Archives for posts with tag: cosmic rays

When cosmic rays smash into the nuclei of gases high up in the atmosphere a variety of secondary particles are created but the only ones typically long-lived enough to make it to the Earth’s surface are muons. Muons are heavy electrons with a lifetime of 2.2 millionth of a second before they decay into an electron and a neutrino. Muons are typically produced around 15 km up in the atmosphere, a distance which takes around 50 millionths of a second to cross at the speed of light. This is over 20 muon lifetimes so they shouldn’t be able to get to Earth’s surface before they decay. However, since they are travelling approximately 98% the speed of light, time in their frame of reference is significantly stretched relative to time we experience on Earth. This means that they can travel much further in a shorter period so many Muons do make it to the surface. Special relativity is mind boggling.

Particles that arrive on Earth can cause computer processor bits to flip from one to zero or zero to one. The larger the computer is and the higher the altitude where it operates the more data corruption can occur. There are procedures to enable high altitude supercomputers like those at Los Alamos National Laboratory, birthplace of the atomic bomb, to detect when a bit is flipped and raise an alarm to force a crash and system reset. The big problem is silent corruption that neither the computer or human notices that could occur in sensitive data such as nuclear weapons stewardship and modelling for national security, space exploration, climate change, disease transmission, new drug trials etc.

This is all research and stills from my video commission Cosmic Chiasmus for Queen’s Hall Digital which will be going live soon.

Further work on sculptural piece 90 light years home joining all the individual tiles to make raster patterns of fragmented data transmissions. Made from a combination of screen print on textile, dye sublimation print and chinagraph pencil.

These are scrambled messages to outer space. This work is based on the raster patterns of the first TV signals when images were transmitted in a series of lines. It is a systematic process of covering an area progressively, one line at a time. It is similar to how one’s gaze travels when one reads lines of text. 

HD 70642 is a star about 90 light years away. It has roughly the same mass and radius as our sun. It has a companion planet that orbits in a circular motion very similar to how the planets orbit in our solar system. Waves like FM radio or television signals can pierce the ionosphere and travel through space at the speed of light. The first radio and TV signals from Earth will be reaching this solar system about now.

The work for my planned cosmic ray detector interactive artwork is still at the sourcing components stage. I am gradually gathering many small packages containing mysterious miniscule parts with worrying warning labels. No mention of the handling precautions in the HOW TO video! Also certain items seem to be difficult to get hold of at the moment with shipping dates set to next spring.

I have sent off for the custom printed circuit boards from China with fingers heavily crossed.

The detector works on the basis that when a charged particle passes through a scintillating material, part of its energy is absorbed and re-emitted as photons. A light sensitive device called a silicon photo-multiplier (SiPM) coupled to the scintillator observes these photons. A single photon can make a measurable signal in the SiPM and can be amplified to shape the signal in such a way that it can measure both how many photons were observed and at what time they arrived using an Arduino Nano. I am hoping to divert that signal to set off a script controlling a layering of on screen images which generatively decay as each cosmic ray pulse is recorded.

In 2019 for the exhibition Reading Stones I created the site specific installation Time Crystals in the ancient St. Augustine’s Tower in Hackney. The nature of time itself was a concept that St Augustine of Hippo grappled with in his philosophical texts sixteen centuries ago and is still perplexing us today; namely, how to equate the subjective experience of time with an objective understanding.

In the news recently is the actual realisation of time crystals, a wholly new phase of matter to add to solids, liquids, gases and plasma that we are familiar with. Solid crystal structures repeat patterns across space whereas time crystal patterns repeat over time. Google researchers in collaboration with physicists at other universities have used Google’s quantum computer to produce this special phase of matter that changes constantly between states, but doesn’t appear to use any energy. All other known phases of matter are in thermal equilibrium meaning their their properties don’t change with time if the temperature is constant and settle into a low energy ambient state. Electronic computers use the binary system of 1s and 0s, on or off to process data. In a quantum computer, quantum bits have more possible states than just on and off adding uncertainty to outcomes. Qubits are unstable, acting differently when they’re under observation but time crystals remain stable while constantly flipping states and may be a huge breakthrough for complex computing and data modelling.

Pleased to announce work has finally been installed through Dais Contemporary at the impressive new Taj St James Court Hotel. Two screen print pieces from the everydaymatters series which are informed by the percentages of visible matter, dark matter and dark energy in the universe, and C-type on aluminium Pairi Daêza based around the refencing by Plato of the dodecahedron as the Aether holding the stars in the heavens. Dissecting landscapes to discover the hidden structures of the universe.

Expanding my etching skills with photopolymer process under the expert eye of J. Yuen Ling Chiu. It’s all in the inking up. Ling is such a great teacher.

Trying more new skills with a Super 8 workshop run by knowledgeable enthusiast Ben Slotover who packed a lot into one day. I really enjoyed trying the different cameras and the dreamlike spattered effects of the final films. Definitely something I want to try again though I think there will be lots to learn to achieve good results. I think it might work well to revisit my paradise works with this medium. The nostalgic ethereal quality appeals for this especially with the expired Kodak film as this needs to be flooded with light to work well.

Enjoyed the super/collider hosted zoom presentation Finding Asteroids with Dr Maggie Lieu research fellow in Machine Learning and Cosmology at the University of Nottingham. As of April 2021, there are over 25,000 near-Earth objects and many of these are a potential risk to life here on Earth, but in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, there is believed to be over 2 million asteroids, some of which can reach 1000km in size! Scientists are actively searching for new, and tracking known asteroids. Often, they won’t know for sure where an asteroid will hit or how big an impact it will make until a few days before the collision. Machine learning is being used to keep a look out for potentially hazardous asteroids heading towards Earth. Interesting to hear how cosmic rays interfere with the data searches for asteroids by mimicking the traces made by asteroids but at such a different scale.

I joined Aphra Shemza for her online digital painting and co-creating workshop. The workshop was great fun, centered around the shemza.digital project which is a collaboration with computer artist Stuart Batchelor. Shemza.digital is based on the work of Aphra’s grandfather, the well-known British/Pakistani painter Anwar Jalal Shemza. It was inspiring and at times shocking to hear the family history and his struggle for recognition against the racism of the institutions he came into contact with as a young art student at the Slade and beyond.


Rewarding visit to Night Shaking with The Ingram Collection at The Lightbox, Woking. A spinetingling collection of objects dredged from the subconscious on a Night Sea Journey accompanied by enlightening and poetic text

“On the ‘Night Sea Journey’, what we think we know is held up to be an illusion. Our minds cannot fully grasp the changes of consciousness that take place during this ordeal. Ego and persona are forced to give way. This difficult inner terrain holds within it a hidden potential to experience a dramatic transformation of consciousness”

Objects and paintings made by Chantal Powell and Dean Melbourne are brought together with chosen artefacts from The Ingram Collection as the artists draw us into the Dark Night of the Soul and the Night Sea Journey narrative.

Chantal talking here on the symbolism of crowns and boats in alchemy and transformation.

We are made of carbon, it is the basic building block in virtually every cell in our body. Most of the carbon in the world is carbon-12 which contains six neutrons and six protons. However about 15 miles above our heads radioactive carbon-14 is formed as neutrons from cosmic rays interact with the atmosphere.

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 tiny travellers may come from distant galaxies or be created by phenomena that we are yet to discover. Our body is continuously permeated at a subatomic scale by these particles fired into our world – an almost tangible contact with outer space.

Carbon-14 has six protons and eight neutrons and has a half-life of 5,730 years. This means that after 5,730 years dead matter which absorbed Carbon-14 when alive will contain half the amount it had when it died and after another 5,730 years that amount will have halved again. 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.

This radioactive carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere is absorbed by plants which are eaten by animals and humans.

Cosmic ray activity gives us carbon dating techniques.

I am working on a video, Cosmic Chiasmus, meaning crossing, which I was hoping would be part of Queens Hall Digital programme but now I am not sure they are going ahead with the commission.

Plant time lapse filming is fascinating to see how plants are so animated just at a different time scale to us. Also I have recently finished reading Richard Powers Overstory, a very powerful sobering read, which celebrates the slow yet socially active time of trees.

At Coniston. We are left to imagine the past majesty of this ancient giant which was lopped so it didn’t drop branches on the cars in the carpark.

Carbon dating is performed by measuring Carbon-14 in organic matter. Radiocarbon decays slowly while an organism is alive but is continually replenished as long as the organism takes in air or food.

When an organism dies no more Carbon-14 is absorbed and that which is present starts to decay at a constant rate.

By measuring the radioactivity of dead organic matter, the current carbon-14 content can be determined and the time of death established.

The oldest matter that can reliably be carbon dated is about 50,000 years old. Currently techniques are being refined as they have often relied on the assumption that Carbon-14 levels in the atmosphere are constant but they are not.

The burning of fossil fuels which have lost all their radiocarbon dilutes the amount of Carbon-14 with carbon dioxide and nuclear explosions add huge amounts of ‘bomb carbon’ to the atmosphere. During planetary magnetic field reversals more solar radiation cosmic rays enter the atmosphere producing more Carbon-14. Also the oceans suck up carbon circulating it for centuries.

There are a number of uncertainties for dating shell.

On the surface of the earth two to three Muons pass through your hand every second, underground this is reduced to about once a month.

I collected a selection of images from the 1930’s including some from family, including my Mum aged 3, which I have tinted blue and had printed on sublimation dye paper for transfer to the tiles making up the raster pattern in the work in progress 90 Light Years Home. FM radio and television signals can pierce the ionosphere and travel through space at the speed of light. The first signals will have travelled about 90 lightyears now to arrive at a solar system very similar to our own. Fragments travelling through space for light years with the potential for alien life to decipher.

While searching for images to use as fragments of our world as it appeared about 90 years ago in old National Geographic magazines I came across some articles about balloon voyages in the 1930’s to the stratosphere to record cosmic ray activity.

Intrepid explorers. These early explorations were innovative but also dangerous. In July 1934 a flight developed tears in the balloon fabric at about 57,000 feet and began to break apart, as it did so the hydrogen in the balloon exploded and the crew had to parachute to safety.

Physicist Victor Hess had already made a series of daring ascents in a balloon to take measurements of radiation in the atmosphere. In 1912 he made an ascent to 17,000 feet during a near-total eclipse of the Sun to determine if the source of the radiation was coming from the Sun and made the discovery that it had to be coming from further out in space.

The stratosphere balloon Explorer II was designed to carry heavy instruments for cosmic ray measurements to a height of 13 miles and more above sea level.

Scientists designed a system of cosmic ray telescopes to record the numbers of cosmic rays coming in from several angles above the horizon. Most of the cosmic rays counted are secondary particles shot out from the atoms of the air by the primary rays entering and colliding from space. During this flight the height at which most secondary cosmic rays are produced was determined and the first records of bursts of energy from atom disruption by cosmic rays was made.

Also, the first track ever made directly in the emulsion of a photographic plate by an alpha-particle cosmic ray with enormous energy of 100,000,000 electron volts was achieved. Two boxes of photographic plates coated with special emulsion were wrapped in light tight paper and attached to the balloon gondola. When the plates were developed there were no visible images but when put under a microscope tracks could be seen where the particles had ploughed through the emulsion.

Early google earth. They also took the highest altitude photographs of the Earth ever made.

To record data they had a series of cameras set to take automatic photographs of the dials on the different apparatus.

Analysing air captured from the stratosphere.

On Earth we are protected from most radioactive particles by the atmosphere and the magnetic field.

It has been clearly demonstrated that birds are able to sense the direction of the Earth’s magnetic field and that they can use this information as part of a compass sense. It may be possible humans retain some residual magnetoreceptor in our eyes that once allowed us to navigate using the Earth’s magnetic field. Current research suggests that some people do indeed perceive magnetic fields, albeit unconsciously.

Work in progress on navigation by magnetic receptors. Working on a soft ground etching of my iris with aquatint. Not sure yet if I will use the plate or the print in the final work which will have iron filings activated across the surface.

First components have arrived from America for my attempt to build my own cosmic ray detector to create an interactive artwork. The plastic block converts the energy of the charged particle passing through to a photon which can be read by a silicon photo-multiplier and the information fed to an Arduino processor. Daunting and exciting.

Visit to Sutton Hoo where the ever increasing accuracy of radio carbon dating has provided astonishing clues to the past history of this intriguing site. Archaeologists can determine the age of objects in decades as opposed to centuries.

Sutton Hoo is the site of two early medieval cemeteries dating from the 6th to 7th centuries near Woodbridge, in Suffolk, England. In 1939 landowner Mrs Edith Pretty asked local archaeologist Basil Brown to investigate the largest of several Anglo-Saxon burial mounds on her property. Inside, he made one of the most spectacular archaeological discoveries of all time.

Past, present and future finds. Ancient trees. Burials of Kings. Amazing sword of beaten twisted wrought iron and steel. Basil Brown’s star charts.

The agency and aura of objects was investigated with the intent to generate new relations between objects and their associations with the world around them in the beautiful group show Can We Ever Know The Meaning Of These Objects curated by Sarah Sparkes and Kevin Quigley at Gallery 46.

Eileen Agar Angel of Anarchy at Whitechapel Gallery exposing the subconscious entwined with the material of nature. Enjoyed the decomposition of space into lines like foliations and contour lines. Which angel would you choose? Anarchy or Mercy?

I joined a zoom presentation from Sophie Williamson on her current project undead matter which dips into the deep time entanglement of geological ancestry. Leaving a mark in the past as a way of communicating with the future and creating a lineage for ourselves. Eras mingle with each other as ancient footprints resurface, ice melts, secreted narratives emerge. The permafrost holds vast amounts of carbon. Whole forests.

Zircon crystal contains radioactive uranium with a half-life of 4.5 billion years, which makes it useful for dating extremely old materials much much older than those containing Carbon-14. These crystals may hold clues to the origin of life. The carbon necessary for life may have arrived here in space dust from outer space via asteroids or comets.

WHAT ON EARTH group show from artists including Victoria Ahrens, Melanie King and Diego Valente using photographic processes with an emphasis on the material environment, tactility and sustainability.

Michael Armitage – Paradise Edict at the Royal Academy. Digital images do not do justice to the glow and vibrancy of these paintings. Can feel the heat pulsating with unsettling shape-shifting undercurrents.

180 The Strand with Ryoji Ikeda’s digital showcase was an intense assault on the senses using light and sound as medium to create immersive experiences. Brightness is the number of photons per second hitting your eye. Pushing the limits of what our senses can tolerate.

Took a trip to the Lake District to visit Brantwood, John Ruskin’s beautiful home to see Carol Wyss The Mind Has Mountains and Crown of Creation installations. Having seen the work that went into the printing of the large etchings at Thames-side Print Studio it was wonderful to be able to see the work finally installed and step inside the mysterious depths of the human skull; a space echoed by the surrounding mountains. The light installation is suspended in the dark chill of the Ice House vault, viewed from the top of rugged steps carved into the rock. Here the fragility of the human skeleton fades and glows accompanied by an evocative soundscape made by Natasha Lohan capturing the echoing chamber and the water that courses through everything.

HD 70642 is a star about 95 light years away. It has roughly the same mass and radius as our sun. It has a companion planet that orbits in a circular motion very similar to how the planets orbit in our solar system. Waves like FM radio or television signals can pierce the ionosphere and travel through space at the speed of light. The first radio and TV signals from Earth will be reaching this solar system about now.

Family photo 1930 Kessingland Beach. It has taken almost the equivalent of my Mother’s lifetime for the early transmissions to reach this potential home from home.

Work in progress.

The work is based on the raster patterns of the first TV signals when images were transmitted in a series of lines. It is a systematic process of covering an area progressively, one line at a time. It is similar to how one’s gaze travels when one reads lines of text. The word raster comes from the Latin rastrum, meaning rake. Patterns of line. The signal is sent in fragments and must be interpreted on arrival to make sense of the message.

Also working on a short video – Cosmic Chiasmus, looking at the journey of cosmic rays from distant galaxies to our planet. Chiasmus comes from Greek meaning crossing, like in the letter X.

Cosmic rays, some travelling from other galaxies, pass through us and our world continuously, creating an almost tangible contact with outer space.

Some super high energy cosmic ray particles that arrive on Earth have 20 million times more energy than particle colliders can generate. They may come from distant galaxies or be created by phenomena that we are yet to discover.

They may come from other dimensions.

First line of defence on Earth against the ionising radiation of high energy cosmic rays is our magnetic field which deflects many charged particles before they reach our atmosphere. Second line of defence against cosmic rays is Earth’s atmosphere. Most high energy particles that make it past the magnetic field collide with atoms in the upper atmosphere and break apart to create a cascade of secondary particles that shower down upon us. In losing some of their energy as they smash apart they are less dangerous.

I have a very short film Big Bang to be featured in the 2021 Birkenhead International Film Festival of films 30 seconds or less.

The scales of the universe are hard to comprehend and this 12 second video is an attempt to relate this unfathomability to the human experience. Each second of the video is comprised of 24 single frame extracts from 24 separate videos of the moment a soap film membrane burst. Too fast for our eyes to see, we cannot register the individual frame or the instant the bubble bursts. This is nothing compared to the speed at which the Big Bang exploded matter across the universe or the magnitude of time that has passed since that event. As scientists use ever more sensitive instruments of measurement we must try and grapple with concepts that our limited senses have no hope of experiencing directly.

According to theoretical physics higher dimensions exist where space acts very like a soap film membrane in trying to minimize surface area. String theory, which attempts to combine quantum mechanics with general relativity potentially allows for many universes each with different physical laws.. It may be possible for our universe to suddenly transform into a universe with completely different properties. If this did happen, it would thankfully be so fast we would be oblivious to the moment of transition.

Out of the studio. Wonderful to be able to visit exhibitions again.

Matthew Barney Redoubt at Hayward Gallery

Incredible, stunningly beautiful and riveting film full of mythology ritual and alchemy that spills over into the gallery.

Igshaan Adams Kicking Dust also at Hayward Gallery

Dust clouds and desire lines. Leaving the dark and snow laden forest in the upper gallery for hazy sandy plains.

A rather lovely lump of creamy smooth marble from Not Vital at Thaddaeus Ropac Gallery.

Robert Rauschenberg Night Shades and Phantoms also at Thaddaeus Ropac Gallery. Slippery surfaces. We are the phantoms.

Rachel Whiteread Internal Objects at Gagosian. A different sort of negative. All in the detail.

Stephen Friedman Gallery at the London House of Modernity Quite splendid.

Jaki Irvine Ack Ro’ installation at Frith Street Gallery Bathing in pink neon song and sounds, gentle breezes and dappled light.

Tuned in to the webinar Art in Flux: The Invisible In collaboration with National Gallery X | Curated by Olive Gingrich

In a time, when there are nearly as many pieces of digital information as there are stars in the universe, contemporary artists explore new forms of making this vast amount of information accessible – be it through visual interpretations or new forms of interactivity. While museums around the globe including The National Gallery revisit their collections through the prism of data, contemporary artists such as Refik Anadol, Marshmallow Laser Feast and the Analema Group develop new processes for audiences to experience invisible phenomena in all new ways.

Ben Judd ‘The Origin‘ beautiful exhibition at Stanley Picker Gallery looking at island communities.

‘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.

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Great excitement at the Gate Darkroom as I was helped to develop and print the 35mm film that had reached over 35km altitude as stowaway in the payload of a high altitude balloon.

1907 35mm at 35km

New to film processing; my first job was to insert arms into a light tight bag and get the film out of the cannister and wind it onto a large spool while not being able to see what I was doing. I learnt about the Digital Truth App and followed instructions in order to develop, stop and fix the negatives, then put them under the darkroom viewer to see the results.

If any record was made of the cosmic ray activity at high altitude I expected it to be just tiny white specks of light where the high energy particle hit the sensitive film emulsion.

At first it looked like there was nothing on the film but on closer inspection there are quite a lot of specks of light.

1907 negative scan 35mm at 35km

Are these faint white dots evidence of cosmic particle activity or just general noise in the large crystals of the photosensitive emulsion?

 

There is a link here to a short video of the preparations, launch and outcome of sending a cloud chamber up in the payload of a high altitude balloon which fed into the work Aóratos.

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Insatiable Mind Exhibition at Salisbury Arts Centre came to a close1905 Insatiable Mind Wonderful technicians ensured Pentacoronae smooth taken down

1907 pentacoronae.jpg

Editing video of semaphore performance filmed on 29th March (the first date the UK was supposed to leave the EU) for At A Distance to be back projected onto a Fresnel lens for the upcoming exhibition in Cornwall and London looking at ways of communication across distance inspired by the heritage or the Cornish coastal area.

1907 semaphore

Playing with ideas for an etching of my iris and using magnetism to explore magnetoreception, something evident in birds and some mammals that we may once have had access to as a way of navigating.

ImageJ=1.46i

Plans are also underway for new work for Reading Stones exhibition at St. Augustine’s Tower, the oldest building in Hackney.

Reading Stones could be considered as 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 for the purposes of magnification. This early optical technology paved the way towards the observation of the furthest reaches of the universe and its minutest components.

1907 reading stones WIP 11907 reading stones WIP 2

Testing some lens options for visitors to use to read tiny hidden texts.

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

1907 beryl structure scale

Looking at the molecular crystal structure of beryl to map out the structure for a video. The word brilliance is probably derived from the ancient Greek word for beryl, berullos.

The tower is defined by a magnificent 16th century clock whose mechanisms still strike the hours and occupy three floors connected by narrow stone spiral stairs.

1907 St. Augustine's clock.jpg

The nature of time itself was a concept that St Augustine of Hippo grappled with in his philosophical texts sixteen centuries ago and is still perplexing us today; namely, how to equate the subjective experience of time with an objective understanding.

The New Materialism Reading Group has meandered to the conclusion of Geoffrey West’s book Scale to discover an open ended question.  Can we avoid the mother of all singularities and the stagnation and collapse of civilisation with another paradigm shift through innovation or deurbanization?

“The time between the ‘Computer Age’ and the ‘Information and Digital Age’ was no more than about thirty years – to be compared with the thousands of years between the Stone, Bronze and Iron ages.

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

1907 stonehenge.jpg

We also looked at an article from the Guardian questioning Donna Haraway on her position relative to a post-truth society.

1907 Donna Haraway

Referring back decades to what seems a golden age of freedom and creativity she was clear that she never advocated truth as just a perspective; that reality is not a question of belief but of worlding, inhabiting and testing if things hold. She stresses the importance of not shying away from ‘strategic essentialism’ which is using the same language as those you wish to engage and make progress with and opening up to what is possible through play and creativity. There are huge problems to address. But don’t be negative.

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I have also been reading Antimatter by Frank Close. Fascinating to read about the dazzling explosive fireball witnessed in a remote Tunguska river valley in 1908, a thousand miles east of Moscow, which left a charred circle of devastation; threw so much dust and smoke into the atmosphere around the globe that in London the midnight sky was lit up by photons scattering off the dense air pollution; but left no crater.

1907 Tunguska event

Antimatter is found on Earth in the form of the positron. These positively charged electron are produced by some radioactive elements. They are used in PET scanners – positron emission topography where the flash of gamma ray produced as the positron immediately bumps into an electron and annihilates is recorded to map out an image.
In the extreme temperatures at the centre of the sun where atoms are unstable, positrons emerge, annihilate into gamma rays and begin a hundred thousand year journey of transformation to the surface of the sun eventually emerging as daylight to nurture life on Earth.

1907 sunlight.jpg

Energy is stored in matter. Whatever antimatter touches it will destroy, releasing more energy more explosively than anything else we know.

The difference between bodily warmth and a chemical explosion is just a question of timescale. If time were compressed and the energy delivered to the body from a meal were given out in a millisecond the results would be explosive!

1907 Lee Krasner 1

Lee Krasner 

Lee Krasner (1908 -1984) led a commission for the War Service in 1933 to design public information window displays. She included photographs from classes she attended as part of her research – the class on explosives she described as ‘an alchemist’s dream’. Showing in Living Colour at the Barbican.

1907 Lee Krasner 2

Lee Krasner Imperative 1976 Future Indicative 1977

Exciting use of projectors and collaged film with much poignant material particularly a shocking ever increasing list of those who have died in search of a better life in Lis Rhodes Dissident Lines at Nottingham Contemporary.

Incredible night at The Royal Albert Hall with Public Service Broadcasting performing Race For Space Late Night Prom.

1907 race for space prom1907 race for space prom 2

It was a unique coming together of technological and geopolitical events that inspired an explosive burst of development for the human race. It also touches deeply on our spiritual side as a species, making us ask bigger questions about the universe and our role within it, as well as drawing attention to the bravery of so many of those involved on both sides.

J. Willgoose, Esq., of Public Service Broadcasting

 

 

Insatiable Mind exhibition opened at Salisbury Arts Centre with space inspired food and a heartfelt speech from visual arts and exhibitions manager Mirka Golden-Hann who writes in the accompanying catalogue;

“I was driven by the overarching urge which is innate to humanity. The urge to break away, the urge to explore, the urge which would force a human to construct a spaceship and the urge of another human to step into it in order to walk on the Moon: the same compulsion behind the collective force to bring down the Berlin Wall and with it the Iron Curtain. It was the power of human curiosity and the dissatisfaction with the familiar that provided the basis for this exhibition.”

1905 Insatiable Mind

The installation of my suspended sculpture Pentacoronae was surprisingly smooth considering the height of the supporting beams.

1905 Insatiable mind install 1

There was a great team to help and although one or two anxious moments when hooks came away from loops it went up very well.

1905 Insatiable mind install 2

This work was made to highlight the importance and need to preserve dark sky areas. As powerful technology opens new areas of the universe to our view, generating imagery we could never see with our naked eyes, we are drawn to experience space via mediated technologies. Our ancestors mapped the stars and drew shapes across the darkness which became familiar anchors for navigation, described mythological characters and foretold fortunes. Through this work the viewer is encouraged to seek darkness, stargaze, wonder, and map their own stories across the sky.

1905 Insatiable mind install 3

I also had two concertina books installed in the gallery cabinet.

Making these books turned out to be quite a fiddly process.

For the book Unbound I used images from my cloud chamber printed on transparencies cut into pentagons. Cosmic Rays know no boundaries as they pass through us all the time. The twelve pentagons form a dodecahedron, the solid described by Plato as ‘the fifth construction, which the god used for embroidering the constellations on the whole heaven.’

1905 unbound final book

In/Out expresses the energy and randomness of quantum fluctuation as particles pop in-and-out of existence in empty space. At this tiny scale the universe is mysterious and unpredictable.

I has thought I would draw the energy fields in white china-graph pencil but it turned out graphite looked much better

The bright spheres are four colour separation screen prints and act as a series of portals to alternative perspectives.

1905 In Out final book

It was great to meet some of the other artists in the show whose work was really interesting and beautiful.

1905 Eunmi Mimi Kim

Eunmi Mimi Kim Me Time video installation which uses her own sensitivity to sensory overload to explore sensory deprivation and isolation.

 

 

Katayoun Dowlatshahi  presented work form her series Orbit looking at the former cold war secret rocket testing site West High Down on the Isle of Wight.

19052 insatiable mind Katayoun Dowlatshahi

Oksana Chepelyk Collider immersive film screening in the theatre. Throwing significant moments in history into the collider to see what future particles get thrown out.

1905 Insatiable mind Oksana Chepelyk

I have been meeting up with students Sena Harayama, Romain Clement De Givry and Medad Newman from Imperial College Space Society.

1905 ICSEDS team

Supervised by senior lecturer in spacecraft engineering Dr Aaron Knoll they are building a cloud chamber to withstand a journey to the edge of the atmosphere in the payload of a high-altitude balloon. The chamber must be able to withstand the low pressure at high altitude which might make it break apart.

1905 cloud chamber

There needs to be a heat pad controlled by an Arduino processor to keep the batteries running to power the tracking device and cameras and maintain a suitable environment in the chamber to allow alcohol vapour to fall and create a cloud.

1905 Arduino

A cloud chamber enables us to see ionising trails made by radioactive and charged particles. Cosmic particles continuously collide violently with the Earth’s atmosphere then break up and shower down upon us.

1905 manufacture of chamber

Keeping the weight of components down is vital. The payload must not be over 2kg.

1905 weighing the chamber

We are hoping to capture cosmic ray activity on video as well as a view of Earth’s atmosphere as it blends from blue into the darkness of space. This footage will become part of the video installation I am creating for Continuum midsummer weekend at Allenheads Contemporary Arts.

1905 enter portal

This new work Aóratos will be installed at Allenheads Blacksmith’s Forge.

Black holes were once thought to be pure science fiction but in recent decades scientists have discovered that these extraordinary objects exist throughout our universe in all shapes and sizes and this year astoundingly have even produced an image of one.

1904 Black hole image

Einstein’s theory of general relativity written in 1915 predicted the existence of black holes and is also consistent with the possibility of gravitational tunnels known as wormholes. It could be that there is a hidden web of planck scale wormholes linking all points in space. Theoretically, threaded through these tiny holes would be filaments of cosmic strings created in the primitive goo of early matter and flung across space when the universe burst into existence.

However, to traverse space by means of a wormhole would require vast amounts of negative energy, not something usually found on Earth yet in the current political climate in no short supply.

Making use of the Blacksmith’s hearth visitors will be invited to burn offerings of negative energy to power a ‘wormhole’.

1905 forge hearth.jpg

Special paper will be provided for people to write, draw or furiously scribble their own symbols of negative energy. These offerings will be burnt in the forge hearth releasing any pent-up negative energy to power the wormhole portal above.

I have been experimenting with chemicals to make the paper.

Really pleased with the results.

1905 chemical burn

1905 magic fire chemicals
It’s fine. I am sealing the chemicals inside two sheets of paper so no skin contact for visitors.

1905 paper burn.jpg

In my search to discover how to make coloured fire I did make a visit to Davenports magic shop in a very unprepossessing but not uninhabited pedestrian subway. A dismal setting for a dismal shop where I got no help at all. Felt an absolute muggle.

1905 davenports magic shop

The risks and obstacles of entering a wormhole include creating enough negative energy to open the wormhole mouth wide enough to weaken the gravitational tidal forces which would rip travellers apart; keeping it from collapsing so travellers are not indefinitely trapped inside; exceeding the speed of light and avoiding incineration from deadly high radiation.

On Earth we are protected from radioactive particles by the atmosphere and the magnetic field.

1905 magnetic field dark.jpg

Aóratos translates as ‘unseen’. The videos in the installation will look at hidden landscapes and usually unseen perspectives. For research I have been exploring rabbit holes, bee holes, mice holes and abandoned tunnels with my endoscope camera.
1905 ON LOCATION

A fascinating dark world of root webs and filaments interconnecting tunnels.

 

1905 turbulence.jpg

The reading group is persevering with Geoffrey West’s Scale despite the woolly editing and rambling digressions it does hold some interesting facts. I liked the section about turbulence. Fluid motion is chaotic and objects moving through water or air are subject to very different outcomes at different scales. Froude introduced a scaling methodology used in industry that has become increasingly sophisticated. Lord Raleigh emphasized the primary role of the ‘dimensionless’ number in scaling. This is a pure number such as pi which does not change depending on which unit of measurement is used, the ratio of a circumference of a circle to its diameter is always the same. “Pi embodies the universal quality of ‘circleness'”

1905 Gaia Luke Jerram

Visited the impressive sphere Gaia by Luke Jerram in Salisbury Cathedral as part of Salisbury International Arts Festival. Stunning architecture.

1905 salisbury cathedral1905 salisbury cathedral 1

Extraordinary that this majestic building piercing the sky has the most shallow of foundations and unless they keep a regular check on the water level through a little door in the floor the weight of the spire would not only bend the supporting columns but might tumble down.

I was excited to find a dodecahedron at the pinnacle amongst platonic solids topping an elaborate tomb.

1905 dodecahedron

Also the oldest working clock was fascinating to see

1905 oldest working clock

“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

Sensory overload on the Lizard Point Artist Residency hosted by Mayes Creative and Lumen London. Serpentine rocks, wide horizons, sparkling sea, dark starry skies swept by the dazzling beam of Lizard Lighthouse.

1903 lighthouse beam

We are here to research the communication heritage of this dramatic coastline once plagued by shipwrecks and pirates.

1903 lizard lighthoouse

Rachel Holder from the National Trust guided us along the cliff path and told stories of the treacherous seas and lives lost on the hidden rocks. We heard about the history of Lizard Lighthouse and other methods of communication across distances.

1903 lighthouse lens 21903 semaphore station1903 triangulation point1903 radio station

We visited Marconi’s radio station hut which was full of wonderful scientific equipment like spark transmitters and Morse code machines. In the early 1890s, Marconi began working on the transmission of telegraph messages without connecting wires. An early experiment was a storm alarm made up of a battery, a coherer (an early form of radio detector consisting of a glass tube loosely filled with metal filings whose bulk electrical resistance decreased in the presence of radio waves), and an electric bell, which went off when it picked up the radio waves generated by lightning.

1903 marconi chart

The message ‘WE ARE ONE’ was filmed on 29th March {non} Brexit Day signing with entanglement semaphore flags across the ocean

1903 semaphore 11903 semaphore 31903 semaphore 41903 semaphore 2

The plan is to make a film exploring communication across distances, relating it to entanglement theory where two paired electrons mirror each other. This will then be back projected onto a frosted Fresnel lens as used by lighthouses.

1903 fresnel lens 3

Joanna Mayes gave us a warm welcome to Cornwall on arrival as we witnessed the molten sun colour the whole sky before dropping out of sight.

1903 sunset

Sitting in the receding warm glow of the sunset we listened to the electromagnetic musical collaboration between sound artist Justin Wiggan and some house plants.

1903 plant biometric sounds

The meteor viewing pod created by artists Andrew Bird and Christina Romero-Cross was installed in the YHA grounds where a series of Deep Time films commissioned by Mayes Creative were screened with the sequence to be controlled by a cosmic ray detector.

1903 meteor pod

Two Geiger counters with lead between them identify those particles coming from outer space.

1903 cosmic ray detector

Astroarchaeologist Carolyn Kennett led us along a section of the Southwest Coast Path from Ruan Minor to Cadgwith via Poltesco Old Serpentine Works.

1903 Kuggar bay

Carleon Cove is full of Kennack gneiss, giant pebbles of pale pink granite and dark grey basalt banded together during enormous geological upheavals as the Lizard was thrust northwards and the melted rocks were fused together.

1903 pink geology

Constant swirling sea sculpting

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organic micro rock constellations

1903 beach barnacles

The Sky Disc of Nebra is a Bronze-age astronomical disc possibly used to determine the seasons for sowing and harvesting in the Halle area of Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. It is the oldest depiction of the cosmos yet known from anywhere in the world. It was discovered in 1999 by metal detectorists working illegally who sold it onto the black market where  it was later recovered in a police sting operation. Analysis shows the gold and tin used in the disk were from the Carnon Valley in Cornwall. Evidence of ancient links between communities.

Digital StillCamera

Workshops during the residency included looking at found matter under the microscope

1903 microscope silver foil
A Chemigram workshop which involves painting various resist materials such as toothpaste, suncream and honey onto photographic paper before exposing to sunlight, fixing and developing.


Astrophotography; learning the camera settings to use to capture the extraordinarily starry night sky we were fortunate to experience. This shot was using bulb mode, focus infinity, 2.8 aperture, 3200 ISO, 30 sec exposure.

1903 stargazing

We did have to try and escape the sweeping beam of the Lizard Lighthouse but for some shots the added exposure gave some interesting results.

1903 astrophotography

On the trip down to join the art and science Lizard Point artist residency we found ourselves serendipitously having a delicious afternoon tea at The Cornubian Arts & Science Trust (CAST)

The original Science and Art School was built in 1897 by Cornish philanthropist John Passmore Edwards at the request of local people.

1903 Helston Art and Science school.jpg

The disperse papers left over from making the entanglement semaphore flags have good wormhole portal potential

1903 portal

Two great resources discovered:

Design Me print studio where I have tracked down a large format heat press available for open access.

Fat Llama a rental resource for practically anything and everything.

I rented an EF 100 f2.8 USM macro lens and set up a mini green screen in the studio. Apparently black tourmaline is good at cleansing negative energy so I sourced a pendant to use to create a hypnotic state of relaxation encouraging the release of negative energy to power the transformation wormhole. Have changed the chain to leather thong.

1903 black tourmaline

Not sure what the backdrop will be yet. Also tested the movement of iron filings against the green screen.

1903 iron filings green screen

I made a frozen ice disk and tested back projecting particle trails onto it. This was tricky to film as rather slippy but I can see this could be a good effect showing the detail in the ice.

1903 projections on ice

Cosmic rays stain icey asteroids red.

1903 ice stain

Tested filming the cloud chamber with the macro lens and although the depth of field maybe better because it’s such a small area in the viewfinder I didn’t capture many trails.

1903 particle trail 5

I’m not sure the result was better.

1903 particle trail 3

Got some good air turbulence though

1903 turbulence

The plan here was to have dry ice vapour coming through the perforations

1903 perforations

I made a site visit in heavy rain to Salisbury Arts Centre

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I will be installing Pentacoronae hanging sculpture for the Insatiable Mind exhibition as part of Salisbury International Festival.

1809 Pentacoronae

It was great to meet everyone and hear about their ambitions for the space. Being an old Church the ceilings are very high. It’s going to be a challenge but they do have their own cherrypicker.

1903 Salisbury Arts Centre

In preparation for the launch of the high altitude balloon with a cloud chamber in the payload students from Imperial College Space Society experimented with the mini DIY Cloud Chamber kits I provided.

1903 testing mini chamber 2

They are testing outcomes to design a prototype chamber that can withstand low pressure at high altitude, also they must ensure the base plate is kept extremely cold to create the supersaturated environment but any batteries onboard are kept warm enough to function and that turbulence doesn’t cause a whirlpool effect in the cloud.

1903 testing mini chamber 1

It looks like we might be launching from an airfield near Oxford.

1903 balloon path.png

The New Materialisms Reading Group I attend are currently reading Scale. Geoffrey West’s research centres on a quest to find unifying principles and patterns connecting everything, from cells and ecosystems to cities, social networks and businesses. Full of interesting facts about heartbeats and energy, lifespans and growth cycles.

1903 tree rings

It has been alarming to read about the terrifying unpredictable phenomenon of exponential growth. At the beginning growth is slow, but this soon accelerates to such a rate that it becomes out of control, unstoppable and then collapses under its own weight.

I am also still trying to understand entropy as explained by Carlo Rovelli in The Order of Time. So, the universe began with low entropy and it has been increasing ever since, the past leaves traces in the present caused by the irreversible process of energy degrading into heat from which our brains create extensive maps of past events and this is what gives us the sensation of time passing.

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Out of Studio

A packed gallery for Ray Richardson‘s entertaining talk and screening of award winning Our Side of the Water at Thames-side Studios shows how much he is held in our mutual esteem.

1903 Ray Richardson.jpg

Fun night with Andy Holden at The Cinema Museum.

1903 Andy Holden Cinema Museum

Laws of Motion in a Cartoon Landscape uses live green screen filming allowing the narrator to interact with clips from hundreds of cartoons. The film proposes the world is best understood as a cartoon through examining the formation of ‘laws’ within cartoons as a way of making sense of the world we inhabit, a space where anything could potentially happen.

1903 Andy Holden Cinema Museum 1

I joined some students from Imperial College Space Society and other High Altitude Balloon enthusiasts at Wormwood Scrubs for the launch of a couple of Pico balloons that they are testing tracking with the aim of making a complete circuit of Earth.

1903 pico launch 1

Anxious moments as the balloon barely gains height but soon it has vanished from sight

1903 pico launch

The next couple of hours are spent listening in for the tracker system transmissions which can drop in and out of range; travelling at something like 60metres/second both balloons made it to Belgium before the transmissions ceased.

1903 pico launch 2

Work resulting from an unexpected encounter that demands attention in By The Way at Lewisham Art House had some ephemeral photopolymer etchings of found seashore plastic by Sam Hodge.

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I also liked this work by Mark Sowden who photographed found frames and then mounts the resulting image in the frame.

1903 Mark Sowden.jpg

Great show Undertow at Sluice HQ. When prevailing discourses tip towards hyperbole, generalisations or simplification, there is a need to swim against the current, to carve out a space that allows for ambiguity, correspondence and a quieter voice. In the employment of few words, a scale of action or use of minimal materials, understatement can be both a way of confronting moments of crisis, or of evading them.

Alex Simpson Scratching the surface    /    Lauren Ilsley Fluvial Additions

 

Time Tries All Things video installation at the Institute of Physics by Grace Weir explored time and our human relationship with it.

1903 Grace Weir Time Tries All Things

Two narrators consider time from different perspectives against the backdrop of a stone carver replicating a plaque, repeating time.

DAVID:
I think when people talk about time they often confuse two sorts of thing.
There is time itself and there is what’s called the arrow of time, which is
direction, and its perceived nature as a human being.

FAY:
Being or becoming is an ancient question.
Ever since we have records of people thinking about the world, in ancient
Greek philosophy for example, there have been people on both sides of
this debate.

The complete audio transcript is available here.

There is a very impressive diffusion Cloud Chamber in the foyer at The Institute of Physics. Lots of activity but it was hard to see the particle trails clearly through all the reflections. 1903 Diffusion cloud chamber

They also have a cosmic ray detector on the roof which has scintillator plates containing molecules of a substance which emit a tiny flash of light when they are hit by a high-energy particle.

1903 scintillating sea.JPG

 

Work in progress experimenting with ideas for some new video pieces that will develop from my collaboration with the high altitude balloon student society at Imperial College London and participation in the Continuum residency at Allenheads Contemporary Arts.

We will be attempting to launch a cloud chamber into space and film the outcome. 1803 filming cloud chamber (1)

 

It will be interesting to see how much cosmic ray activity we can record at high altitude. This is where protons emitted from the sun or distant galaxies crash into the Earth’s atmosphere and break apart.

1901 Cosmic ray decay.jpg

There may be other methods of recording we can try such as stacked layers of very thin plastic sheet which are ionised as the particle passes through and can later be etched to show the resulting track.

On Earth we are also protected from cosmic rays (which are high energy radiation) by the Earth’s magnetic field which is caused by the spinning molten iron core setting up convection currents in a geodynamo process.

1901 gyroscope

I am exploring magnetism and its powers. To be drawn to some powerful source. To fall into a black hole. I am trying ideas of a portal that offers transformation. This is also about returning to Allenheads, being drawn back. A black hole transforms matter, a wormhole deals with exotic matter.

 

Theoretically, to pass through a wormhole you need negative energy.

‘Negative energy is a concept used in physics to explain the nature of certain fields, including the gravitational field and various quantum field effects. In more speculative theories, negative energy is involved in wormholes which may allow for time travel and warp drives for faster-than-light space travel.’

So a portal that transports or transforms you (matter) could channel any ‘negative energy’ present and this could be dissipated by using black tourmaline which is supposed to clear negative energy. This could be the fuel to ignite the process.

I have a obtained a small two way mirror to test for the portal interface so the viewer can witness their own transformation.

1901 two way mirror

This could involve the vital fluids of Animal Magnetism or suggestion therapy of Mesmerism/ Hypnotism.

1901 iron filing tests (3)

 

Magnetoreception is the detection of a magnetic field by an organism. We have a protein (a crytochrome) in the human eye which could serve this function of navigation.

1604 vision

How can we be equipped for physical or subconscious navigation/transformation?

I will be looking at tracking the electromagnetic field, sending messages and reading codes for new work to be made responding to this years incredible communications double anniversary, for Lizard Lighthouse (400 years) and Goonhilly Earth Station (50 years: transmission of the first lunar landings). I am excited to have been offered a place on the Lizard Point Residency run in partnership with Mayes Creative, Lumen London and the National Trust.  We will be visiting wireless and semaphore stations along the Lizard coastal path, considering the Scilly Isles 30 miles out to sea and the important prehistoric menhirs offering ‘beacons’ for travel & procession across the land.

I have a lovely frosted glass Fresnel lens (as used in lighthouses) to experiment with.

1901 fresnel lens

 

With the prospect of using more technology in my work I spent an intense weekend with Aphra Shemza and Jamie Howard at Ugly Duck learning a quick guide to interactive light art. Had a chance to program an Arduino, solder it to a PCB and connect up individually programmable LED’s to respond to sound with variable colour and brightness. Also first time soldering which was very satisfying.

Not sure how I will cope when I start my own project but at least I know what an Arduino looks like now and some of its possibilities. Also it’s good to know Aphra and Jamie do offer support consultation.

I followed this up joining a Flux event hosted by Maria Almena, Oliver Gingrich and Aphra Shemza at The Library where a diverse mix of artists, musicians and various tech geeks from the creative media arts community come together monthly to network and share crits.  Was fun and welcoming.

Out of the Studio..

The Alicja Kwade installation in Space Shifters at Hayward Gallery was clever

and of course I liked Helen Pashgian’s resin spheres

I do like shiny things and reflective surfaces but this show was overload and works became just that – light entertainment.

Pierre Huyghe Uumwelt at The Serpentine Gallery was not so light and felt a bit like being stranded under medication in some apocalyptic lost outpost trying to make sense of incoherent images morphing into something almost but not quite recognisable.

1901 pierre huyghe (2)

The walls were sanded to reveal layers like the dissections of the brain that was scanned to produce the data used to try and build an image from the electrical impulses.

19010 pierre huyghe (3)

The dust filled the air, purposefully bred flies swarmed in vain to escape leaving little corpses on the floor.

1901 pierre huyghe (1)

Francis Upritchard Wetwang Slack at the Barbican Curve. Gorgeous glazes and uncanny mystics.

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Left unsure if this was archaeology or evolution.

Attended the talks accompanying In the Dark curated by Genetic Moo, a London Group event at The Cello Factory.

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Talks by Nick Lambert and Sean Clark from the Computer Arts Society who are celebrating their 50th year anniversary this year, and Jack Addis from the Lumen Prize. Artists discussed their practices and Tim Pickup and Nicola Schauerman from Genetic Moo talked about the challenges of working in the dark when overspill of light from other peoples work reduces the impact of all works.

Tim was wishing for a bulb that emits darkness. I remember Cham telling us about the photomultiplier tubes in the dark matter detector at Boulby Underground Laboratory which he said were in effect reverse lightbulbs, in that they absorb photons rather than emit them.

Made use of a free ticket to London Art Fair, Brockett Gallery had managed to shake of the fair vibe in their installation and I was glad to discover the 1974 film Space Is The Place in the Art Projects Screening Room.

1901 art fair john coney 1974

Presumed lost in space Sun Ra returns to do battle, outwit the white NASA scientists and transport the black race to a new planet in outer space.

Also good to see Thom Bridge’s intriguing self portrait of himself and his twin Theo One Ear Both Eyes which was a requirement of their visa application photograph. Shown so you can’t see both portraits at the same time unlike below. Which is Thom?

Thoughtful and prescient video based work looking at natural selection/personal choice from David Blandy and Larry Achiampong in Genetic Automata at Arts Catalyst. What colour skin would you choose? How far back do we reach for our identity? What can I claim as my own? Net migration google map was fascinating to watch.

Where are those phrenology bumps developing on our contemporary skulls?

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Falling Stars/Stelle Cadenti exhibition at The Crypt Gallery was a display of work created in response to last years Lumen Atina Residency where the group experiences local astronomical sights and dark skies.

Of Stars & Chasms at ArtHouse1 showing stellar work from Julie F. Hill bringing the astronomical sublime to a bodily encounter.

1901 Julie F Hill (1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New work pentacoronae installed at Grizedale Project Space for In Search of Darkness exhibition curated by art collective Lumen Studios.

1809 Pentacoronae

“Sky glow” is the yellow umbra leaching into the night sky from light polluting urban areas; obscuring our view of the constellations, shrinking our universe and severing our relationship to the stars.
Our ancestors mapped the stars and the shapes and patterns they drew across the darkness became familiar anchors for navigation; describing mythological characters; aligning celestial cycles with the fortunes of everyday life and revealing harbingers of portentous events. This rich history is being lost to a population bathed in the radiant intensity of artificial illumination.

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Light doesn’t always make things more visible. There are other ways to discover the mysteries of the universe and look beyond what our immediate senses tell us is there. Dark Matter is a significant component of the universe, yet we cannot see it. It doesn’t reflect or emit light and so scientists are finding other ways to detect it. In digital visualisations of Dark Matter, organic patterns emerge that could be the veins under our skin or the spreading branches of trees.

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As ever more powerful telescopes and data gathering equipment open new areas of the universe to our view, generating imagery we could never see with our naked eyes, we are drawn to experience space via mediated technologies. Dark sky areas such as Grizedale Forest are precious locations where we can still stargaze, wonder and map our own stories across the sky.

1809 Grizedale Forest

Following on from the group residency earlier in the year we returned

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with new work responding to the naturally dark skies of the Grizedale area  Maria Luigia Gioffre  – a re-tracing of the astral map of 7 July 2018

1809 Maria Luigia Gioffre credit John Hooper

Maria Luigia Gioffre Genealogy of an Asemantic Night – photo John Hooper

Eunjung Kim the journey of unseen travellers across time, memory, the cosmos

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Julie Hill-‘intimate immensity’ the milky way as bodily encounter

1809 Julie Hill credit John Hooper

Julie F. Hill Dark River photo John Hooper

Anthony Carr– circadian rhythms disrupted

1809 Anthony Carr credit John Hooper

Anthony Carr The Moon, Is The Only Light We’ll See photo John Hooper

Melanie King– ancient light captured

1809 Melanie King credit John Hooper

Melanie King Ancient Light, Grizedale Forest  photo John Hooper

Louise Beer— sounds of the tides slowed; an echo from 420 million years ago

1809 Louise Beer credit John Hooper

Louise Beer Beneath the Moon’s Gaze photo John Hooper

Rebecca Huxley— twilight transitions, a manifesto to darkness

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Rebecca Huxley 18 degrees below the Horizon 

Diego Valente— “Forests aren’t simply collections of trees….”

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Diego Valente A Copy With No Original

and William Arnold – common lepidopteran misadventures in artificial light

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William Arnold Dark Spectacle

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I had the cloud chamber running at the opening event. Photo courtesy of Lumen

1809 Cloud Chamber demo

A cloud chamber gives us a glimpse into the invisible world of particles produced in the radioactive decay of naturally occurring elements and those generated when cosmic rays strike the top of the Earth’s atmosphere. It is a sealed environment containing a supersaturated vapour of pure alcohol sitting over dry ice. Charged particles passing through the chamber cause the vapour to condense resulting in tiny cascading trails. These particles pass though us continuously without our awareness. Witnessing this usually unseen activity can lead us to look beyond what our immediate senses tell us is there and consider the possibility of other intangible phenomena.

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Finale! (another great shot from John Hooper)

1809 dry ice credit John Hooper

At the studio I am moving just across the corridor – mostly so I will have a window but I also gain more space which was great timing to lay out and assemble the suspended sculpture for Grizedale in an empty room.

1809 laying out

1809 assembling

So glad I spent time on careful packing for transporting

1809 preparing for install– getting it up on the scaffolding and hanging was not easy when only one person present has ladder training and therefore allowed at height due to local council health and safety directives.  Thankfully Sean took it in his stride.

1809 install angst

Out of the Studio
Holly Graham Sweet Swollen at Jerwood Project Space. The seductive title is evocative of succulent ripened fruit but also the tenderness of a bruise. This poignant work draws on the history of sugar as a luxury brought to our shores in the 18th century with the taint of colonial violence and the demeaning of those forced to produce treats for European palates. A series of sugar lift etchings depict hands in isolation, the gestures originating from the stylised ‘blackamoor’ figurines that ornament receptacles of the bitter sweet cargo.