“Nothing comes into being out of what is non-existent. It’s our common observation that nothing magically appears out of nothing. It is also our common experience that stuff doesn’t magically disappear. These are concepts that are embedded deep in our common understanding.” Jim Baggott

I have finished the video work exploring the decomposition of space.

Contingent Horizons looks at how space is perceived as a plotted dimension, as abstract space calculated mathematically but perhaps not something we can visualise, and as imagined space.

“You’re locked inside a bony skull trying to figure what’s out there in the world. There’s no light inside the skull, there’s no sound either, all you’ve got to go on are streams of electrical impulses which are only indirectly related to things in the world, whatever they may be. Perception, figuring out what’s there has to be a process of informed guesswork” Anil Seth

Setting off at dawn and walking the most direct route to each of the four points due North, East, South and West of my home the film charts the three mile journeys which approximate the distance to my visible horizon at sea level.

“It may be that these four dimensions are manifest to us but that in fact we are embedded in a higher dimensional space.” Neil deGrasse Tyson

Possible hierarchies of dimensions and perception are viewed from three speculative perspectives; ‘the seeker’ who wishes to discover what is beyond the horizon; ‘the seer’ who imagines what might be beyond; and ‘the scientist’ who offers calculated theories.

It’s possible that ‘spacetime is really dramatically warped so that we really only experience one region of space and other regions of space have less influence on us’ Lisa Randall

Constantly changing ephemeral landscapes begin to lose form and clarity as the horizon approaches breaking down into contour lines and foliations.

The decomposition of shape into lines and circles and obfuscating patterns reflects the difficulty we have not only trying to see what is beyond our horizons but how we interpret the world around us and what information we trust.

The journey is accompanied by audio clips from academic and popular lectures which act as a sort of internal dialogue. Walking and thinking. Walking can help to improve brain function and aid creativity.

We may live in a multiverse of bubbles each with wildly different laws of physics. String theory allows for many universes with different physical laws. It may be possible our universe could suddenly transform into a universe with different properties. If this did happen it would be so fast we wouldn’t even register it.

Enjoying the many patterns playing with kaleidoscope effects using video footage of soap film membranes. In the 7th dimension space acts in a similar way to a bubble membrane trying to minimise surface area.

Trying to visualize other dimensions is not easy. The odd little book Flatland written by clergyman Edwin Abbott in 1884 demonstrates just how hard it is to grasp anything beyond what we can experience.

I have been awarded a micro commission by Queens Hall Digital an arts organisation based in the North East of England to make a short film about our interaction with cosmic rays.

Cosmic rays, some travelling from other galaxies, pass through us and our world continuously, creating an almost tangible contact with outer space. Witnessing this incredible activity helps us to look beyond what our immediate senses tell us exists and consider the interconnectedness of our universe. I have been filming the beautiful trails formed within a cloud chamber by these unseen travellers from the stars and thinking about the journey of these particles and the impact of their collisions as they strike Earth’s atmosphere and shower down upon us.

Making tiles to fold together a bit like a lenticular but to reflect the raster pattern created when early television signals were broadcast using 30 lines to make up one image. John Logie Baird set up the Baird Television Development Company in 1926, he was the first to transmit experimental television broadcasts for the BBC.

Television and radio broadcasts can travel out of Earth’s atmosphere and through space, albeit quickly becoming very diffuse and hard to pick up. FM radio or television signals can pierce the ionosphere and travel through the vacuum of space at the speed of light. Currently these fragmented signals could be picked up by other worlds about 90 lightyears away. Basically my Mother’s lifetime to travel so far.

First exhibition visit in a long time was a real treat.

Victoria Rance’s In Real Life at Cable Depot. It was so good to escape into this poignant and shadowy otherworld. It was also available to view online via webcam but definitely best experienced sitting alone on the carpet in the dark.

‘And here is one of the map’s most important characteristics: the viewer is positioned simultaneously inside and outside it. In the act of locating themselves on it, the viewer is at the same moment imaginatively rising above (and outside) it in a transcendent moment of contemplation, beyond time and space, seeing everywhere from nowhere.’ Jerry Brotton in A History of the World in 12 maps

Locked down editing video work. Setting off at dawn and wearing a headcam I walked the most direct route to each of the four points due North, East, South and West of my home. I chose a three mile radius as this approximates the distance to my horizon at sea level.

I am interested in how space is perceived as a plotted dimension, as abstract space calculated mathematically but perhaps not something we can visualise and as imagined space.

I aim to relate these different perspectives on space to broader knowledge. In my film there are three speculative viewpoints; ‘the seeker’ who wishes to discover what is beyond the horizon, ‘the seer’ who imagines what might be beyond and ‘the scientist’ who offers abstract theories.

In the film I explore connections and hierarchies of physical dimensions and perception, the use of contour lines on maps, foliation and patterns in soap film membranes or marbling.

Foliation is the decomposition of shape into lines and circles. It occurs in geology as repetitive layering in metamorphic rocks and in mathematics as the analysis of curves and surfaces. The math’s language is way beyond what I can understand but it does have connections with holonomy and manifolds and Poincaré which I am interested in though I am yet to get to grips with any firm understanding. The notion of leaves (slices) allows for an intuitive way of thinking about a foliation. In mathematics, topology compares shapes to see if they have the same number of holes and handles and can therefore be moulded from one shape into the other by stretching, twisting, crumpling and bending, but not tearing or gluing.

I took many films of soap film membranes and have been exporting the final single frame at the moment the bubble bursts. I have used these frames to create sequences of collated membrane bursts. We may live in a multiverse of bubbles each with wildly different laws of physics. String theory allows for many universes with different physical laws. It may be possible our universe could suddenly transform into a universe with different properties. If it did happen it would be so fast we wouldn’t even register it.

I made a silver cape for some green screen filming in character as the seer. Learning lots about Adobe After Effects so if the editing requires I drop this section then the hours put in won’t be entirely wasted and the cape will come in for when next door can have their parties again.

Thinking about making new work that interacts in real time with cosmic rays as they hit the Earth’s atmosphere and shower down upon us.

Cosmic rays, some travelling from other galaxies, pass through us and our world continuously, creating an almost tangible contact with outer space. Witnessing this incredible activity helps us look beyond what our immediate senses tell us exists and consider the interconnectedness of our universe.

We are made of carbon. Most of the carbon in the world is carbon-12 which contains six neutrons and six protons. Protons and atomic nuclei created by events such as exploding stars speed across space and collide violently with the Earth’s atmosphere creating a chain reaction of cascading particles. Some of these particles created are neutrons which can smash into atoms of nitrogen to create carbon-14 which has six protons and eight neutrons.

Cosmic ray activity gives us carbon dating techniques. Carbon-14 is unstable and therefore radioactive. It has a half-life of 5,730 years. This means if a sample of a tree contains 64 g of radioactive carbon, then after 5,730 years it will contain 32 g, after another 5,730 years that will have halved again to 16 g. Radioactive decay is random but in a sample there are enough atoms to work out an average time it will take for the nucleus to lose the extra neutrons.

Carbon-14 atoms in the atmosphere combine with oxygen to create radioactive carbon-dioxide. This radioactive carbon-dioxide is absorbed by plants which are eaten by animals. When an organism dies no more carbon-14 will be absorbed. The existing carbon-14 will start to decay. By measuring the radioactivity, the current carbon-14 content can be determined and the time of death established.

A planet with twice the mass of Jupiter has been discovered orbiting HD70642 in an almost circular orbit. This means it is possible that Earth-type planets may be orbiting further in. In all other planetary systems discovered with massive planets they usually have disruptive closer elliptical orbits which would destroy any smaller planets on a circular orbit. Hope to return to my studio soon to continue work on ’90 light years home’ which will use a raster pattern on folded paper looking at mapping out a space ship as a star map using 137 points. As physicist Laurence Eaves states – ‘The number 137 would be the one you’d signal to aliens to indicate that we have some measure of mastery over our planet and understand quantum mechanics.’

137 comes from the fine-structure constant, also known as Sommerfeld’s constant and is represented by the alpha symbol α. Using several fundamental constants found in nature to give a fundamental physical constant. This number represents the strength of electromagnetic interaction between elementary charged particles which is the probability that an electron will absorb a photon.

I watched the Hito Steyerl lecture as part of the Dramaturgies of Resistance online event series.  ‘At this unprecedented time, when it seems as if “everything is canceled,” Steyerl’s most recent work explores the complex relation between spread (of conspiracy theories no less than viral contagion) and simulation (from the automization of performance to our capacities for virtual interaction with statistical probability of human risk).’

I was excited to find the lecture covered topics very relevant to my research into abstract space at the moment such as objects in topology. The Alexander horned sphere is a pathological object in topology. It is formed by starting with a standard torus, removing a radial slice of the torus and connecting a standard punctured torus to each side of the cut, interlinked with the torus on the other side. A pathological object is one which possesses deviant, irregular or a counterintuitive property, in such a way that distinguishes it from what is conceived as a typical object in the same category.

The opposite of pathological is well-behaved.

Mathematician Shing-Tung Yau set out to discover if there could be a spacetime which contains no matter but in which there is still gravity caused by the topology of the space. In 1977 he solved the Calabi Conjecture posed by Eugenio Calibi in 1954 who was interested in whether a certain type of topology guarantees a certain type of geometry. Topology looks at the overall form of an object and recognizes shapes that have an equivalent topology but different geometry such as a doughnut and a coffee cup as they can be morphed from one to the other. Topologists generally study manifolds. Manifolds are shapes that could be flat when looked at close up such as the earth’s surface or a ball if you were an ant. Each point on the surface can be mapped using two coordinates onto a 2 D plane and the shape is finite. Taking the average of all the curvatures at every point on the surface gives what’s called the Ricci curvature. A doughnut which is a 2D manifold mapped in this way has a Ricci curvature of zero which shows that a manifold can have a zero Ricci curvature at every point without being flat. There are also shapes which look 3D when seen up close and need 3 coordinates to map them. In mathematics it is possible to think of Euclidean (flat) space in any number of dimensions by increasing the number of coordinates you use giving manifolds in many dimensions. Transferring this equation to physics Ricci curvature describes the curvature of spacetime that’s induced by matter being present if this curvature is zero then it describes a spacetime with no matter. Yau proved that this type of manifold could exist in all dimensions. This type of manifold is known as the Calabi-Yau manifold. Particularly in superstring theory, the extra dimensions of spacetime are sometimes conjectured to take the form of a 6-dimensional Calabi–Yau manifold, which led to the idea of mirror symmetry.

Hidden in the future.

Grow the space of cooperation.

I took a couple of online geometry courses with The Princes School of Traditional Arts.

Mapping the Cosmos class was based on the geometry and symbolism of the Cosmati Pavement at Westminster Abbey which was laid in 1268.

The Geometry of Sound class looked at Chladni patterns which occur on a rigid surface caused by various modes of vibration.

We begin each drawing with a circle intersecting a horizontal line. The horizon where heaven and earth touch.

I am about to follow up on some of the recommended further reading.

Other reading has provided some mind blowing facts. Thanks Jim Al-Khalili.

There are scientists measuring time in attoseconds. There are more attoseconds in a single second than there have been seconds since the big bang.

Atoms are incredible tiny; you can fit more atoms into a single glass of water than there are glasses of water in all the oceans of the world.

“Which is older, day or night? “Night is the older, by one day.” — Thales

Progressing new work Seeker Seer Scientist. I have completed walks to my south and west horizon points wearing a head camera.

2011 south walk

Each walk starts at dawn and takes the most direct route to a point on the map 3 miles from my home. For an average height observer, the visible horizon is approximately 3 miles distant. The true horizon is usually hidden.

2011 south map

‘Horizon’ derives from the Greek ‘horizōn kyklos’ meaning “separating circle” which in turn comes from the verb to divide as in creating a boundary. 

2011 South 1

2011 south destination

The walk west was the longest of the four as the winding River Thames disrupted a very direct route.

2011 west 1

2011 west 2

After walking to each of the four compass points NESW I have about 5 hours of footage which I have edited down to about a 6 minute journey to the horizon edge. I am aiming for the final film to be viewed while on a treadmill to experience the meditative rhythm created by walking which heightens creative thought processes. The work will consider the existence of many more dimensions than we are aware of in our known and knowable universe from the perspective of mathematical theory and levels of consciousness.

‘We have many tools at our disposal to gather information about the world. Physicists are tuning their instruments to an unprecedented level of sensitivity. Ultimately, however, whatever external instruments we use, all data is experienced by our bodily senses. These senses turn out to be more finely tuned and calibrated than anything we have yet invented.‘ Ansuman Biswas

My friend has leant me her grandfather’s beautiful compass to use in the film. The magnetic compass was first invented as a device for divination as early as the Chinese Han Dynasty.

‘Scales of Intangibility’ an installation using cosmic trail projections within a velvet lined chamber was planned to be included at the 2020 Hidden Door Festival in Edinburgh. Due to the ongoing pandemic this was to be postponed until late spring 2021 but could now be postponed further.

In readiness I am running my cloud chamber to get some new footage.

The cloud chamber gives us a glimpse into the invisible world of particles produced in the radioactive decay of naturally occurring elements and those generated when cosmic rays strike the top of the earth’s atmosphere. The interactive experience brings alive the fact that these visitors from outer space are everywhere. Filmed on 4th November, the day of the American Presidential Election, this V for victory was an encouraging message from the stars.

2011 cosmic trail V

It’s also quite cool when a puff of air gets into the chamber.

2011 cloud chamber

Watched the London Screen Archives film about Woolwich which shows clips from Paradise Place. This has given me an idea for new work taking rubbings from the walls of paradise once I can travel about again in London.

Also testing the raster folding for the work 90 light years home. A raster scan, is the line by line pattern of image capture and reconstruction used in early television transmission. Work based on the idea that there may be a habitable planet orbiting HD 70642, a yellow dwarf star in the constellation of Puppis. At 90 light years away, extremely faint early broadcasts from Earth are now passing this planetary system. Representing the Stern, or Poop deck, of the Argo Navis, Puppis is one of the three constellations that once formed the huge constellation Argo Navis (the ship of the Argonauts). Looking at a contemporary (space) ship symbolizing adventures into the unknown that could be transmitted as raster image.

I found participating in Robbie Coleman and Jo Hodge’s Shoreline to Shoreline a very moving experience. This collective pilgrimage in the time of Covid to stand at the edge of any significant nearby body of water at 3pm on 20th December 2020 to remember, mark or memorialise loss was an invitation to feel grief without suppression and feel a connection through commonality.

Every droplet of rain, every snowflake that falls is on a circular journey. Water that evaporates from the surface of a puddle may arrive on the other side of the world as part of a wave crashing onto a beach. The journey may have taken a few days carried in clouds across the sky or a thousand years trapped in a glacier creeping through the Northern darkness.

2012 shoreline to shoreline

This coincided with the Winter solstice return of the light. Grief like a wave, swelling and rolling over you, making you gasp for air. We struggle against it but here I let it wash over me a little. I stood on the bank of the little Hogsmill river which is our nearest body of water and somewhere I visited often during lockdown and also on the day my Mother died when it seemed particularly vibrant.

Also checking on the progress of ‘stumpy’ in winter guise.

2012 stumpy

As night fell Saturn and Jupiter edged closer together. The 2020 great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn is the closest these planets appear since 1623 and the closest observable since 1226.

2012 great conjunction

The winter solstice is the precise moment at which the Northern Hemisphere is at maximum tilt away from the Sun. At that moment, the sun’s rays are directly over the Tropic of Capricorn (my birth sign). It is the day with the shortest period of daylight and longest night of the year. The shadow at noon is the longest a noontime shadow can be.

‘There’s something wrong! There’s something wrong – It’s high noon and my shadow’s long!’ Was Not Was One White Crow

After an exciting fun packed real life opening event, a stop and start exhibition between lockdowns Bow Arts Nye Thompson led Visions II programme at the Nunnery Gallery closed. It is still possible to view the films on the Nunnery Gallery YouTube Channel

During the window of opportunity between lockdowns I was able to enjoy a journey through Andy Holden’s cartoon world of existential angst The Structure of Feeling (A Ghost Train Ride) at Block 336.

Also an up close visit to the winding labyrinth of Terra Nexus, a network of interconnected installations questioning the role of the human as part of ecology at Proposition Studios and was lucky to be guided through by curator Gabriella Sonabend. Excellent poetic film One Day As I Was Driving Home by WR Saunders, which simultaneously condenses and stretches the experience of time exposing the unrelenting power of entropy. Great to see the congealed organicly industrial cavern Swimming in the Mud by Emma Jane Whitton. Whole show ambitiously moving to South Bank in New year.

Just squeezed in a trip to The Botanical Mind at Camden Art Centre.

The ceremonial use of entheogenic, or mind altering plants is closely associated with the shamanic tradition and many different cultures and traditions work with plant medicines for psycho-spiritual transformation. It has been suggested by academics and researchers that the evolution of human consciousness was catalysed by psychoactive plants. In the Amazon rainforest, the patterns found in nature are the basis of sacred geometries that indigenous people incorporate into their everyday world through their art and which trace a connection to a primordial reality where the material, immaterial, visible and invisible planes of existence were once unified and whole.

2010 at a distance

Delighted to be included in Visions In The Nunnery at Bow Arts and so good to be at the opening with live performances. Robert Luzar with Timo Kube Tracing Someone Else’s Skin and Libby Heaney presenting Top of the Bots karaoke where audience members embody pop idols via AI technology. 2010 Visions Robert LuzarBodies touching and people singing seemed illicit and extra joyful. 2010 Top of The BotsVisions in the Nunnery is Bow Arts’ biennial showcase of international moving image and performance art.

2010 VisionsLeaflet_Digital-2

Lead artist for Programme 2 is Nye Thompson. Creating new data-generating artist software systems she explores the hidden impact of new technologies. For Visions she premieres /artefact, an immersive work building a colossal border wall on Mars through satellite and google earth imagery accompanied by a throaty space-filled soundtrack.

2010 Visions Nye Thompson

For the first time, all Visions 2020 works will also be available online for international audiences and those shielding. The themes of programme 2 include digital mediation, digital infrastructure, the remote gaze, CCTV, borders and separation, other worlds and alternate geographies.

2010 at a distance 2

In At a Distance 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.

As in quantum entanglement theory where two paired electrons mirror each other at a distance it is hoped the message will be echoed back. This mysterious twinning of electrons where particles link in a way that they instantly affect each other, even over vast distances is what Einstein famously called ‘spooky action at a distance’.  The 4m video includes mirrored footage of the iconic Lizard Point Lighthouse and covers the time it takes for the lamp to power up. The video is back projected onto a Fresnel lens, similar to that found in lighthouses to increase luminosity of the lamps beam.

Exhibition and launch images below by Rob Harris courtesy of The Nunnery Gallery.

Updated my website Finding Paradise project pages with Paradise(suspended).

2009 featured image

Making (slow) progress on new moving image work Seeker, Seer, Scientist.

We each have a personal distance to the horizon based on our specific height of eye from the ground and the local elevation from sea level at which we stand. It is a place we can never reach as it always recedes as we approach.

Walking East at dawn.

2010 East 1

In my enthusiasm I may’ve set off a little too early and some footage has turned out to be rather dark, though passing the Sewage Treatment Works at this hour was an uncanny futuristic experience. It was the hummmm.

2010 East 2

Grappling with abstract space as I research for the audio track. Revisiting a lecture I attended at UCL on the 7th dimension by Jason D. Lotay

As you go up in dimensions there are more symmetries that you cannot see. There are special symmetries that only happen in the 7th dimension, this holonomy set of transformations is called G2.

There are 7 new numbers known as Octonians. The symmetry of the Octonians is precisely G2.

2010 symmetry

M theory unites the various different string theories into one master theory but in order to do this there must be 11 dimensions. These 11 dimensions are the 4 we know (3 dimensions + time) + 7 new dimensions (related to G2) (which I think allows for the multiverse to exist)

The 7th dimension is closely related to soap films and soap bubbles in that these try to minimise their surface area. Seventh dimensional things with holonomy G2 also try to minimise a kind of energy or area.

1810 freezing bubble

I am continuing to film soap film as light is spectacularly reflected from the surface. The colours depend on the thickness of the water sandwiched between the soap and as the membrane becomes so thin just before breaking the colours fade away.

2010 membrane filming

Trying a new soap bubble recipe with lots more glycerin and a different brand of washing-up liquid. I also have a larger frame for the soap film so I don’t know which factor has effected the results most but I’m getting falling rainbow stripes morphing to grey and black swirls.

2010 membrane 22010 membrane 1

Finally ventured back into the Print Studio to clean my screens ready for potential new work. It’s the first time I had been back for months. I’m working on images of glacial water which has been trapped for 80,000 years.

Everything we can see, everything we know exists, makes up just five percent of the matter and energy in the universe.

I watched the live stream Dark Matter Day event live from Sanford Underground Research Facility and Boulby Underground Laboratory and was struck by the use of the word shielding, it’s all about shielding which of course is something we hear a lot about now amid the pandemic. In the case of dark matter detection experiments it is about shielding from cosmic rays. On the surface of the earth 2/3 Muons pass through your hand every second, in the underground labs this is reduced by a factor of 10,000,000 to about once a month.

2010 particle trail

I also learnt that gravity travels at the speed of light.

Some wonderful online discussions are being had by The Diagram Research Group (DRG), a collaboration between artists David Burrows, John Cussans, Dean Kenning and Mary Yacoob. Each collaborator conducts an illustrated discussion that explores their interest in diagrams in relation to Flat Time and Latham’s ideas concerning the unification of scientific and artistic bodies of knowledge and the primacy of time and event (rather than space and matter).

As part of the National Parks Virtual Dark Skies Week 2020 there were a series of online events available such as a talk on The Search For Dark Energy from Dr Luke Tyas. The Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) will measure the effect of dark energy on the expansion of the universe. It will obtain optical spectra for tens of millions of galaxies and quasars, constructing a 3D map spanning the nearby universe to 11 billion light years. 

2010 stargazing

Looking at new ways to experience dimensions, Laure Provoust explores her approach to installations as living works, with sculptural elements and films that function in 3-D, invoking the viewer’s senses of taste and touch. In an online talk hosted by Yorkshire Sculpture Park she introduces us to her installation at Lisson Gallery where we are invited to learn a new language, new ways of connecting and associating.

2010 Laure Prouvost

It reminds me of the Carsten Höller perception-altering device I experienced back in 2015 that fed each eye with a different woodland perspective. I found it very unsettling. Like my brain was splitting. 

2010 Carsten Holler

This year I had to experience the London Film Festival at home with streamed content but was able to visit the BFI Blue room for the Expanded programme The Expanse, a gallery of immersive 360 videos and interactive virtual reality experiences. This was all free with lots of Covid safe help on hand to enjoy the VR.

Icarus – ‘don’t think of my fall, think of me soaring to the sun.’

2010 Icarus BFI

THE END Heather Phillipson’s sculpture of excess on the Fourth Plinth transmits a live feed of Trafalgar Square picked up by the drone’s camera and visible on a dedicated website www.theend.today giving a sculpture’s eye perspective.

2010 heather phillipson The End

Fascinating work by Trevor Paglen at Pace Gallery uncovers the hidden agendas and bias present in systems which now govern many aspects of our lives.

The works in this exhibition seek to provide a small glimpse into the workings of platforms that track faces, nature and human behaviour, and into the underlying data that structures how machines ‘perceive’ humans and landscapes.

You can visit virtually through a live web portal connected to cameras placed in the gallery, observe gallery visitors experiencing the work in real time and can even be “present” in the space by streaming your own webcam onto monitors displayed within the exhibition. Or you can visit in person as I did where I was assessed and evaluated by ‘ImageNet Roulette’ an interactive artwork that classifies people’s digitally-captured portraits according to one of the most widely-used datasets used for training and evaluating computer vision systems.

My classification oscillated between ‘dosser’ and ‘char’.

‘Bloom’, a series of large-scale photographs that depict flower formations conceptualized by various computer vision algorithms created to analyse the constituent parts of real-life photographs. The colours and shapes in the images represent similar areas that the AI has detected in learning from other images of flowers. They do not represent real-to-life colours so much as what the AI thinks the different parts of the images are.

‘The Standard Head’ is a large-scale reconstruction of the 1960’s mathematical model of a “standard head” by the pioneering researcher funded by the CIA, Woody Bledsoe. Conceived from the average measurements of the faces Bledsoe experimented with, Paglen reconstructed the “standard head” from rare information left behind in Bledsoe’s archives at the University of Texas. Artificial intelligence algorithms are designed and trained to look for faces, unique key points, lines, circles, and areas of interest as they attempt to deconstruct the underlying reality into a more simplified series of sections or shapes.

2010 Trevor Paglen 7

‘The Model (Personality)’, a plated bronze phrenology skull derived from the current categories that are used in predictive policing and sentencing algorithms that intend to gauge someone’s level of criminality by measuring their psychological attributes and behaviours.

2010 Trevor Paglen 1

‘Distracted Drivers’ and ‘Classifications of Gait’ showcase grids composed of thousands of smaller images used to evaluate people’s behaviours for commercial purposes.

The dataset for ‘Distracted Drivers’, for example, is a collection of images used to recognise if someone is distracted while driving by an AI system. This dataset was created by State Farm insurance to adjust their insurance premiums in real-time, based on that information.

The group exhibition Washing Line curated by Neil Zakiewicz and Patrick Morrissey at Thames-side Gallery took work away from the gallery walls and strung it across space. This made for a dynamic viewing experience negotiating a route to new perspectives. Two dimensional work hanging out in the world of three dimensions.

Robert Good’s stream(ers) of questions from Google News Feed rams home not only the overwhelming assault of media but the constant interrogation we are subject to. Another form of surveillance.

2010 Robert Good

Elizabeth Price raising the ghosts of a lost era in Slow Dans an Artangel presentation at The Assembly Rooms on Borough Road. This was a haunting and fascinating evocation of lost landscapes and what is quite recent but rapidly disappearing social history. Mineshafts, ink-wells, the human throat connect a geological past with a technological present.

2010 Elizabeth Price 12010 Elizabeth Price 22010 Elizabeth Price 3

2009 paradise suspended

Paradise (suspended) 

Latin suspendere, from sub- ‘from below’ + pendere ‘hang’ –

the prefix, sub- is often simplified to su- before sp; as seen in suspect, suspend, suspicion, suspension –

attachment from above/ imposed but not enforced/ dispersed through the bulk

A meshing of images and geometries which serve as a motif for the universe, fragmented and suspended echoing a time when dreams have been put on hold and the routines of daily life broken and held in limbo.

2009 paradise suspended 2

Work in progress looking at the possibility of a home from home orbiting the star HD70642 in the constellation of Puppis located about 92 light years away.  Link here to see HD70642 using the online planetarium Stellarium.

2009 STELLARIUM HD70642

This star has a long period planet companion making a circular orbit which means it is one of the most similar currently known planetary systems to our Solar System. There could be an Earth like planet orbiting this star. It would have taken my Mother’s whole life to reach here and the very first radio signals are only just arriving.

Puppis is one of the three constellations that once formed the huge constellation Argo Navis. In Greek mythology, the Argo carried Jason and his 50 Argonauts to Colchis at the eastern end of the Black Sea, to recover the Golden Fleece helped by Athena and Orpheus.

2009 Puppis

Imagine a world 92 light years away looking back at us. What patterns do the stars make? What stories are told here? Could those radio signals reaching them now be picked out from the noise of the universe?

I have made some progress with Seeker, Seer, Scientist an investigation at the boundary of my horizon. What lies beyond.

2009 gopro

Marking out a 3 mile radius on my customized ordnance survey map to determine each destination at the four points of my compass.  I embarked upon my first journey at dawn.

My GoPro headstrap had not arrived and so I had to improvise.

I was surprised by huge flocks of raucous parakeets rising from their overnight roost.

2009 parakeets

Destination North took me to Richmond Park. Wild deer and the terrifying roar of the nearby stag made a magical encounter.

2009 deer

2009 TEST membraneSome test filming of soap membranes for use in the film as a crossover point between the visual and the imagined reality.

2009 membrane 32009 membrane 22009 membrane still

Wonderful to hear that my video sculpture At a distance has been selected for Programme 2 of Visions in the Nunnery 2020 at Bow Arts

2009 At a distance

Nye Thompson’s Programme 2 explores our world through the many new digital systems that have fundamentally changed how we see and exist. Data is harvested, other worlds are imagined and the cataclysmic effect of technology is explored. I’m very excited to see her new work which virtually builds a colossal dividing wall on the un-walked territories of Mars.

In At a distance solitary figures using semaphore flags sign ‘We are one’ out across the ocean. Filmed at Lizard Point Cornwall on 29th March 2019 (the first date the UK was supposed to leave the EU). As in entanglement theory where two paired electrons mirror each other at a distance it is hoped the message will be echoed back.

Every outing is precious now. Visited Unit 1 Gallery/workshop Radical Residency V exhibition particularly to see the enigmatic sculpted forms of Marianne Walker’s 3D drawings connecting conversations across the ages echoing object and mark making. Impressive collection of works including Emily Woolley’s alchemical sculpture articulating swirling ocean currents through the use of mica.

First post lock-down gallery visit was to see Among The Trees at the Hayward Gallery.

‘In meditative works across different media, 37 artists explore how trees challenge how we think about time, and consider how intimately entangled they are with human affairs. They invite us to appreciate their soaring scale, in art works such as a monumental sculpture cast from a 2,000-year-old olive tree by Ugo Rondinone, a cinematic portrait of a 30-metre-high spruce tree by Eija-Liisa Ahtila, and a vast forest of trees constructed entirely from cardboard by Eva Jospin. Among the Trees transports us around the world – from Colombian rainforests and remote Japanese islands to olive orchards in Israel and a 9,550-year-old spruce in Sweden.

There was lots to feel in awe of as trees are such magnificent beings. During lockdown trees became a vital presence for everyone confined to their immediate neighbourhood. The daily walk gave us time to notice spring unfurl and appreciate local nature.

I followed the fortunes of stumpy from a brutal curtailment of growth happened upon during my first covid walk, to the fight back to regain some of what was before. Just as we are bristling and sending out tentative new growth as we emerge from lockdown.

2008 stumpy4 (4)2008 stumpy4 (3)2008 stumpy4 (2)2008 stumpy4 (1)

Rachel Sussman’s photograph Underground Forest #0707-1333 (13,000 years old; Pretoria, South Africa) Deceased 2007 was particularly intriguing.

2008 Among the trees 15

This is the crown of a tree that has migrated underground possibly to survive the areas regular wildfires.  These underground trees are found in the savannahs of southern Africa and South America and are different to the root systems of other trees. The shoots on the surface could be part of a network with large woody structures as much as one metre wide with stems measuring up to 10 metres across. If there is a fire the shoots above ground can quickly regrow. These underground forests are extensive and diverse and seem to be linked with the spread of the savannah around 8 million years ago that led to an increase in wildfires.

It is also what is known as a clonal tree which reproduces vegetatively underground. There are also clonal colonies where a forest of trees are all genetically identical linked by one network of roots that send up suckers. The world’s largest living organism (and maybe the oldest) is a clonal forest known as Pando or the Trembling Giant. This striking colony of quaking aspen covers 106 acres of Fishlake National Forest in Utah.

2008 Pando

The other thing everyone mentioned during lockdown was how birdsong was louder and more pervasive to our days as traffic and flights ceased to muddy our soundscape.

The lockdown zoom Ways of Listening from Complicité was a joy to listen to. I didn’t realise how starved I felt of these sort of conversations. Hopefully the link below will remain active for the future. Unlike our eyes, our ears are never closed.

Ways of Listening | Complicité

2008 complicite zoom

I also watched the film Infinite Potential: The Life and Ideas of David Bohm which gives a biographical account of his life and search for something beyond or at the intersection of science.

2008 David Bohm

Bohm was interested in consciousness because of its implications with regard to quantum theory.  He looks at the interconnectedness of all matter. How we interact with the earth, how we interact with each other. If we want to go beyond our current state of consciousness and experience wholeness we must look beyond the manifest veil of form to a realisation of oneness.

It’s very difficult to express the changes that have occurred since starting this post back in March. I was researching the electro magnetic spectrum towards new work and a potential UCL Observatory/Lumen Studios collaboration and looking ahead to installing the audience participatory work Scales of Intangibility at a secret location in Edinburgh with Hidden Door.

Change came on a global and personal scale with no time to prepare or assimilate. Suddenly no exhibitions, no gallery visits, no studio access and above all this was the loss of my Mother. A tiny woman with huge impact and treasured wherever she was known. Many people have found lock down a time to reflect, slow down and enjoy the spring awakening but for many others it has been blighted by loss.

This blog is a diary of interests that usually relate to my work and I use it to remember things I’ve seen and to help contextualize my thoughts. My Mother’s illness and death have been the main focus of my thoughts since March so writing about it serves a similar purpose of holding onto something.

My very active and independent Mum became seriously unwell at the beginning of lock down and was taken into hospital. So began weeks of waiting, telephone calls and anxiety. No hospital visits and little information to be gleaned from busy overstretched staff. A couple of weeks in came the feared news that she had contracted Covid-19. We all must endure the ultimate loss of our parents but to be forcibly separated while they suffer was never a consideration. For a time one ward had a covid designated tablet and so Mum, who had never used a mobile let alone smart phone, was introduced to Skype. Often she was too weak to lift the tablet and so we spoke remotely to the space above her head, the darkness of a blanket or the blurred view of a patient opposite. Occasionally, and especially the first time after weeks of isolation, when our eyes locked across the covid divide and we exchanged smiles her exhausted face lit up. From these depths it seemed impossible but slowly she recovered enough to be discharged and I moved in to care for her at her Suffolk home.2004 washing

Her joy at being home soon dampened as her new reality became evident. Fighting for breath at the slightest exertion and despairing at her failing body she clung to her faith and prayed for release.

2004 beach

In three weeks she was back in hospital. A week later she died in the early hours of a foggy June morning. I was able to be with her at the end for her final few hours, a raw and precious experience for both of us.

The three hour drive from home to the hospital as the sun dipped and then rose, bracketing the night she died, was a surreal experience compounded by a comprehensive display of extreme weather heightening my mortal awareness of the sublime in nature.

Masked, I stood at the bedside holding her hand as she drifted in and out of sleep and lucidity. When she asked if this was the end I had to say yes, we have to say goodbye and grasped clumsily for appropriate words of comfort. She replied that she wasn’t afraid and told me that she loved me. Presently, she opened her eyes one last time and maybe it was the anecdotal light she saw that drew her gaze upwards as her face softened in willing acceptance. Slowly her consciousness ebbed and each faltering intake of breath grew a little further apart so that I didn’t notice for a few moments when she had gone.

2006 nature

At the funeral the Reverend spoke of her earthly body, no longer needed, being returned to the elements. Nature seemed very vibrant that day.

Time passed, passes fast.

I have spent a lot of time distractedly editing webpages of old projects. What to do with all these images of past work, past events. Now I have inherited my Mother’s photographs too. Albums of blurred, faded images of people and places, many unknown.

Process driven work is good at times when focus wanders.  Cutting shapes for a hanging sculpture I had started before life was abruptly suspended – Paradise (suspended)

2005 wip paradise suspended

A meshing of images and geometries which serve as a motif for the unknown universe  fragmented and suspended echoing a time when dreams have been put on hold and the routines of daily life broken and held in limbo.

Made a post lock down foray to Epsom Downs to try and spot the comet Neowise.

2007 epsom downs

Naively thought on arrival that the packed car park at 1am was fellow astronomy enthusiasts but it turned out to be a hang out for displaced clubbers. Advised to leave by a couple of concerned girls who said that if I had the camera out here it would certainly get nicked. There was too much light pollution anyway.

2007 epsom downs 2

Lock down solargraph retrieved and scanned to discover some pinhole alignment issues. 2005 lockdown solargraph

 

Back in March …

Researching early radio and television transmissions.

FM radio and television signals can penetrate through the ionosphere and then travel at the speed of light through space but as they are omni-directional the signals soon become extremely diffuse and hard to pick up. A receiver on another planet would need to look for unusual patterns to pick the signal out from all the background noise present.

2003 Science_and_Invention_Nov_1928_pg618

Hidden, an exhibition at the RCA showcasing work from the College’s technical and non-academic staff.

Kam’s video game was very popular

2003 Hidden RCA 2

I joined Olga Suchanova for her Solargraphy workshop as part of the exhibition programme she had curated at Lumen Studios Crypt.

The exhibition explored how solargraphs are able to “condense time” within one image. Solargraphs capture the movement of the Earth around the Sun, as well as the tilt of the Earth.                                                                                                                    2003 pin hole solargraphy

We each made a pin hole camera from a drinks can with photographic paper inserted inside. Mine is now attached to the drainpipe to catch the daily arc of the sun.

 

2002 St Augustine's Tower

In the studio I have been experimenting with magnets and iron filings while thinking about magnetoreception, methods of navigation and finding the way in the dark.

2002 magnetoreceptor wip 1

Some interesting research at the Max Planck Institute headed by Dr Christine Nießner has been looking at the light-sensitive molecules that exist in bacteria, plants and animals which are used for perception of the Earth’s magnetic field to aid orientation and navigation.  In birds the cryptochrome molecule is located in photoreceptors in the eyes and is activated by the magnetic field but only reacts to the magnetic field if it is simultaneously excited by light.

An additional meaning to birds eye view.

In animals, these molecules are also involved in the control of the body’s circadian rhythms. The researchers think that some mammals may also use this cryptochrome to perceive the Earth’s magnetic field. In evolutionary terms, the blue cones in mammals correspond to the blue- to UV-sensitive cones in birds. It is therefore entirely possible that this cryptochrome in mammals has a comparable function.

2002 magnetoreceptor wip 2Observations of foxes, dogs and even humans indicate that they can perceive the Earth’s magnetic field, but may perceive it in a different way, for example with microscopic ferrous particles in cells known as magnetite. A magnetite-based magnetic sense functions like a pocket compass and does not require any light.

2002 naked mole rat

Mole rats navigate their dark tunnels using this kind of compass. Birds also have an additional orientation mechanism based on magnetite, which they use to determine their position.

 

 

 

2002 dark skies forest

 

Continuing research for a collaborative event with UCLO looking at the planetary system most similar to our own Solar System which contains the bright star HD70642. It is visible with binoculars from the southern hemisphere toward the constellation of Puppis.  “The Stern”  (poop deck) was once part of the constellation Argo Navis. Argo was the ship that Jason and the Argonauts sailed on their quest for the Golden Fleece2002 star map Argo Navis

A planet with twice the mass of Jupiter has been discovered orbiting HD70642 in an almost circular orbit. This means it is possible that Earth-type planets may be orbiting further in. In all other planetary systems discovered with massive planets they usually have disruptive closer elliptical orbits which would destroy any smaller planets on a circular orbit.

At 90 light years away, extremely faint early radio broadcasts from Earth are now passing this planetary system. It was around 90 years ago when University College London Observatory first began exploring the night sky. It was also around then when my mother was born which gives a human scale to the journey time. The constellation of Puppis is only visible from the southern hemisphere but should there have been a radio broadcast about the opening of UCLO then this information would now have travelled to this potential alternative home.

2002 UCL Observatory

 

British Pathé produced a short but sadly silent (sound was not introduced until 1930) newsreel of the opening of the observatory at UCL in 1929. View here

 

 

 

 

There may be a chance to discover Earth like planets using the new high precision spectrometer technology developed by Macquarie astrophysicist Christian Schwab which collects starlight from  unimaginably distant stars and measures the subtle effect orbiting planets have on their parent stars.

2002 spectograph Kitt Peak Observatory

Further research for a future video work The Seeker, The Seer, The Scientist. Looking to the horizon, the line that separates earth and sky.  The optical horizon is what we see but is not at the same as the geometric horizon which allows for the curvature of light due to atmospheric refraction. If the surface of the Earth is colder than the air above it, light is refracted downward as it travels around the curvature of the Earth and if the ground is hotter than the air above it light is refracted upwards causing a mirage.

2002 horizon

The true horizon is usually hidden.

2002 horizon sea

We each have a personal distance to the horizon based on our specific height of eye from the ground and the local elevation from sea level at which we stand. It is a distance we can never reach as it always recedes.  The seeker must send a seer to visit their horizon and report back on what it is they see, they may also send a scientist. The seer can see beyond, but is what they see real or imagined, the scientist can explain what is beyond but this is just abstract space.

My height of eye = 1.5m + local elevation

Distance to horizon = √(13 x height of eye)

2002 iris for etching

Some interesting ideas in The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception, a 1909 text by Max Heindel which seem relevant to my meanderings intersecting cosmic particle trails with matter. This text, setting out a theory of seven Worlds and seven Cosmic Planes, supposes an intermingling of spirit with matter where the intersection of the material and metaphysical world are not one above another in space, but inter-penetrate each with the other.2001 cosmic planes

Beginning the process of disposing of old work and bits and pieces. Storage is a big problem for artists I think.

2002 plastic

Also reworking old prints. It’s taken a couple of years to percolate but am working on a suspended paradise.

2002 paradise suspended

Out of studio.

A brief look at what is current in Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2019 at South London Gallery

200219 new contemporaries

The Missing Day discussion on 29/02 as part of the The Habitat of Time programme at Arts Catalyst curated by Julie Louise Bacon was a cross discipline interrogation of the social, political and personal impact of how we order time.

  • Once every four years, here in the collective habitat of Earth time, 365 becomes 366 as the missing day of the leap year makes another appearance in the now-global calendar. This quadrennial occurrence foregrounds the essentially malleable nature of time. From the earliest lunisolar calendar developed in Babylon during the Bronze Age, to the invention of atomic clocks in the mid 20th century, and speculations on the quantum realm in the laboratories of today, time’s parameters have taken on new guises, shaping and regulating life in the process.

The Missing Day roundtable explores the development of human modes of measuring and understanding time, and their impact on the ways we order time as societies, individuals and a species. The discussion will bring together perspectives on observing, keeping and speculating on time from the fields of the history of science and physics. It will consider the emergence of the modern regimes of time that dominate social life, their limits and the possibilities beyond.

Chaired by the curator Emily Akkermans ‘Curator of Time’ at National Maritime Museum Greenwich spoke about the mechanics of horology and the trade and empire building that led to time keeping for navigation, transport systems, industry and financial markets. Artist Ted Hunt whose work is featured in the 24/7 Somerset House exhibition spoke about his attempts to deconstruct the clock and find alternative methods of recording time. Artist Ami Clarke from Banner Repeater had a stark message about capitalism driving our relationship to time, taking control away from the human as algorithms respond to twitter announcements and fluctuate markets faster than humans can intervene to prevent malfunction. Particle astrophysicist Cham Ghag was present to give insight into how time does not exist in physics apart from in the law of thermodynamics. All other processes are reversible but heat can only travel in one direction. He also spoke about the importance of good quality sleep and disengaging from the demands of 24/7 ordered time.

2002 habitat of time

24/7 – A WAKE-UP CALL FOR OUR NON-STOP WORLD at Somerset House. With over 50 works it was a bit of a sensory overload in itself but thankfully interspersed with meditative works that gave some respite. An urgent analysis of sleep deprivation, disrupted circadian rhythms and non-stop culture.

The current new materialisms reading group book is Posthuman Knowledge by Rosi Brandotti who writes about complex multiplicity and a global exhaustion from having to negotiate new technologies, the political landscape and climate urgencies, like surfers riding an ever increasing number and magnitude of waves. How do we position ourselves (we who are in this together but are not the same)  in a world where we must distinguish ourselves from non-human (I am not  ROBOT) yet embrace and include the non-human; confer rights to nature; dismantle dualisms?

The question of what is it to be human is wonderfully scrutinised in Caryl Churchill’s play A Number which looks at human cloning and identity, particularly nature versus nurture in making us who we are. The story, set in the near future, is structured around the conflict between a father and his sons – two of whom are clones of the first one. The original son feeling loss of self, the second son feeling a poor copy, and subsequent sons freed of guilt or jealousy or lacking in introspection and depth.

2002 mirrors

Research Network: Ecological Sci-fi – Artist talk with Stephanie Moran and Keiken at Inniva.

Scientists have been incorporating more and more attributes based on animal perception and behaviour into media, a process that has been intensifying since the beginnings of Modernism, from steam engines to AI (Lippit, 2000; Parikka, 2010). If we are already cyborg, we are also already interspecies cyborgs, albeit in anthropocentrically instrumentalised, alienated form. As artist Jennet Thomas’ dystopian sci-fi film proposes, “The category ‘human’ is falling apart…” (Animal Condensed>>Animal Expanded#2

Stephanie Moran’s PhD research considers how to think about ourselves as part of a shared ecosystem and to consider the embodied experiences of other species that share our world but inhabit very different experience-worlds. Unfortunately I found it hard to hear and follow her talk, and keep pace with the slides. I’m sure there was a lot of interesting information that escaped me. I did pick up the mention of magnetoreception though.

2002 Stephanie Moran

Astrobiology researcher Professor Lewis Dartnell gave an interesting talk at Conway Hall Origins – How the Earth Made Us

Geological forces drove our evolution in East Africa; mountainous terrain led to the development of democracy in Greece; and today voting behaviour in the United States follows the bed of an ancient sea. The human story is the story of these forces, from plate tectonics and climate change, to atmospheric circulation and ocean currents.

2002 Cutty Sark

Slow time. Norwegian choreographer Ingri Fiksdal presented Diorama at Greenwich on a thankfully bright February lunchtime.

These performances reflect on the passing of time, on the slow change in landscape, and scenography as an ecological practice of bodies both human and non-human.

The word “diorama” often refers to a three-dimentional model of a landscape, such as displayed in museums of natural history. Another use of the word is for the French diorama theatre, invented by Louis Daguerre in 1822, where the audience were sat watching big landscape paintings transform through skillfully manipulated light, sound effects and live performers.

 

ONE FOLD, TWO FOLD, TEN FOLD, MANIFOLD at Exposed Arts Projects.

2002 manifold library

Manifold has varied meanings across context and research discipline with use in mathematics, topology and geometry.  It describes .

2002 manifold Gina DeCagna

 

Artist Gina DeCagna presented her explorations with discarded cardboard built into installations looking at layering and hierarchy. These assemblages work as symbolic means to arouse social questions around empowerment and inequality.

 

 

 

In mathematics, topology compares shapes to see if they have the same number of holes and handles and can therefore be moulded from one into the other by stretching, twisting, crumpling and bending, but not tearing or gluing.

Topologist Dr Mehdi Yazdi gave an introduction to mathematical concepts in topology, manifolds and foliations from abstract space to the expanding rings of trees found in nature. Foliation is the decomposition of shape into lines and circles. We gained visual inspiration from hands on participation with marbleised paper.

2002 marbling

Mushrooms: The art, design and future of fungi – an exhibition at Somerset House celebrating the remarkable mushroom, and all the progressive, poetic and psychedelic wonder it evokes.

2002 mushrooms (3)

Michael Pollen’s excellent book How To Change Your Mind  sets out a fascinating history of psychedelics bringing us up to date with current research and future potentials for treating addictive behaviour as well as offering well adults access to an alternative consciousness. Told through his own experiences using LSD and psilocybin under guidance and his many interviews which researchers, practitioners, therapists and volunteers one overarching theme that comes out is a feeling of transcendence to another plane of consciousness which many interpret as becoming one with the universe or feeling the presence of god and an overwhelming sense of love. Could this chemical be the catalyst to opening receptors in our brain enabling us to access a consciousness present in the universe outside our body or are the emotions, visions and dissolution of ego experienced by those taking psychedelics all taking place within the brain?

Pollen quotes from Aldous Huxley’s experiences documented in his 1954 book The Doors of Perception where he describes an unmediated access to realms of existence which is always present but kept from our awareness by a “reducing valve” of everyday waking consciousness a kind of mental filter that admits only a “measly trickle of the kind of consciousness” we need in order to survive. A bit like us only seeing certain wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum.

The title comes from William Blake’s 1793 book The Marriage of Heaven and Hell which expresses a unified vision of the cosmos in which the material world and physical desire are equally part of the divine order. It would not be hard to imagine Blake’s visions rooted in a psychedelic experience.

2002 William Blake

Over 250 years after the young William Blake saw a vision of an angel in a tree on Peckham Rye, Flat Time House has commissioned six poets to bring their words and visions to Peckham. Each of the poets has been commissioned to write in response to the life and work of William Blake and/or in response to that other creator of cosmologies, John Latham.

Poets in Response to Blake is part of the exhibition programme The Bard – William Blake at Flat Time House. The evening I attended we gathered to hear Chris McCabe, Niall McDevitt, Karen Sandhu and Iain Sinclair read from their commissioned works. It was such a treat to hear the spoken word live. A time to listen and reflect. Each of the contributions was evocative and insightful. I like that Iain Sinclair suggested John Latham was of such an expansive mind that he spanned time and consequently predated Blake.

“Spectral Latham pre-deceases William Blake,

      while both magicians,

burning like thermal lances, are numbered among

     the chain of stars.

Curved light reaches through infinitely extended

   quantum crumbs,

Planck time, to a black metal box that flattens,

   swept by paper waves,

into a cemetery suburb on the hill. Angelic incidents

   are reported”       Iain Sinclair

 

 

 

 

 

Visit to UCL’s Astronomical Observatory in Mill Hill.

1912 UCL observatory 3

Thanks to knowledgeable hosts Mark Fuller and Thomas Schlichter for a wonderful tour of the UCL observatory and to Lumen London for organising.

1912 UCL observatory 1

Shame it was cloudy but I enjoyed seeing the telescopes and hearing the history of this beautiful site. Looking forward to future collaborations.

We didn’t see the stars outside but an archive image and a loop lens proved fascinating.

1912 UCL observatory 71912 UCL observatory 8

In the studio back after a busy year I have been tidying up, building mezzanine storage shelves and planning new work looking at cosmic planes, thinking about star HD70642 – a possible home from home and what lies beyond the horizon that I can never reach.

 

New Doggerland at Thames-side Gallery presents a future imagining of physical and cultural re-connection between Britain and the European mainland.

Doggerland was an area of land that once connected Britain to continental Europe. At the end of the last ice age a warming climate exposed land for habitation but gradually the lowlands were flooded as temperatures rose further then about 8,200 years ago, a combined melting of a glacial lake and a tsunami submerged Doggerland beneath the southern North Sea. Great work including these from Jane Millar, Oona Grimes and Sarah Sparkes.

It was the place to be on 31/01/2020.

Nam June Paik at Tate Modern. Amazing pioneer of technology in art. Colliding nature, entanglement, connectedness, meditation, transmission.


Trevor Paglin From ‘Apple’ to ‘Anomaly’ (Pictures and Labels) at The Barbican Curve.

The long wall is filled with thousands of pinned photographs taken from ImageNet, a publicly available data set of images, which is also used to train artificial intelligence networks. ImageNet contains more than fourteen-million images grouped into labelled categories which include the unambiguous ‘apple’ along with such terms as ‘debtors’, ‘alcoholics’ and ‘bad persons’. These definitions applied to humans by AI algorithms present an uncomfortable future of machine induced judgement.

 ‘Machine-seeing-for-machines is a ubiquitous phenomenon, encompassing everything from facial-recognition systems conducting automated biometric surveillance at airports to department stores intercepting customers’ mobile phone pings to create intricate maps of movements through the aisles. But all this seeing, all of these images, are essentially invisible to human eyes. These images aren’t meant for us; they’re meant to do things in the world; human eyes aren’t in the loop.’ Trevor Paglen

Interestingly there was no photography allowed in the Trevor Paglen show. So I tried Image net for an image to post. I searched for ‘artist’ but ImageNet is under maintenance so I tried Google and this is the first image I got.

2001 artist

Another great show from Kathleen Herbert, A Study of Shadows at Danielle Arnaud. Using the cyanotype to interrogate the history and science of Prussian Blue and discover what emerges from the shadows through process and research. We learn – ‘Prussian Blue has a unique chemical structure and was originally created through the cyanotype process. It was the colour used to measure the blueness of the sky and was also used in the UK during the Chernobyl disaster as an antidote to radiation poisoning, preventing Caesium 137 from entering the food chain. Prussian Blue also has the ability to heal itself; if the intensity of its colour is lost through light-induced fading, it can be recovered by being placed in the dark.’

2001 Kathleen Herbert 4

The sound and video work Everything is Fleeing to its Presence relates a narrative of impressions and scientific facts while the visuals of varying tones of blue appear and disappear in hypnotic succession. Together the effect is of immersion, like the chemically coated paper, in a pool of blue.

Mary Yacoob Schema at Five Years Gallery. Also using cyanotypes, but here exploring the architectural roots of this process through precise silhouettes, detailed drawing, structure and form which is then exposed to the unpredictable chemistry to produce beautiful outcomes.

2001 Mary Yacoob (1)

Anselm Keifer at White Cube Bermondsey.  Superstrings, Runes, The Norns, Gordian Knot all tied together in characteristically monumental paintings thick with stuff in an attempt to connect complex scientific theory with ancient mythology.

2001 Anselm Keifer 12001 Anselm Keifer 2

William Blake at Tate Britain. What visions, such torment. So much mortal flesh.

Anne Hardy The Depth of Darkness, the Return of the Light winter commission for Tate Britain, a sort of after party dystopia with an impressive soundscape of rain, thunder, birds and insects inspired by pagan descriptions of the winter solstice – the darkest moment of the year.

2001 Tate Britain Anne Hardy

We sit together for a minute at Thames-side Gallery. Alex Simpson and Alice Hartley share a similar sensibility making dynamic and intuitive works. The gallery is alive with gestural forms, captured fragments and movement held momentarily in stasis, both fragile and immediate.

2001 Alex Simpson2001 Alice Hartley

The Computer Arts Society, The Lumen Prize and Art in Flux join London Group members at The Cello Factory for a second In The Dark curated mash up of light and technology artworks that overlap and collide in Even darker. Curated by clever duo interactive filmmakers Genetic Moo, artists include Carol Wyss and Sumi Perera.

 

Bridget Riley at Hayward Gallery. Messing with perception; undulations and vibrations.

2001 Bridget Riley (1)

Mark Leckey O’ Magic Power Of Bleakness at Tate Britain. Sense of bleakness achieved in synthetic bridge recreation which gave gallery awkward angles. Voyeuristic social commentary, old rave footage. Magic found interspersed in otherworldly images contrast to dank underworld.

2001 Mark Leckey

Some beautiful artefacts in The Moon exhibition at Royal Maritime Museum Greenwich celebrating 50 years since the Apollo 11 Moon landing.

Astronomicum Caesarean 1540 – rotating paper discs are used to track the moon’s position which the physician would then interpret to predict if the patient might improve or relapse.

1912 Moon Exhibition volvelle

Orrery 1823-27 by John Addison includes a special geared section to show the rise and fall of the moon and mimicking the tilt of its orbit.

1912 Moon Exhibition orrery

Selenographia 1797 by John Russell. It models the slight wobble or libration of the moon meaning that over time a little more than half of the side of the moon is visible from Earth.1912 Moon Exhibition selenographia

Moon rocks, encased.

1912 Moon Exhibition rocks

A Distant View III by United Visual Artists. A 3D rendering in wood of original NASA data imaging of the moon’s surface from the Orbiter mission 1966/7

1912 Moon Exhibition UVA

Very lucky to be invited by Rachael Allain for a tour of The Queen’s House at the National Maritime Museum Greenwich led by curator Matilda Pye. We saw the Susan Derges commission Mortal Moon inspired by the Armada Portrait of Queen Elizabeth 1 and a celestial globe, dating from 1551.

1912 susan derges-mortal-moon

The fractal elegance of the Tulip staircase.

1912 Queen's House Tulip Staircase

Which is also where the Queen’s House ghosts were inadvertently photographed by retired Canadian Reverend R.W Hardy on his visit in 1966. Recreated in situ by Matty with mobile. Apparently photographic experts examined the original negative and found no signs of tampering.

1912 Queen's House Ghosts

Ending the tour with Tacita Dean’s poignant photos of the desolate shell of the Teignmouth Electron, the yacht that bore Donald Crowhurst to his miserable and solitary death. It looks so small.

1912 Tacita Dean

Immersive installations inviting a change of consciousness at TRANSFORMER: A Rebirth Of Wonder presented by The Store X The Vinyl Factory. Including Doug Aitken NEW ERA dramatic video-scape looking at the first phone call and future communication highway.

1911 Doug Aitken 21911 Doug Aitken

Mark Bradford’s paintings in Cerberus at Hauser & Wirth London recall the vibrant matter of creation, the splitting of the earth in molten rivulets to expose the dark underbelly.

1911 Mark Bradford

I am reading W. G. Sebald’s rambling Rings of Saturn. Revisiting my home county and local haunts through his eyes. He set off in 1992 but it feels like a journey back further in time as there are so many reminiscences and anecdotes from the past. Among the vaguely defined histories is the story of the demise of the estate of Henstead Hall under guardianship of the eccentric Major Wyndham Le Strange who shunned the outside world and took to a literally underground existence.

These images from 2014 when I visited the abandoned walled garden at Henstead became fragments for my work titled Pairi Daêza, an ancient Iranian word meaning ‘around’ and ‘wall’; the origin of ‘paradise’.

1705 Open Studios Pairi Daeza

A tenuous link but I discovered Henstead Hall subsequently become home to Douglas Farmiloe a self-described “Mayfair playboy” who had found himself in the scandal pages of the News of the World during the 1930s, after an indiscretion with a hostess from the West End ‘Paradise Club’.

Lizard Point Residency Exhibition travelled from the rambling halls of The Museum of Cornish Life in Helston to the subterranean curves of Lumen Studios Crypt at St. John on Bethnal Green London. A squeeze for eighteen artists but helped by the crossovers in work created responding to the communication heritage and dark skies of the Cornish Coast experienced during the early spring residency.

1910 at a distance sculpture

My contribution to this exhibition At a distance (click for video link) 

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).

1910 At a distance semaphore

As in entanglement theory where two paired electrons mirror each other at a distance it is hoped the message will be echoed back.

1910 At a distance echo

The work looks at methods of communication across space. 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 resulting 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.

1910 At a distance lamp 1

The semaphore sequences interplay with mirrored imagery of the lizard lighthouse lamp as it powers up gaining brilliance as darkness falls.

1910 At a distance lamp 2

Astro-archaeologist Carolyn Kennet gave a very interesting talk at the exhibition private view. We often think about how long it takes light to travel from the stars to us but as she pointed out, this year sees the 400 year anniversary of Lizard Lighthouse and if you were looking back towards Earth from the Pleiades which are around 400 lightyears away you would just be seeing the photons of light arriving from the lighthouse as the first fires were lit to guide the ships navigating the treacherous rocky seas.

1910 The Pleiades.jpg

A short video documenting Continuum has been released by Allenheads Contemporary Arts. An inspiring season of art, science and speculative fiction ending in a midsummer’s weekend of extraordinary events.

1910 ACA solstice sunset.jpg

Out of Studio…

Other Spaces at 180 The Strand

Light and Sound Installations from London-based United Visual Artists founded by Matt Clark who integrate new technologies with traditional media such as painting, sculpture, performance, and site-specific installation.

Vanishing Point is inspired by Renaissance drawings by Leon Battista Alberti, Leonardo Da Vinci and Albrecht Durer.

1910 UVA (1)1910 UVA (2)

The Great Animal Orchestra –  a soundscape of animal recordings, captured in their natural habitats around the world by sound ecologist Bernie Krause visualised by UVA into abstract spectrogram landscapes of the environments where the animals live.

1910 UVA Bernie Krause

ERRATA (Extreme Remote Rural Artist Travel Agency) Gaada hosted by Creekside Artists for Artlicks Weekend 2019.

Ever wished to leave the city for a far away place + a new island life? Shetland artist-led initiative Gaada critically explore the barriers and benefits of contemporary art practice in extreme, remote, rural contexts. What does an art ecology look like without buyers / galleries / studios / making facilities / public transport links ?

London visitors were invited to answer questions posed by the artists and consider how an art practice might be sustained outside of the city.

1910 GAADA.jpg

Emerging Cosmic Landscapes Symposium at University College London.

An event exploring the benefits of art/science relationships at the culmination of Lisa Pettibone’s year-long residency at Mullard Space Science Laboratory (UCL) along with collaborator Dr Tom Kitching, science lead on MSSL’s Euclid Mission and Ben Murray (Kings College London and co-director of Phenotypica). What came across was the shared benefit of cross discipline collaboration. The artist enjoying access to question the motivations of the scientists and observe their operations while opening up a more sensory approach for the scientists to engage with materials and use hands on ‘play’ to explore ideas.

‘The ability to perceive or think differently is more important than the knowledge gained’ David Bohm

1910 Lisa Pettibone

The Star Survey Workshop at Guest Projects created by Niccolò Moronato.

‘We base our knowledge of the universe on science and scientific exactitude, but at the same time, we can’t help but use exotic drawings in the sky to orient our searching and predict future events. So what would happen if we moved to an entirely new context?’

Through a scientific collaboration with Chicago’s Adler Planetarium Niccolò Moronato was able to obtain the first photographic view of the sky from Trappist-1, a ‘twin’ planet of Earth located 40 light years away and make an attempt to become familiar with the new sky.

In the workshop we were invited to draw upon random patterns taken from the Trappist sky. Our interpretations were then looked at by the group to tell a story from the collective imagination which would become the mythology of this alien constellation.

1910 star survey workshop

Artist Workshops at The Bomb Factory with Kate Fahey and curator Séamus McCormack as part of  ‘Scaffold’

We were invited to bring along an object / text / image, which has been key in the development of a recent work or has been sitting in the studio and is in someway relevant to a project you are working on or your wider artistic practice. We each wrote our thoughts about one of the items brought and then discussed our responses as a group. This led to wider conversations about work methods and outcomes which helped analyse the process of creating to give us shared insights into the creative process. This was followed by a discussion on support structures an artist relies on and a closer look at how an artists time and energy is divided between creativity and practice maintenance such as social media, open calls, galleries and finance.

1910 workshop

The exhibition Scaffold looks at the structures we may encounter in our daily and digital lives and the anxiety we feel when those structures break down. Situations are posed of an overload of information, loss of a wi-fi signal, loss of memory, incomprehensible data, the inability to access information. The fallibility of how information is stored and communicated whether in the mind, on a data stick, a book, in radio waves, remotely via drone and digital signals is considered. The overall effect leaves the viewer on unstable ground looking for that scaffolding to hold onto to, a return to the body and the physically known.

1910 Scaffold

Kate Fahey’s practice explores embodied experiences with contemporary screen-based, techno-scientific images, reimagining bodily presence in the military’s highly mediated representation of warfare online. Adam Gibney’s works highlight the relationship between scientific uncertainties and the anxious state we sometimes occupy. Jonathan Mayhew is interested in moments when edges blur and ideas of ourselves along with the world around us are ruptured.

 

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.

1909 Baetylus 2.jpg

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

1909 Baetylus installed St Augustines Tower

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

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

1909 welding

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

1909 Baetylus meteor shower

rain + meteor = meteor shower

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

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

1909 Baetylus 1

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

1909 Lithomancy reading

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

1909 lithomancy board

The gemstones were assigned properties according to traditional meanings.

1909 assigning stones

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

1909 St Augustine tower stairs

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

1909 Carol Wyss All that remains

Carol Wyss All That Remains 

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

1909 Carol Wyss

1909 Carol Wyss Os

Carol Wyss Os

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

1909 Carol Wyss Osmosis

Carol Wyss Osmosis

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

1909 Anne Krinsky Ephemera Scrolls 2

Anne Krinsky Ephemera Scrolls

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

1909 Anne Krinsky Ephemera Scrolls 1

Anne Krinsky Ephemera Scrolls

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

1909 St Augustines Tower Clock

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

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

1909 time crystals video still

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

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

1909 Time Crystals

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

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

 

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

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

1909 making triangles

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

1909 time crystals video installation detail

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

1909 secret tower

Artlyst review of Reading Stones. by Jude Cowan Montague.

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

 

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

1909 UKHAS 2019 2.JPG

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

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

1909 pocket spacecraft 3

1909 pocket spacecraft 4

He also allowed us to hold the tiny spacecraft.

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

1909 at a distance install

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

1909 Lizard Lighthouse

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

1909 Lizard Lighthouse 21909 LIGHTHOUSE beam

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

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

1909 At a distance 1

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

1909 At a distance 2

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

 

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

1909 Helston museum

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

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

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