to try to understand how fluorescence works.

1707 Phoshorescence workshop

Southampton University were on hand explaining how fluorescence works in coral but I think the principle is always the same –  the fluorescent substance takes in blue light and emits light in a different colour at a lower energy, the electrons drop down in their orbits of the nucleus to base level and then move back up. The substance atom would usually have a coiled shape and the electrons get lost in the coils. Coral is a shell structure containing symbiotic algae and the fluorescence helps protect the algae from too much sunlight in shallow waters.

I enjoyed the ritual based symmetry of Benedict Drew’s The Trickle Down Syndrome installation at Whitechapel gallery. Ready to worship. Fearful of outcomes.

1707 Benedict Drew

A full day at the Science Museum assessing Robot Futures: Vision and Touch in Robotics a symposium hosted by Luci Eldridge and Nina Trivedi bringing together engineers, scientists, cultural theorists and artists to explore notions of embodiment and telepresence in the field of robotics and in virtual and augmented realities. It began with a tour of the current Robots exhibition followed by a demonstration of ROBOT DE NIRO by Dr Petar Kormushev of Imperial College Robotics Lab.

1707 Robot De Niro

This is when we learnt that although huge progress has been made robots are still pretty limited in what they can do physically. Great programme of speakers including  Gregory Minnissale: Nonlinear Vision and Touch in Art, Science and Technology; Joey Holder: Ophiux; Nea Ehrlich: Envisioning 21st Century Techno-Vision: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Machine Witnessing in Non-Fiction; Bianca Westermann: Robotic Presences: Encounters with the Artificial between Social Companionship and Embodied Representation; Ruairi Glynn: Animacy Aesthetics; Maya Oppenheimer: The Robotics Division of the Dramaco Instrument Company Introduces the Ensocellorator Reliance Pro II; Stephen Ellis (via Skype): On the character, scope, and meaning of the spatial user interface to Virtual Environments: its recent and deep history; Simon Julier; Nicola Plant and Jeremiah Ambrose: Systems of Seeing: Virtual Gaze Interaction.

Next stop the North East.

1707 CIMM install.jpg

 

 

 

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.

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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?

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

1703 Boulby boiler suit.jpg

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

1703 screen

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

1703 screen detail

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

1703 sugar lift drying

The plates are then immersed in a bitumen bath

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the pooling of dark matter

1703 bitumen bath 2

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

1703 sugarlift

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

1703 clean up

galaxies appear as light breaks through

1703 clean up 2

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

1703 cloud chamber test

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

cosmic trail 1 e

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

cosmic trail 3 e

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.

1703 hyperdodecahedron

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

1703 tree of codes 3

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,

1703 tree of codes

Wayne McGregor,  Jamie xx and Olafur Eliasson collaborate seamlessly

Tree of Codes

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.

1605 dm boulby tunnel

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 

 

 

 

Amazing News Update – Laboratory of Dark Matters has been awarded a month long residency at Guest Projects for April 2017. Exciting times ahead.

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Laboratory of Dark Matters is a response by artists to scientific investigations into the unknown nature of the Universe; opening a dialogue between scientists and artists who are each driven by curiosity and seek answers to fundamental questions about matter and consciousness.

“All visible matter in the entire Universe, including all the stars, cosmic objects, black holes and intergalactic gases, amounts to less than 5% of the mass we know to be present.”  

The search for dark matter is a scientific endeavour but also requires a large degree of faith in both the existence of these elusive particles and in the scientists’ ability to eventually detect and identify them. For artists, creating work is often about searching for some unknown and embracing an unexpected outcome.

The participating artists will be Amy Gear, Daniel Clark, Elizabeth Murton, Kate Fahey, Luci Eldridge, Melanie King, Peter Glasgow, Sarah Gillett, Susan Eyre.

Unexpectedly found myself trailing Game of Thrones fans location hunting.

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Visiting Northern Ireland’s dramatic coast and spiritual heartlands. Brooding ruins and primeval earthworks, geological anomalies and wide windswept bays. I was on the lookout for saints and sacred wells.

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breathing it in

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The walls of Dunluce Castle – struck through with the local geometric formations

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mossy glade – moss prohibition

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‘The Armagh Astropark – where Heaven comes down to Earth…’

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faith and ritual

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At Cranfield Holy Well there was no evidence of fine spring water and amber coloured crystals, it looked dank and more pestilent than healing. Still it is festooned with personal items tied to the overhanging branches, each one a little prayer. According to  custom, one must bathe the infected part of the body with a rag dipped in the well, pray and then tie the rag to a large overhanging tree, as the rag decays the affliction is supposed to disappear. Judging from the preservation of these items, for some, the cure is a long way off.

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County Antrim wears its heart on its sleeve.

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Settlements past and present – Downhill House a recent ruin and the grassy banks of Lissenden Earthworks

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The enigmatic nun, dark Julia’s grave stone at the ancient Bonamargy Friary

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The bronze age Tandragee Man brandishing  his legendary silver prosthetic limb

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The even more ancient belly of the earth at Marble Arch caves

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Containment slotted nicely into the Plastic Propaganda curated exhibition Sugar and Spice at St. Katherine’s Dock.

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Made in response to the trade of exotic objects by merchants who journeyed across the globe five hundred years ago when navigation was reliant on the stars.

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Shaped plates, etched using a sugar lift technique, are filled with inks made from ground spices and copperplate oils wafting traces of their origins in to the gallery space –  turmeric, coriander, cumin, paprika…

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These operate as markers plotting the spice route from India around Africa to Europe according to the latitude and longitude lines taken from C16th maps of Mercator and Ortelius. The patterns combine ideologies of origins with destinations reflecting the breadth and mix of cultures that came together. I like how viewing becomes a ritual.

Sugar and Spice explored ideas of trade, hybridization and inter-cultural exchange and the legacy of the rich mercantile history of the docks. Looking back informs, educates and gives us the platform for continuous debate…

 …all more poignant post referendum.

Sarah Gillet’s magical show Quarry at Brocket Gallery was in itself a process of quarrying – exhuming material from a forensic analysis of Paolo Uccello’s painting   ‘The Hunt in the Forest (1470). The pursuit of quarry. This inversion of meanings repeats itself in the work as do the shapes and shadows of a forest that extends beyond the boundaries of any canvas into the dark depths of dream spaces where strange creatures abound.

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In such a space where would you turn to escape.

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It’s how I imagine the labyrinths of Venice should be during the carnival. Full of intriguing theatrical creatures appearing out of the void; playful menace.

I have long enjoyed the work of Raqib Shaw and the dazzling paintings he creates with intricate enamelled surfaces glistening with gemstones and gold; the chaos of  battle played out to the personal beat of shamanic drums; the quest for unattainable perfection.  His obsession with self, pitted against the world, seems to have reached a melancholic peak with Self-Portraits at White Cube. This reimagining of old masters heavily laden with references to his own worlds of Peckham and Kashmir appear as premature reliquaries to a life saturated in self immolation.

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Hidden undercurrents of surface beauty are exposed in Victoria Ahrens thoughtful presentation of her PhD research ABSORB. A meditation on the history of the Paranà River in Argentina. From a mystical place of leisure for her Grandfather to the brutal grave of those who ‘disappeared’ during the military junta, thrown to their deaths to be slowly and anonymously absorbed into the landscape.

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By allowing the waters of the river to wash over the plates and images that she creates the alchemical processes continue and those lost into the waters imbue the work with a gentle pathos.

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From shards of shattered time an image is built that hovers between past and present.

Alex Simpson’s exploration of material in Through Viscera at Barbican Arts Group Trust was fresh and almost vibrating with energy.

Like a virus spreading across all surfaces, into the core of matter that lay extruded across the floor, eaten into and vein like, globular and thick with fungal felt, drying and dropping, leaving prints as scars.

 

In Lichtlose Luft, at PARCspace the LCC’s photographic archive resource centre,  Johanna Love’s lithographic prints and drawings on digital prints of tiny specks of matter magnified to reveal the sublime contours reminiscent of a mountain landscape were a very successful exploration of finding the human relationship in a scientifically generated image.

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The technical image is a starting point for the work, either obtained through the electron microscope or the digital scanner. Through the process of drawing and digital manipulation, there is an attempt to bring the image back into the physical, material world of the living and imagination, for as Merleau Ponty (1964) states, ‘science manipulates things and gives up living in them.’

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Isolated like meteorites falling through a grey space that vibrates with the blurred colours we see on the back surface of the eyelid; these drawings capture the imagination.

Super/collider once again brought us a mind blowing yet entertaining talk at Second Home.  Dr. Andrew O’Bannon has been studying Holography for 15 years. He proposes a bold idea that all the information in our 3D universe may be contained in a mysterious 2D image, like a hologram. Promising not only to unite Einstein’s relativity with quantum physics, holography also has the potential to provide us with cleaner energy, faster computers, and novel electronics. Using ideas from string theory he studies holography and strongly interacting systems.

In everyday life, a hologram is a two-dimensional image containing enough information to reconstruct a three-dimensional object. In theoretical physics, holography proposes that some strongly-interacting systems are equivalent to Einstein’s theory of gravity in one higher dimension.

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“Many experiments to detect proposed dark matter particles through non-gravitational means are under way. On 25 August 2016, astronomers reported that Dragonfly 44, an ultra diffuse galaxy (UDG) with the mass of the Milky Way galaxy, but with nearly no discernible stars or galactic structure, may be made almost entirely of dark matter.” From BBC science

There were two talks at New Scientist Live that I found particularly interesting. The first was from Dr Andrew Pontzen a theoretical cosmologist explaining the evidence that dark matter exists and why it is proving so hard to detect. He spends his time working through theories that are then passed on to someone like Cham Ghag, an astrophysicist who will devise strategies to test theories in direct detection projects such as ZEPLIN and LUX.

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It’s not only the calculations from gravitational lensing that suggests way more mass is present than can be seen but also large computer modelling samples of how galaxies form and rotate. Removing a few stars from the model galaxy ends in a chaotic breakdown, but making a few stars ‘dark’ so that the mass remains but we cannot see them does not change the rotation of the remaining stars we can still see. The distribution of dark matter across the universe appears like a fibrous net, imaged from the cosmic microwave background, an echo still reverberating from the first few seconds at the birth of the universe. The second talk ‘Beyond the Higgs’ was from particle physicist Professor Tara Shears who inspects the data produced from the experiments colliding proton beams to create fundamental particles at CERN, for anomalies that might turn out to be evidence of an interaction with a new particle. The search goes on.

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