Archives for posts with tag: cosmos

‘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

My visit to the Venice Biennale was marked by my receiving news that I had a place at the Royal College of Art for the Autumn.  A great start to a very inspiring few days.

It does feel a bit like I am going to be launched into space. Exciting and an amazing opportunity but also not knowing what to expect with anxieties that I will be lost or unable to cope.

Bedwyr Williams ‘The Starry Messenger’ and Sarah Sze’s Triple Point both explore feelings of place within the universe. Very apt for my frame of mind.

Wales in Venice

Wales in Venice

‘The Starry Messenger’ explores the relationships between stargazing and the individual, the cosmos, and the role of the amateur in a professional world.

Inside the former church and convent in a darkened room there is a small observatory with a door ajar through which we can see the starry cosmos. There is the sound of a man weeping, just like Kevin does when he thinks about the vastness of space and his own insignificance. Moving through the installation you walk under glass with household objects placed on its surface above your head which I took as a possible reference to Leonardo Da Vinci’s drawing ‘A cloudburst of material possessions’. Maybe it is space debris.

Bedwyr Williams The Starry Messenger

Bedwyr Williams The Starry Messenger

There is a film with a Mighty Boosh style protagonist who represents a character trapped within a mosaic mural.

Bedwyr Williams The Starry Messenger

Bedwyr Williams The Starry Messenger

From the geological formation of stone out of oozing mud through its journey and subsequent use in a mural to the demolition of the building and its return to the earth. From looking out at the stars through a telescope to ‘staring into space’ the outer and inner worlds collide in a wonderfully amusing narrative encompassing the life the universe and everything dialogue.

Bedwyr Williams The Starry Messenger

Bedwyr Williams The Starry Messenger

Sarah Sze explores the desire to locate our place within a disorienting world.

Sarah Sze Triple Ponit

Sarah Sze Triple Point

Her fragile sculptures echo the balance and chaos of the world around us.

Sarah Sze Triple Point

Sarah Sze Triple Point

They appear to spin or be in the process of expansion, beautifully mysterious like the working of the atom or the universe they are full of wonder.

Sarah Sze Triple Point

Sarah Sze Triple Point

Playing with pattern, order and taxonomy she creates a laboratory busy in its own pursuits which makes us feel we are close to understanding something great.

Sarah Sze Triple Point

Sarah Sze Triple Point

I was excited to see she had used moss a lot throughout this installation, even turning its image into wallpaper.

Sarah Sze Triple Point

Sarah Sze Triple Point

Triple Point refers to the phase when gas, liquid and solid form of a substance are all in equilibrium, her use of natural forms keep our ideas grounded in our surroundings while drawing us into the mysteries of evolution.

The extraordinary collection of stones once owned by artist Roger Caillois were on display in the Central Pavillion.

Roger Caillois Stones

Roger Caillois Stones

Caillois believed that nature should be examined as something other than as the utilitarian force that Darwin purported and that aesthetics and the need for decoration should be considered integral to our understanding of the natural world.

Roger Caillois Stones

Roger Caillois Stones

He considered the beautiful patterns within ancient natural forms were a sort of cryptic ‘universal syntax’, a unifying aesthetic language.

Roger Caillois Stones

Roger Caillois Stones

He wanted to understand the mysteries of the subjective experience through its relationship to factual reality.

I find it fascinating trying to understand the aesthetic experience.

Gerhard Richter’s tapestries at Gagosian, Davies Street emanate pure aesthetic pleasure, colours and form coalesce erupt and fade.

These works are based on Abstract Painting (724-4) (1990). The visual effect of the tapestries is a Rorschach-like multiplying of the forms and colours of the original canvas.

Gerhard Richter

Gerhard Richter

Like entering a hypnotic state, like staring into space both literally and metaphorically you are transported to a place where it feels familiar and strange at the same time.

Gerhard Richter

Gerhard Richter

Venice was a perfect location to think about mysteries, the sacred and the wonders of the world.

1307 Monastry