Archives for posts with tag: telescope

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 Originally made from ground and polished rock crystal or beryl, they were placed over texts to magnify them.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

1909 At a distance 1

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

1909 At a distance 2

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

 

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

1909 Helston museum

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

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

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

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Midsummer weekend at Allenheads Contemporary Arts. As always it was fantastic to be back in the North Pennines surrounded by the unique landscape and equally unique participating artists. Thank you to Helen Ratcliffe, Alan Smith and co-curator Rob La Frenais for creating such a stimulating event and inviting me to be part of it. Continuum contemplated shared futures and journeys; explorations of the unknown on a cosmological and human scale.

I was privileged to be given access to use the local Blacksmith’s Shop heritage site for Aóratos a site specific installation with fire and film.

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It is not impossible that wormholes exist in our universe.

To traverse space by means of a wormhole would require vast amounts of negative energy.

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Visitors were invited to burn offerings of negative energy to power a ‘wormhole’.

1906 token burning

Using specially prepared tokens visitors could write or draw messages to clear their subconscious of any negative or unwelcome thoughts.

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The offerings were burnt giving out blue and green flames in the forge fire releasing the absorbed negative energy to open the wormhole portal above.

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This turned out to be quite a personal and sometimes emotional experience for visitors who thought carefully about what they would send into the flames before ascending the stairs to enter the portal to the vortex and take the journey through the wormhole exiting at a different point to where they entered.

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1906 portal

Beyond the threshold hidden landscapes and alternative perspectives were revealed.

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It is hoped visitors left the wormhole video installation feeling cleansed and positively charged.

There was a wonderful enthusiastic crowd from Newcastle’s refugee community travelling with artist Henna Asikainen – ” Understanding what it means to be displaced from ones cultural, social and ecological environment and then to establish a home in another, which is fundamentally different, has been the basis for the emergence of my recent projects.”

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Henna shared a practice from her own Finnish culture through her participatory work Omens  – a divining practice from ancient times involving melting metal over an open fire and pouring it into cold water and then interpreting the resulting form. The interaction of metal and water being symbolic of different cultures coming together, making new forms, interpreting the outcomes together, and by sharing these hopes & fears, generating a dialogue about our common futures.

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Annie Carpenter and Alan Smith collaborated on Salvaged Alignment a sculpture activated by the sun at the exact moment of the solstice.

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Annie was also showing Perpetual Apogee  a sculpture referencing Victorian kinetic models of the solar system embracing inaccuracies inherent in such scientific modeling.

1906 annie carpenter

Alan Smith was screening his film 2052 looking at the everyday 33 years from now.

1906 Alan Smith

In the gallery Robert Good presented A New Atlas of the Sublime, a series of panels dissecting the hierarchies and subtleties of language used when attempting to describe the power of a sublime experience.

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Nicola Ellis, referencing algorithms and scientific technologies used in social media, gave visitors an uncanny experience in Watch Yourself Watch Yourself

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Sarah Fortais performing Voyager in her DIY spacesuit arrived from afar, by public transport, to explore the local neighbourhood of Allenheads through the eyes of an alien with accompanying space dog Maddy.

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Great to meet up with Pippa Goldschmidt again and hear more readings from her short stories inspired by past roles as astronomer and civil servant on The Need for Better Regulation of Outer Space.

 

Tracey Warr and Rob La Frenais Writing The Future workshop posted story portals around the village for visitors to discover.

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Much celebration at the launch of Lucien Anderson’s Humble Telescope on the cosmic pond. Come the dark skies of Allenheads, lay back and gaze up through the portal from a watery bed.

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1906 solstice sunset

As the solstice sun dipped John Bowers, Tim Shaw, Rob Blazey, Malcolm Conchie and Alan Smith began the annual Midsummer Night’s Drone that continued through to sunrise.

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Aóratos imagery took reference from theories of cosmic strings, space foam and the idea of a web of tiny wormholes connecting all points in space. Video was captured by putting an endoscope down rabbit holes looking for hidden root systems and a microscope was pushed into fibres and foam. The bare branches of trees reflect the branching decay of cosmic particles as they hit the atmosphere and break up.

Space travelers are subject to high levels of radiation from cosmic ray activity outside the protective magnetic field and atmosphere of Earth. As part of this project I worked with students Sena Harayama, Romain Clement De Givry and Medad Newman from Imperial College Space Society supervised by senior lecturer in spacecraft engineering Dr Aaron Knoll in an attempt to launch a cloud chamber in the payload of a high altitude balloon to view this activity.

The students had put a lot of effort into building a cloud chamber suitable to launch over 30km high into subzero temperatures with little air pressure.

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The final launch date pre-booked with the Civil Aviation Authority was upon us and so with just three days notice the team decided it must go ahead ready or not. Unfortunately the chamber had not been tested to see if it functioned on earth and during final assembly on the evening before the launch the chamber shattered.  Disappointed, the students worked into the night to make a substitute chamber.

I had been charged with making a connector out of garden hose, plumbers waste pipe, foam and sealant to pass helium from narrow cylinder pipe to wide mouth of balloon.

The launch took place on disused Oakley airfield kindly permitted by landowner Tom Baxter.

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The balloon reached an altitude of over 37 km and the payload was successfully recovered from a field of horses near Silverstone after an exciting car chase.

1906 final landing

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During the violent launch the camera inside the payload to capture activity in the cloud chamber was knocked aside.

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All we have is a short clip before darkness descends and the experiment becomes part of that which is unseen.
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Risograph leaflet for visitors to the wormhole installation, expertly printed by Elliott Denny.

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1906 Risograph 1

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In the Studio

Put The Forms (aluminium etched with dark matter visualisations) up for Open Studios at Thames-side Studios annual event which was buzzing this year with lots of workshops and activities and a festival feel flurry of food stalls.

1906 Open Studios

Meanwhile I was creating vibrant chemical landscapes ready to be encapsulated in screen printed tokens for the burning ritual to power the wormhole.

 

Out of the Studio

Carol Wyss hoping for rain to activate her enigmatic steel plates and reveal the codes within the bones in Coming Good: Come Hell or High Water an exhibition in St Johns Churchyard as part of Transforming Being Waterloo Festival.

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