Archives for posts with tag: meteorite

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 Originally made from ground and polished rock crystal or beryl, they were placed over texts to magnify them.

1909 reading stones

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

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

1909 Baetylus installed St Augustines Tower

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

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

1909 welding

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

1909 Baetylus meteor shower

rain + meteor = meteor shower

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

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

1909 Baetylus 1

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

1909 Lithomancy reading

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

1909 lithomancy board

The gemstones were assigned properties according to traditional meanings.

1909 assigning stones

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

1909 St Augustine tower stairs

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

1909 Carol Wyss All that remains

Carol Wyss All That Remains 

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

1909 Carol Wyss

1909 Carol Wyss Os

Carol Wyss Os

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

1909 Carol Wyss Osmosis

Carol Wyss Osmosis

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

1909 Anne Krinsky Ephemera Scrolls 2

Anne Krinsky Ephemera Scrolls

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

1909 Anne Krinsky Ephemera Scrolls 1

Anne Krinsky Ephemera Scrolls

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

1909 St Augustines Tower Clock

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

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

1909 time crystals video still

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

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

1909 Time Crystals

How can the past and future be, when the past no longer is, and the future is not yet?
As for the present, if it were always present and never moved on to become the past, it would not be time, but eternity.
― St. Augustine of Hippo, 397

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

 

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

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

1909 making triangles

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

1909 time crystals video installation detail

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

1909 secret tower

Artlyst review of Reading Stones. by Jude Cowan Montague.

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

 

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

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

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

1909 pocket spacecraft 3

1909 pocket spacecraft 4

He also allowed us to hold the tiny spacecraft.

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

1909 at a distance install

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

1909 Lizard Lighthouse

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

1909 Lizard Lighthouse 21909 LIGHTHOUSE beam

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

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

1909 At a distance 1

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

1909 At a distance 2

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

 

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

1909 Helston museum

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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’.

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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. “