Archives for posts with tag: Institute of Physics

Back in beautiful Northumberland for a Beyond gathering of artists at ACA who will be continuing in the open door residency as the project evolves into Continuum.

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Lots of particle trails were spotted during The Cloud Chamber Workshop. Thanks to the Institute of Physics for sponsoring this, Allenheads Contemporary Arts for hosting and the North Pennines Stargazing Festival for including it in their programme.

1810 cloud chamber workshop 1

A cloud chamber gives us a glimpse into the invisible world of particles produced in the radioactive decay of naturally occurring elements and those generated when cosmic rays strike the top of the Earth’s atmosphere.

1810 cloud chamber workshop 2

These particles pass though us continuously without our awareness. Witnessing this usually unseen activity can lead us to look beyond what our immediate senses tell us is there and consider the possibility of other intangible phenomena.

1810 Wilson's cloud chamber

The rather gorgeous original Cloud Chamber was invented by Scottish physicist Charles Wilson and he won the noble prize for it in 1927. It has been said that the cloud chamber might be the most important piece of experimental equipment in the history of particle physics. It was a chance discovery that made the study of particles possible.
Wilson was fascinated by clouds and was actually studying meteorology spending his time observing clouds at the top of Ben Nevis. He thought it might be easier to study them if he could build a device to create clouds in his laboratory. He also hoped to recreate the strange optical phenomena known as a Glory caused by light hitting clouds below the observer which he had experienced from his high vantage point on the mountain.

1810 A glory

It was Victor Hess who discovered cosmic rays and earnt the Nobel Prize for this in 1936. Scientists had been puzzled by the levels of ionizing radiation measured in the atmosphere using electroscopes. It was expected that radiation would decrease with distance from the earth but to test this Hess risked his life taking measurements at high altitudes in a balloon without oxygen tanks. He found that the radiation levels increased with altitude and concluded that there was radiation penetrating the atmosphere from outer space.

1810 Victor Hess balloon

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

1810 freezing bubble

The workshop was followed by The Dark Side of the Universe talk from Dr. Pete Edwards. Our universe is filled with mysterious dark matter, whose gravity provides the cosmic glue that holds it all together, and dark energy, which is slowly tearing the universe apart.

1810 Pete Edwards Talk ACA

The finale of the Stargazing Festival was the screening of Steven Spielberg’s 1977 sci-fi icon Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Good to revisit and think about how much more we know about the universe 41 years on.

1810 Close Encounters

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

1810 Close Encounters dinner

I was invited as a guest speaker at London LASER Labs Re- Thinking Space at Central Saint Martins.

The session remit was

We are in the midst of both an incredible and challenging space age. How can we harness the information, collected in silo, from the fields of cosmology and quantum physics to conceive of a more unified vision of how the universe (and us) are put together? Within science and culture – what new models of thought could we foster? How do creativity and consciousness fit into this emerging paradigm? How can we rethink our practices to swerve the impasse some are labelling a new ‘Dark Age’?…

I was glad to arrive early to see the collection of meteorites Dr Natasha Almeida, Curator of Meteorites at the Natural History Museum had brought along for the Playlab hands on session. This included a spectacular slice of iron meteorite. Due to a long cooling period inside the parent asteroids the nickel and iron alloys crystallise then when polished and acid etched the classic Widmanstätten patterns of intersecting lines of lamellar kamacite, are visible. Also a tear drop of earth rock created when a meteorite struck the earth and the heat melted the rock which flew into the air and cooled into tear drops as it fell.

1810 meteorite collection.jpg

Other speakers at the event were Dr. Thomas Kitching a Cosmologist from Mullard Space Science Laboratory who is Science Co-Lead for the ESA’s Euclid Mission launching in 2021 to map the geometry of the Dark Universe by observing thousands of millions of galaxies.

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He told us how confidence in what the universe is made of has eroded over the centuries and perhaps dark matter and dark energy which make up what we call the dark universe should be renamed Materia Incognita.

Dr Ceri Brenner is a plasma physicist and innovator at STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory’s Central Laser Facility. She uses the most powerful lasers in the world to study what happens when extreme bursts of light come into contact with matter. She told us how firing these high energy lasers  through Tantalum a rare, blue-gray lustrous metal can produce high energy x-rays which can be used for imaging the container walls of  radioactive storage facilities to look for damage. The extreme physics she studies can also be applied to understanding supernova explosions in space or how we can ignite a star on earth for clean electricity generation.

1810 STFC laser lab

Apparently plasma accounts for 99% of the known matter in the Universe, it’s a soup of sub-atomic particles at temperatures way beyond what we usually experience on earth. This makes the stuff we interact with on a daily basis seem a really tiny portion if 99% of the 5% we know is also stuff beyond our realm of experience.

1810 plasma.jpg

Astrophysicist Dr Chamkaur Ghag was also there to talk about direct dark matter research and how extremely sensitive the detectors need to be. It was interesting to look at the progression of the different detectors from DRIFT to LUX increasing target capacity and homing in on areas of possibility where the illusive particles might be found.

Cham always gives insight into the importance of not just interrogating matter but putting scientific research into context. Asking why we are doing something, not just how. This fires his passion to address climate change and his involvement in the grassroots initiative from Particle Physicists European Strategy Update on Climate Change

1810 Paradise burning

PARADISE burning — More than 30,000 people fled for their lives as a late-season wildfire swept across this town in the Sierra foothills

Laser Lab Talks Re-Thinking Space was compered by Nicola Triscott, founding Artistic Director/CEO of Arts Catalyst who asked the panel some reaching questions about the future of physics and how we make a difference to the debate placing ourselves in control of our destiny. Questions from the floor addressed the public interface of science. Speaking in front of an audience is not something I find comfortable so my input to the panel was slim but hopefully I had aired some relevant points during my talk looking at the opposing scales of cosmology and quantum physics and how we might relate to these two spheres of knowledge, both beyond human scale and comprehension.

1802 frozen galaxy
The idea of a new dark age approaching addresses a fear that we no longer understand the world around us. We are subjected to too much information that we can no longer process. There is too much complexity, we don’t know where to turn for verification.
The knowledge of the way the world behaves built up over generations may no longer apply. The fear that we are losing connection to the world around us is in many ways a long standing one – we have always looked back to a time when we believed we lived in harmony with the natural world.  That something central to our lives has been lost.

 

1810 Bruegel Two Monkeys

Pieter Bruegel The Elder Two Monkeys 1592

I have seen some interesting exhibitions tracing the human experience through alienation, projection and what happens when different worlds collide.

Nicky Coutts excellent examination of interspecies dissonance Man Stupid at Danielle Arnaud. Koko the gorilla was born and raised in captivity. She was taught to sign and ultimately deliver a message in the role of ambassador on behalf of nature to the 2015 Paris Climate Conference.

In Nicky’s drawings Koko has slipped away leaving just her skin as shadow.

1810 Nicky Coutts

The images read as an indecipherable code. The frustration at the divide between human and non human communication is held in these traces of gesture. We can look hard, make suggestions but will never know what is in the great ape’s mind. Drawn in blackest charcoal, rich and intense with a primeval, totemic aura they could be the props of the shaman hinting at another world that requires some rite of passage involving the returning to a world of raw visceral nature.

Oceania at The Royal Academy.

In 1768 James Cook set sail from Plymouth in the HMS Endeavour funded by the Royal Society to track the transit of Venus in Tahiti and explore the islands of the Pacific Ocean.

1810 Oceania RA Lisa Reihana 3.jpg

Lisa Reihana has created a large scale panaoramic video installation in Pursuit of Venus [infected] using the French scenic wallpaper Les Sauvages De La Mer Pacifique as a backdrop to the complexities of cultural identity and colonisation depicting scenes of encounter between Europeans and Polynesians.

1810 Oceania RA 3

Much of the exhibition was uncomfortable viewing for although the catalogue emphasises that objects collected by Europeans were frequently given willingly I don’t feel confident there was equality in these ‘exchanges’.

1810 Oceania RA 5

1810 Oceania RA 7

1810 Oceania RA 1

That the objects still resonate with spiritual significance for some is evident by fresh offerings left around the galleries.

I had just finished reading the riveting Modern Gods by Nick Laird before visiting which raises the subject of proselytism and relevant contemporary issues on religious belief and cultural contamination drawing on events in Ulster and Papua New Guinea to highlight the fragility of social cohesion when faith and tribe are on the line.

 

Sarah Christie’s Library shown at Southwark Cathedral is an ongoing attempt to give voice to the individuals that make up the 48% and the opposing 52% trying to make sense of the divided society they find themselves a part of in post Brexit referendum Britain.

1810 Sarah Christie

In Ancient Greece, people voted by writing on ‘ostraca’ a broken piece of pottery. The public have been invited to select an ostracon – sherds made by hand from a hundred and fifty cast bowls – and offer their own words that break boundaries.

I enjoyed Alex Prager’s Face in the Crowd series at The Photographers Gallery.

1810 Alex Prager Face in the Crowd

The individual is picked out in the crowd and elevated from anonymity, but look at the crowd – these are not the grey masses we blend in with on the streets, at airport lounges and theatres. Each of these characters is chosen, placed and choreographed. The unnatural vibrancy and controlled demeanours give the scene an unsettling automaton quality.

1810 Alex Prager

Entertained by an evening exploring the darker past of the gothic extravaganza Strawberry Hill House.

Spirits invoked for Ghost Tide exhibition at Thames-side Gallery curated by Sarah Sparkes and Monica Bobinska.

1810 Laura Marker Ghost Tide

Laura Marker

1810 Mary Yacoob Ghost Tide

Mary Yacoob

I took part in the Hollow Bone Ceremony led by shaman Kate Walters who uses repetitive drumming to alter the brain waves to ‘theta’ waves to allow travel to either the Upper world or the Lower world to convene with the cosmos, nature and animal spirits and ask for guidance on behalf of the participant.

1810 hollow bone ceremony

Was it coincidence that my mind focused on an unexpected encounter with a deer in Grizedale Forest the previous week that after the 10 minutes of rhythmic trance Kate came back with a strong image of a large Moose or Stag whose energy and ferocity I needed to tap into.

1815 Grizedale Deer.jpg

Thanks to Jim Lloyd for highlighting this quote from Werner Heisenberg

“What we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning. “

 

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1709 CIMM exhibition 1Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum exhibition brought work created for Guest Projects residency into a very different space, reinventing and presenting it in new ways.

1709 diazographoDiazôgraphô – (Wood, acrylic, digital print) has been reworked since Guest Projects. You can still see through it, but it is more reflecting; you and your surroundings are echoed in it and so it appears you are both surrounded by and surrounding the same space.

 

1709 diazographo 1

Using the dodecahedron as a motif for the universe I like this quality that draws on Dante’s description of the universe as concentric circles; that the very outer circles also appear to be enclosed by the inner circles and the relationship that this enfolding space has to a 3-sphere and Poincaré dodecahedral space. Plato described the dodecahedron as ‘a fifth construction, which the god used for embroidering the constellations on the whole heaven ’  so it works as a metaphor for dark matter too – a phenomena that binds the galaxies together.

1709 The Forms
The Forms – (Etched aluminium) Installed in a new configuration here as a net that together would build a dodecahedron. In scientific visualisations of dark matter we see familiar organic patterns emerge; the fronds of dark matter spanning galaxies could be the spreading branches of trees or the veins under our skin. The realm of abstract thought Plato called The Forms is where ideals reside, outside the limitations of the physical world and where, if anywhere, paradise might be found.

Some work by the other Laboratory of Dark Matter artists was new, some reworked or given new context

1709 CIMM exhibition 2

Amy Gear Nudge – (Painting on unstretched canvas)  Reflecting on video footage from a Women’s Self Defence and Green Screen Workshop run in collaboration with martial arts expert Jiff Higman, the work employs the body as a tool to help describe the incomprehensible notion that only 5% of the universe is visible to us; the bodily contact through self-defence actions related to the contact scientists are hoping for when a dark matter particle ‘nudges’ the nucleus of the target element (Xenon) and causes a recoil that can be recorded.

1709 Elizabeth Murton

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

1709 CIMM exhibition 3

KATE FAHEY Optimistic – (Copper and resin); Dark Adaptation – (Digital video with two channel audio) calling on lost lore and old forms of knowledge to negotiate technology and scientific advancement, the work seeks to establish a speculative relationship between dark matter, dark adaptation, the lectures of Rudolf Steiner on the practice of divining and John Carpenter’s film They Live, where the main character discovers sunglasses that reveal an alternative reality.  Dark adaptation refers to the ability of the eye to adjust to various levels of darkness and light.

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

1709 CIMM EXH.

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

1709 Luci Eldridge

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

1709 Melanie King

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

1709 Sarah Gillett

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

1709 Peter Glasgow

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

1709 Robert Good

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

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

1709 talks promo

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

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

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

1709 dark matters video

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

1709 Sarah Casey 1

Sarah Casey

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

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

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

1709 plus minus human

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

1709 CIMM Open Day dark matter life drawing

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

1709 xenon nucleus target

…tours of the exhibition…..

1709 CIMM Open Day gallery tour (2)

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

1709 Robert Good 2

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

1709 CIMM Open Day Activitiy tent

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

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

1709 cloud chamber1709 cosmic trail

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

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

1708 studio test

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

1709 random start points

I decide to use softground on aluminium – an unpredictable process

1709 applying softground

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

A satisfying peel

Nature echoing art again.

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

1709 etch process

it already feels cosmic

1709 removing stopout

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

1709 peel and etch (1)

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

1709 test light on etch.jpg

 

An occasion on which one is reminded of the state of things in the real world.

Carlo Rovelli was at Second Home discussing his book Reality Is Not What It Seems: The Journey To Quantum Gravity which presents the story of the human imagination and reveals how the atomic world view first proposed by Democritus nearly 2,500 years ago can be found interwoven through history into our cultural life. It tells the story of what we know about our universe and how we came to know it, from the early atomic intuitions of Greek and Roman thinkers who observed the world about them and came to the conclusion that objects could not be a continuous whole but must be made up of lots of tiny parts.

1706 Susan Eyre Diazographo photo Sara Lynd

Susan Eyre Diazôgraphô photo Sara Lynd

The book goes on to show evidence of the ancient ideas now emerging from the Planck satellite and CERN, to the genuinely new knowledge being offered by Loop Quantum Gravity, of which Rovelli is a founding theorist. He was a generous and thoughtful speaker. When I started his book  I was a little upset to find Plato to be considered obtuse and an obstacle to the progression of physics for ignoring the atomic theories of Democritus and questioning the benefits to itself of why an object should take a particular form, but then in chapter two Plato is absolved of criticism for his pioneering understanding that mathematics is at the root of all scientific truths that ‘Number governs forms and ideas’

1706 Susan Eyre Diazographo 2 photo Sara Lynd

Susan Eyre Diazôgraphô photo Sara Lynd

The talk moved on to discuss the nature of time and how we experience it. Someone quoted Nelson Goodman from 1951 in The Structure of Appearance. ‘A thing is a monotonous event; an event is an unstable thing’.

 

I found this clip of Brian Cox explaining time travel  sort of helpful in that I can follow his explanation but it still leaves me confounded.

1706 Brian Cox

In his book Rovelli equally values the thoughts of poets and physicists who contemplate the same questions about the structures of the universe.

1706 Baptistry Florence

Marvelling at correlations between Dante’s plan of paradise, possibly inspired by the cupola ceiling of the Baptistery in Florence, that speaks of a spherical universe made of ever increasing circles that reach a point where the outer circle appears to be enclosed by those that enclose it – a poetic description of a 3-sphere.

Rovelli believes the universe cannot be infinite – ‘that’s too big ‘ – and he seems aligned with the 3 sphere universe theory that the universe is not infinite but has no boundaries.  I found myself thinking – surely this must still sit within something? Still it was gratifying to find that this in line with Jean-Pierre Luminet and the Poincaré dodecahedral space  which I have been fascinated by –

A positively curved universe is described by elliptic geometry, and can be thought of as a three-dimensional hypersphere, or some other spherical 3-manifold (such as the Poincaré dodecahedral space), all of which are quotients of the 3-sphere.

Another name for the Poincaré dodecahedral space is the soccer ball universe…..

1705 Yinka Shonibare at York Museum

Yinka Shonibare’s work at York Art Gallery as part of Doug Fishbone’s Leisure Land Golf

We are still waiting for any definitive answers about the shape of the universe, whether it is infinite or finite, whether it is flat, positively curved or negatively curved, whether it is simply connected as in Euclidean geometry or like a torus which is flat, multiply connected, finite and compact among many other contributing possibilities. I have been doing some research on the Poincaré conjecture, mostly looking at the diagrams of the mathematical theories.

1706 Poincare's homology sphere

I came across the story of Russian mathematician Grigori Perelman whose theories ultimately  proved the Poincaré conjecture and he was awarded the Fields medal. He declined the award saying he wasn’t interested in fame. Other quotes have him saying if he can control the universe why would he want to claim a million dollars prize money. Perhaps some myths have been built around him, as seems to happen with a person who doesn’t conform to expectations.

1706 Grigori Perelman

An earlier visit to Second Home was for a talk on Super Massive Black Holes by Dr. Meghan Gray.

1705 Supermassive black holes

I found her description of what a black hole is really helpful to try and visualise what is happening. The idea that space curves around matter. That really dense and heavy matter condensed into a small object makes a deeper pocket in spacetime.

1705 black hole

The largest black holes are called “supermassive.” These black holes have masses greater than 1 million suns combined and would fit inside a ball with a diameter about the size of the solar system. Scientific evidence suggests that every large galaxy contains a supermassive black hole at its centre. The supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way is Sagittarius A*, it is 4 million times as massive as the sun and 27,000 light years from Earth. The smallest ones are known as primordial black holes. Scientists believe this type of black hole is as small as a single atom but with the mass of a large mountain.

The most common type of medium-sized black holes is called “stellar.” The mass of a stellar black hole can be up to 20 times greater than the mass of the sun and can fit inside a ball with a diameter of about 10 miles. Dozens of stellar mass black holes may exist within the Milky Way galaxy.

Information overload awaits you at sixtysymbols

1706 sixty symbols

Made a trip to Whitby for a site visit to Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum ahead of our Laboratory of Dark Matters exhibition opening this summer.

1705 CIMM tunnel

We were given a very warm welcome and are looking forward to bringing our work to the North East. We are delighted that along with Arts Council England funding we have now received the support of The Institute of Physics and The Science and Technology Facilities Council to take our project to the mining museum.

1706 LODM exhibition supporters

I will be running some more cloud chamber workshops.

1706 Cloud Chamber workshopMy second Open Studios and the first with the new management Thames-side studios who did an excellent job promoting the event, running activities and guiding visitors around what is quite a big site now.

1705 Open Studios Pairi Daeza

Susan Eyre Pairi Daêza

The word Paradise originates from ancient Iranian pairi daêza meaning around and wall.

The work everydaymatters is informed by the discovery that the matter we know, that which is visible to us and includes all the stars and galaxies is only about 5% of the content of the universe, dark matter making up about 25% and the remaining 70% being dark energy, it dissects landscapes to discover the hidden structures of the universe.

170519 Open Studios (2)

Spent an interesting evening at Treadwell’s listening to Lore and Belief in the Case of the Talking Mongoose, a lecture by Chris Josiffe.

1705 treadwells talking mongoose

In the early 1930s, an isolated Manx farm family became international celebrities after claiming their home was inhabited by a weasel-like animal. Gef the Talking Mongoose could speak coherently, shape-shift and perform telepathy. Investigators came in their multitudes, and improbable though it may sound, many were convinced. It was a time when spiritualism was strong, and psychic investigation popular.  Gef was purported to live between the walls of the house. This made me think of Gregor Schneider and his double walled rooms, lead lined, claustrophobic passages.

1706 Totes Haus u r Keller Venedig Gregor Schneider

I made a trip to Brockley to see In Conversation with (7): Beyond Controls; a drawing and print collaboration between Neil Ferguson & Carol Wyss.

From an initial line, each drawing was scanned, emailed and printed out to be developed further by hand. The repetitive nature of these procedures regularly exposed the limitations and idiosyncratic qualities of the scanners and printers. The structure of “Beyond Controls …” would always be infinite, sequences without final drawings, but rather statements held in digitalized time. Cycles of series that cannot be closed, circles that cannot be joined.

1706 InCon-BeyondControl-NeilFerguson-CarolWyss2

The result was 10 sets of 32 drawings, 10 inkjet monoprints and a captivating video of  each set of drawings digitally layered and edited with Photoshop making the decision on visibility of content through its own algorithms. Wonderful.

Another visit was to  a new project space HEWING WITTARE in Walthamstow to see Shapeshifting – tactics to combat drowning featuring works by Chudamani Clowes, Rebecca Glover and Anna Liber Lewis.

1706 Chud Clowes rescue blanket sea

The artists use the watery world as a metaphor for our current political climate in which the fight for survival, shelter and equality is growing tougher by the day….

Chud Clowes engaged in a perambulative performance dressed as an Urchin to highlight the journeys made across the globe by thousands of migrants often at the mercy of the oceans and elements as well as political currents that sweep them from place to place

1706 Chud Clowes Urchin performance

We were led to Lloyd Park, site of  the William Morris Gallery, for some squid and fish printing on one of the hottest days of the year.

Later the same day entering Edel Assanti gallery to see new work from Jodie Carey – Earthcasts the visual and the physical collided. In this white space 50 gnarled and towering sculptures created a landscape hinting at the cool depths of a silver birch tree glade or the snowy trunks of an alpine forest while the heat of the day still pulsated in my body and hung heavy in the atmosphere.

1706 Jodie Carey

It was a rich experience oscillating between ancient responses to the multiple upright monument, the rituals of the standing stone yet could also be the concrete posts from some deconstructed enclosure, the high wire fencing removed. Jodie Carey’s painstaking process of burying old timbers in the earth to create casts that are then filled with plaster and subsequently excavated echo the temporal and material nature of our lives lived on soil and imprinted with our own encounters.

Along to SHOW 2017 at the RCA to be swept even further away. The heat more in keeping with the surface of Mars images presented as part of the final research of Luci Eldridge’s PhD by thesis; Mars, Invisible Vision and the Virtual Landscape: Immersive Encounters with Contemporary Rover Images 2017

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Luci Eldridge ‘Stepping into the Image of Mars’

Images captured at the Mars Yard being used to test the European Space Agency’s ExoMars rover, due to launch in 2020. Courtesy of Airbus Defence and Space.

‘ The eyes of the Mars rovers provide viewpoints through which we regard an alien terrain: windows upon unknown worlds. Rover images bridge a gap between what is known and unknown, between what is visible and invisible. The rover is our surrogate, an extension of our vision that portrays an intuitively comprehensible landscape. Yet this landscape remains totally out of reach, millions of miles away. This distance is an impenetrable boundary – both physically and metaphorically – that new technologies are trying to break.’ Luci Eldridge

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I am reworking the dodecahedron frame for the mining museum. Sanding, then darkening with my favourite black Stabilo pencil.

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The images of cosmic trails now sit behind Perspex facets which has added another layer of reflection, the outer world, the universe surrounding and surrounded by itself

Diazôgraphô = Greek for to embroider. As to embroider the stars on the heavens…

 

Big news is that Laboratory of Dark Matters has been awarded Arts Council England funding. I am still struggling to believe. We are also getting some support from the Institute of Physics for when we take the exhibition to the North East. This news is such a boost for our project and has unleashed a rush of activity, but also a torrent of admin. I had been making some progress with the sculpture.1702 Dodecahedron.jpg

Results of a day at Woodhall Barn Workshop under the steady supervision of wood wizard Christopher Hall and I am very chuffed with my dodecahedron frame.  The angles have to be cut so very accurately using a table saw and digital level to achieve the precision needed for it to fit together. It’s basically 30 identical pieces ripped from 2 x 4 pine at 31.7° and mitred at 36° and glued together. We got these top tips ‘How to make a dodecahedron the easy way’ from YouTube. It was not easy.

Reading Plato’s Timaeus and Critias I was hoping to find some more information on the relationship drawn between the dodecahedron and the cosmos but have found no further explanations. Plato describes a primitive chaos where the four elements of fire, earth, water and air formed from a turbulent mix of ‘being’, ‘space’ and ‘becoming’ to be assigned by their solid or fluid characteristics to the tetrahedron, cube, icosahedron and octahedron respectively then adds .. ‘There still remained a fifth construction, which the god used for embroidering the constellations on the whole heaven’…it’s almost an afterthought or maybe just too illusive to elaborate on.

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I have started the experiment with sugar lift and etching aluminium to see if I can bite right through the plate and keep the structure of the image. I screenprinted a sugar lift mixture onto the plate on both sides. The image was adapted from data visualisation of dark matter kindly supplied by Ralf Kaehler of the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology.

I drenched the plate in stop-out and left it to dry before immersing in hot water which dissolves the sugar and reveals the image. It was surprising how much fine detail came through. Though one side of the plate was always better than the other – this could be due to lots of things that are hard to control accurately like concentration of sugar, thickness of stop-out, temperature of water. A primitive chaos.

1702-detail-stopoutI am etching in saline sulphate as it gives quite a deep etch into aluminium.

great colours and quite mesmerising to watch as thick red deposits appear

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Chemistry at work, lot of bubbles and heat. Several hours later after lots of dips, touch up of stop-out and fresh saline sulphate baths, light begins to appear through the plate

Cleaned up to see the results and decide where to go from here

The cloud chamber is also coming along. With the help of next door cutting my wood I have assembled the box. Even the insulation for the dry ice is cosmic.

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Had an interesting day listening to panel discussions and talks at Belief and Beyond Belief on the South Bank. Topics covered were Science versus Religion: Do We Need to Choose? ; Quantum Theology: When Faith Meets Science; The Big Bang and Beyond; God of the Gaps. Religion and science ask the same questions but have different mechanisms to answer those questions.

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These were some of the points discussed – When we look to understand the human condition and question the meaning of life, what truth are we seeking? The scientists present seemed more content to live in doubt but appreciated aspects that religion offered such as community, emotional beliefs and quiet reflection. The difficulty for scientists was in accepting that religions think they are based on truth. This religious truth comes from faith and cannot be tested as the argument is that God is beyond definition and therefore transcends understanding. It may be that searching for answers to resolve uncertainty is a survival trigger that persists as a craving in the human condition. .

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The methodology of science is devised to look at facts unbiased, it has no moral or ethical framework. A theory in science is not a hypothesis. The scientists said they get frustrated by people saying they don’t ‘believe’ in their theory when they are based on facts. A theory may begin with a lot of intuition and wondering and develop like an artistic process of discovery within parameters; but then there is lots of testing, running the ideas through a sieve to filter out possible truths. A theory may start in mathematics but then is brought into the realm of language and the visual to express what we don’t understand. Georges Lemaitre in 1931 chose to explain his theory of the origin of the universe as “the Cosmic Egg exploding at the moment of the creation”; this became known as the Big Bang Theory. Pervasive metaphors colour our perceptions.

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Science is perfectly happy to interrogate contradictory theories at the same time unlike religious belief which involves accepting one truth. All religions can’t all be right but their own belief in one truth makes it hard for them to accept a non-exclusivity of truths. Science cannot offer us all the answers. There cannot be a theory of everything, there must always be a gap in our understanding because to understand everything we would have to be omniscient – to look in from the outside. Or step outside of our own subjectivity. Thinking about this I went back to look at Schrödinger’s Mind and Matter, particularly his chapter Science and Religion which asks if science can help answer the questions of a possible eternity. Plato was the first to frame the idea of a timeless existence, more real than our actual existence which he saw as a shadow from some realm of ideas. He looked at the patterns in mathematics and geometry embedded in the structures around him that were determined by reason and logic and concluded that mathematical truth is timeless; discovery of it does not bring it into existence, it never changes and goes on forever. Schrödinger opens up further ideas on the indestructibly of the mind using the theories of space/time from Einstein and world view from Kant. This moves into more mind bending ideas, that theoretically time can be reversed. Here I struggle. The theories when pulled from mathematics into language sound fantastical, yet I am asked to believe mathematics is a truth. Then we come to the quantum world where observation and measurement do not apply. And so on.

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Conclusions were: Our consciousness is the intrinsic unknown. We have to seek paradise even if it is unachievable and live our lives in a precarious state of doubt.

Analogies can be made, replacing religion with art. Making in Transit hosted an evening at Cube exploring art and science in collaborative situations to discuss the strengths and challenges in bringing them together. ‘Both physics and art thrive on the premise that there is structure as well as genuine ambiguity and mystery in the universe and although  very different in terms of practice, they both depend on an ability to visualise or conceptualise abstract notions and patterns.

There was an introduction to the world of Jiggling Atoms, a collaboration of scientists and artists who bring fun to workshops and experiments in arts and physics. Named after the visual interpretations of maths formula from Richard Feynman they display the same constant energy.

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Dr Daniel Glaser the director of the new Science Gallery London made the point that a successful collaboration is not so much about sharing knowledge but about tolerating each others ignorance, in this way a gap can be opened up for those who know nothing about either field to enter. The role of each party isn’t always clear or equal. He suggested the platonic ideal of ‘the essence’ was something artists could extract and Dr Chiara Ambrosio  suggested art should question the boundaries of science. Her interests are in the use of images to produce knowledge such as when high speed photography or microscopes revealed the secrets of the natural world. It was not as symmetrical as we supposed.

I returned the next day for an evening Imaging the Invisible to explore how we observe what we can’t see. Scientists and artists gave their perspectives on the invisible and how it operates in their own spheres. Bernard Siow and Yolanda Ohene from the Centre for Biomedical Imaging at UCL were passionate about the body imaging technologies they are developing, enabling extraordinary visualisations such as the muscle fibres of the heart.

Artist Dave Farnham has created sculptures through 3D print technologies that replicated internal structures from his friends who were going through medical scanning procedures due to illness.

Particle physicist Dr Ben Still introduced us to the world’s largest cosmic particle observation device The Super Kamiokande, set 1,000m underground in Japan.

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Using 50,000 tons of ultra-pure water as a target to detect neutrinos. The quantity is to increase the chances of a collision.  A neutrino interaction with the electrons or nuclei of water can produce a charged particle that moves faster than the speed of light in water. This creates a cone of light known as Cherenkov radiation, which is the optical equivalent to a sonic boom. The neutrino is a subatomic particle able to travel through matter without interacting, they have no electric charge and almost zero mass.

Lead is what we think of as most impenetrable. A lead lined coffin for Alexander Litvinenko. However it would take a light-year of lead, to stop just half of the neutrinos flying through it.

Anselm Kiefer Walhalla at White Cube Bermondsey weights the air with lead. We are in the lead coffin.

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Alternative materiality at Chain by 15 an artist led exhibition in Peckham presented an Itchy and Scratchy world brought together by the Pokémon generation.

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The Head Must Go cross stitch on linen by the uncompromising talent Hadas Auerbach was a delicate and poignant highlight.

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Enjoyed the beautifully staged performance  –Venus Anadyomene -a collaborative 3 channel video and performance by Verity Birt, Holly Graham and Richard Forbes Hamilton; part of ongoing research around de-colonising histories, feminist narrative and collective voice.

The layering of voices, looping narrative and rhythmic pulse hooked into lost voices of history transporting the audience into a dreamlike territory.

I was invited by Lumen:School of Light to show everydaymatters at Ugly Duck for a weekend showcase of artists who explore the relationship between astronomy and light.

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everydaymatters dissects landscapes to discover the hidden structures of the universe.

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Images taken from everyday prosaic paradises such as Paradise Road, Stockwell and Paradise Row Bethnal Green, are divided into constituent proportions of dark energy, dark matter and the visible world opening the spaces between what is seen and unseen.

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Anna Gray’s water filled glass sculpture gave endless pleasure

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the mini planetarium experience from Sylvana Lautier, Rose Leahy and Kim Yip Tong was blissful immersion

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Spaceheads & Rucksack Cinema multi media performance was funky

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Was quite energising to set up and take down over one weekend with lots going on

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