Archives for posts with tag: compass

Lode – a way or path, a watercourse, a vein of metallic ore.

A lodestone is a naturally occurring magnet possibly created by a lightning strike. Early compasses were made of lodestone suspended on a cord.

Magnetite is a common mineral that has an attraction to a magnet but is not magnetic in itself.

The image shows magnetite, sold on eBay as a Lodestone though at £2 what did I expect.

Fluid activity hidden deep in the Earth’s interior can be visualised through plotting the magnetic field and its fluctuations.

The geomagnetic field, generated by the Earth’s molten core, varies through time; the magnetic poles migrate, go on excursions or reverse polarity. During these periods of flux the strength of the magnetic field changes and this phenomenon is recorded in archaeological artifacts, volcanic rocks, and sediments. The mineral deposits of stalactites store a paleomagnetic history of declination (the deviation of magnetic from geographic north).

Thinking about how magnetic pole reversals are stored in geology. I am modelling some paper clay rocks for future filming visualising the magnetic field using iron filings.

Early navigators using the compass around the 15th century became aware that geomagnetic north would roam position. In 1701 the first map charting the magnetic field declination was produced by British astronomer Edmund Halley.

In the 19th century the study of geomagnetism became one of many passions for explorer polymath Alexander von Humboldt who studied

“what keeps the innermost of the world together, how all is woven together”

and was the first to connect climate with interactions between atmosphere, oceans, land and plant ecology. From meticulous observations he noticed the Earth’s magnetic field intensity increases from the equator to the pole, and that it was also influenced by auroras and solar activity causing magnetic storms.

Magnetic observatories to monitor the Earth’s magnetic field were set up around the globe including one at Greenwich which had to relocate twice due to infrastructure interference (electric railways) and is now based in Devon with a permanent azimuth mark on a concrete obelisk viewed from the north window of the Absolute Hut. I wonder if it is possible to visit.

Magnetotactic bacteria align themselves with the Earth’s magnetic field to navigate using nanoparticles of magnetite crystals covered in biological material called magnetosomes. Each nanoparticle is about 100,000 times smaller than a grain of rice. They are mostly found in water and sediment with little or no oxygen. It has been found that magnetosomes can be biodegraded (dissolved) in human stem cells losing magnetism at first but then reforming into human cells with magnetic sensitive qualities.

There is a daily variation in the magnetosphere caused by sunlight hitting the ionosphere, a layer of the atmosphere about 1000km up. The electrical conductivity of this layer is affected by the solar wind which pressures and squashes the field on the sunlit side while creating a magnetotail pluming from the dark side of the Earth.

Capturing garden activity through the solar cycle with a spycam.

The rotation of the Earth around its axis results in a molecular clock evolved by organisms in alignment with the solar cycle. The Earth’s magnetic field can influence animals’ circadian clocks, through the photoreceptor cryptochrome, which is activated by blue light.

I have recently acquired a drone and have been for a couple of practice flights in Richmond Park’s designated area taking along a few pentagon mirrors. Excited by the possibilities.

Up at 5am to see the tiny points of light that are Venus and Jupiter approaching their conjunction which they performed the following morning hidden by clouds

Research trip to RSPB Snettisham in North Norfolk to see the Whirling Wader Spectacle. The high spring tides push the birds from their feeding grounds on the mudflats of The Wash onto the lagoons of the reserve. The spectacle occurs when the tide is super high during daylight hours in early spring or late autumn when the birds are migrating to and from this site. It is surprising how fast the tide comes in. On arrival in the early evening the sea is a distant strip of light.

Suddenly the gullies are filling and the first murmurations of knots are forming low over the incoming water. The speed of the birds is extraordinary. I was totally ill equipped to capture the spectacle on video.

Fascinating research discussed in the webinar Scientific American live: Bird Migration and Song featuring Professor of Chemistry University of Oxford, Peter Hore, an expert on magnetoreception.

Radicals are molecules that contain an odd number of electrons and are therefore unstable. For most molecules the electrons are paired which cancels out the magnetic force. Birds use three different compasses to navigate across the globe; the sun, the stars and the magnetic field. The Artic tern makes the longest migratory journey, a staggering 25,000 miles.

The theory that birds may use the Earth’s magnetic field to navigate began in the middle of the 19th century, but experiments in Germany with European Robins in the 1960s were the first to prove the connection. The Earth’s magnetic field is extremely weak so the mechanism that can detect this weak force must be very sensitive. Because free radicals are very unstable it doesn’t take much energy to have big effects. The particular cryptochrome molecule used is found in the retina of the eye with the photoreceptor cells. Blue light shined onto Cryptochrome 4 produces radical pairs which are sensitive to the magnetic field. It is excited by blue light but does not respond to red light. The molecules work like a pendant compass, distinguishing the direction of the magnetic field towards pole or equator. This feature arises from the spin direction of the free radical pairs. Both radicals may spin in the same direction or one may spin one way and the other the opposite. There is a lot of processing in the eye before a signal is sent to the brain to act upon.

It is possible birds form a visual perception of the magnetic field. The cone cells in the eye are used by day but may be taken over at night for navigation as this is when birds migrate. Light pollution and electromagnetic noise pollution such as AM radio masts can cause disorientation.

I still have questions about how the birds know where to head for. They may have a map but they still need a destination.

Stunning North Norfolk coastline. It’s so flat here that cliffs are unexpected. Hunstanton Beach was once under a tropical sea 108 million years ago when sea levels were 200m higher. Somewhere in these strata evidence of magnetic pole reversals will be stored.

So much to explore at the National Physical Laboratory Open Day but my favourite room was Magnetic Materials and Sensors. They don’t allow any photography so I can’t share some of the amazing experiments I saw but I have been able to recreate my favourite as it was also the simplest; a magnet dropped into a copper pipe creates an electric current as it falls which gently slows its progress through the tube. So cool. I will be filming this.

Experiments with lenses. It’s often the way that having spent time on a proposal that doesn’t get accepted those ideas do not get wasted but ultimately feed into new work.

Testing ‘The Forms’ as a floor piece.

The immutable truths Plato discovered in geometry belong to the realm of abstract thought and ideals he called The Forms. Twelve pentagons form a dodecahedron which Plato defined as ‘a fifth construction, which the god used for embroidering the constellations on the whole heaven.’ Today it is dark matter that science believes holds the stars in the heavens. In visualisations of dark matter created from cosmological data we see familiar organic patterns emerge; the fronds of dark matter spanning between galaxies could be the spreading branches of trees or the veins under our skin.

Thanks to KIPAC Stanford University for the data visualisations.

Enjoyed a one day 3D Geometry class with Leila Dear at the Princes School of Traditional Arts. I gained so much from the RCA exchange week here that fed into my work for the past several years that I thought a refresher would be useful – and that was before I knew we would be making geometric bubbles. Irresistible.

Out of Studio

Reflections at Workplace Gallery

Sculpture by women artists Nicola Ellis, Hsi-Nong Huang, Patricia Ayres and Olivia Bax.

All works offer up a satisfying conjunction of materiality and form but especially loving Nicola’s ‘Quite a Structure’ which is like a slice of the Earth’s molten core.

HEAVEN NEITHER BURNING FARTHER at The Crypt, St. John on Bethnal Green

Erika Blumenfeld writes “The material comprising our bodies shares cosmic origins with the material comprising the planets, asteroids and comets in our solar system. Scientifically, this material, having derived from distant stars across time, threads back to the primordial material that emerged moments after our universe burst into being. Culturally, our star gazing has filled us with wonder across all civilizations, sparking art and architecture, philosophy and science, mythology, folklore as well as navigation and place-making”.

Visual journeys have been created using the archive, modern science, performative poetry, scanned glacier-ice sent by image transmission, laser-based mapping originally sourced from the Rosetta space mission, the use of historic adaptations, the layering of earthly minerals, and a hunt for asteroid fragments. Held in a crypt under-ground the exhibition takes a poignant look at the myth and science that surround comets, which in theory brought life to Earth but could also end it.

Artists: Julie F Hill, Leah Beeferman, Barry Stone, Pedro Torres, Fryd Frydendahl, Ports Bishop, Claudio Pogo & Magdalena Wysocka Curated by Lucy Helton

Fascinating and beautiful work in this subterranean gateway to the cosmos which rewards following up each artist’s research.

POST TOTEM at OHSH Projects pop up on Oxford Street, curated by Adam Dix and Dale Adcock.
I found the concept of this exhibition very appealing. Reaching back to what connects us. Some innate sense of the sacred.

‘Imagine an artist holding the metaphorical hand of an artist from the previous generation and that artist, doing the same, and so on, back through time, back 30 to 40 thousand years into the unimaginably distant past, when we made the great cave paintings of Lascaux and Maros-Pangkep karst. This imaginative exercise creates an image of an unbroken woven human connection, stretching back through time uniting, individuals into a group, linked by imagination, action and materials.’

Artists showing: Dale Adcock, Simon Burton, Adam Dix, Tim Ellis, Lisa Ivory, Simon Burton, Rachel Howard, Henry Hussey, Dean Melbourne, Yelena Popova, Chantal Powell, Joanna Rajkowska, Alexis Soul Gray, Suzanne Treister.

Seth Price – Art Is Not Human at Sadie Coles

An interesting entanglement of hand and digital process. Raw paintings are photographed and imported to a 3D digital space of geometric shapes, tubes and directional lighting. The effects are then exported and printed onto the original painting.

Melanie Manchot Alpine Diskomiks at Parafin.

Questioning the mediation of the mountain experience. A mountain skyline created from album covers and soundscape from the combined mix of recorded content. Imagine a steady build of music to accompany the climb to a dramatic mountain peak and the overwhelming crescendo as you reach that majestic summit of the sublime. Downstairs choreographed snowploughs score grooves in looping folkdance sequence.

This painting by Luchita Hurtado at Hauser and Wirth made me think of the practical demonstration by Brian Cox showing that in a vacuum a feather and a rock (bowling ball) would fall at the same speed.

 “The reason the bowling ball and the feather fall together is because they’re not falling. They are standing still. There is no force acting on them at all.”

“(Einstein) reasoned that if you couldn’t see the background, there would be no way of knowing that the ball and the feathers were accelerating toward the Earth.”

Larry Bell at Hauser and Wirth

‘Although we tend to think of glass as a window, it is a solid liquid that has at once three distinctive qualities: it reflects light, it absorbs light, and it transmits light all at the same time.’ Larry Bell

Everything is Made of Light at Bermondsey Project Space. The artists refer to Jacques Rancière, in his essay, Are Some Things Unrepresentable?, who scrutinizes the challenges faced by images in depicting the world around us.

Mark Kasumovic tackles the problem of trying to represent the invisible through a juxtaposition of images of spaces of discovery and text listing scientific non sequiturs. Mary O’Neill presents us with a world of fragments from which personal narratives must be assembled. Isabella Streffen’s work explores perception and the spaces between digital and emotional communication. Matthew Pell stretches time through capturing light in otherwise transient momentary events.

I felt very in tune with intent of the work here. Particularly Mark Kasumovic’s texts that felt like a snapshot of a research artist’s notebook. All those tantalising lines of enquiry. I liked the premise from Mary O’Neill of the introduction of creatures from the mundanity of an overlooked life, that when situated in a new context, conceive paradise.

Marcus Cope Silver Linings at Peer

Fabulous potent paintings of those vivid memories that are seared into the synapses from times of heightened emotions.

Beautiful and terrible.

Alice Bucknell Swamp City at Hoxton 253 Project Space

Like a dollop of dream topping on a large turd the work offers up a speculative future of luxury ecotourism as investment opportunity in the face of a climate crisis that feels almost inevitable.

Charlotte Johannesson Circuit at Hollybush Gardens.

“Nature speaks in symbols and signs.”

Evolution from weave to code and back again. Beautiful works full of metaphor and shared history.

Reading – Braiding Sweetgrass Robin Wall Kimmerer; reciprocity – don’t take more than you need and always give something back.

Mercurius Patrick Harpur; no easy route to the conjunction of soul, spirit and matter.

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.