Archives for posts with tag: Dark Matter

Honoured to have The Forms installed in the magnificent Wells Cathedral as part of Wells Art Contemporary

The immutable truths Plato discovered in geometry belong to the realm of abstract thought and ideals he called The Forms. Twelve pentagons form a dodecahedron which Plato defined as ‘a fifth construction, which the god used for embroidering the constellations on the whole heaven.’

Today it is dark matter that science believes holds the stars in the heavens. In visualisations of dark matter created from cosmological data provided to me by KIPAC Stanford University, we see familiar organic patterns emerge; the fronds of dark matter spanning between galaxies could be the spreading branches of trees or the veins under our skin.

In Plato’s the allegory of the cave, those in the cave mistake shadows thrown by the fire onto the cave wall as reality; in a similar way we are guessing what dark matter is from the shadows we see, such as gravitational lensing and galaxy rotation curves.

Thrilled with the location of my work in the Lady Chapel, interacting with the patterns and geometry of the Minton tiled floor.

Working on Breath of Stars – making a data base of video clips which will be accessed and play for 12 seconds every time a cosmic ray event is recorded by the detectors. The star bursts are made from cloud chamber footage. The size of the star burst will relate to the amplitude of the cosmic ray that hits the scintillator plastic. More energy = bigger starburst.

Testing testing. Running the cosmic ray detectors at my studio to see if I get similar results to at home and yes, seems fairly consistent. Maybe slightly more hits. Thinner roof!

Exciting developments in the acid room etching the directional magnetic steel sample I have been given. Trying to uncover the grain structure like a jigsaw pattern of this magical matter hidden under a grey coating. I had no luck trying to reveal the pattern just by sanding. I then tried sanding the coating away quite aggressively and etching in 1:4 nitric acid for 10 minutes. This did reveal the hidden structure but not very cleanly and weirdly sanding or polishing after etching made the pattern disappear again.

Then I tried finer sanding plus 10 minutes in a copper sulphate solution with just a careful wipe with a sponge to clean the plate and was quite happy how things were progressing. I quite like the coppery tinge.

I discovered the pattern comes from rolling single crystals of an iron silicon alloy into thin sheets to minimise magnetic losses for use in transformers. I decided to have another try with nitric acid on a larger piece just to compare but had very poor results.

An attempt with copper sulphate again on a larger piece this time wasn’t quite so clean as before although the structure is visible. I am wondering if there is a better side to etch – both sides look the same but maybe there is a difference in how deep the structure is hidden.

Working through some ideas for a proposal has helped with focus for video work using iron filings over a boulder (made from paper clay) set in a cave. Working title Belly of a Rock which will be a video sculpture.

The same with some experiments with vessels and salt crystals. Exploring possibilites.

Out of Studio

The Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition

Favourite stands were obviously those with a connection to magnets or cosmic rays.

Exciting research from a collaboration between the University of Birmingham, Keele University and
MICA Biosystems on remote controlled healing to treat spinal injuries and tissue regeneration using ground-breaking advances in nanotechnology and magnetics.

Magnetic nanoparticles exhibit superparamagnetism, meaning that these tiny magnetic particles flip magnetic orientation between north and south rapidly at random appearing to be non-magnetic unless subjected to a magnetic field. When a magnetic field is applied, the particles’ ‘north’ and ‘south’ align with the field direction, turning the nanoparticles’ magnetic properties ‘on’. By binding these nanoparticles to stem cells and injecting them into the body they can be directed to the target injury site using a controlled magnetic field outside the body. Once at the injury site the magnetic force can be turned on and off to stimulate the cells controlling cell behaviour and biological pathways speeding up the healing process.

When a meteoroid survives a trip through the atmosphere and hits the ground, it’s called a meteorite.

The Natural History Museum were displaying meteorite samples including a large fragment of the Winchcombe meteorite, an extremely rare carbonaceous chondrite observed entering the Earth’s atmosphere as a fireball over Gloucestershire at 21:54 hours on 28 February 2021 and landing in a family home driveway. It was the first time in 30 years, a meteorite has been recovered in the UK. It’s unexpected arrival from the asteroid belt near Jupiter was captured on a system of UK Fireball Alliance cameras as well as local CCTV and doorbell cameras.

Most iron meteorites are thought to be the cores of asteroids that melted early in their history. The crystal structure (image left) known as Widmanstätten patterns in iron meteors forms from criss-cross plates of an iron-nickel alloy. Slicing the meteor at various angles reveals different patterns.

I was informed that this texture was made visible by etching the meteorite in hydrofluoric acid though it may also need polishing. This made me hopeful to reveal the hidden structure of the directional magnetic steel sample (image right) provided to me by Union Steel Products which is currently hidden by an opaque grey coating over a thin layer of smooth steel. I first saw this type of extra magnetic steel at the National Physical Laboratory open day. It is no longer manufactured in the UK and so am grateful for the sample.

Very excited to talk to Lancaster University about their new Extreme Space Weather Monitoring research. The first international network of ground-level neutron detectors to measure the number of high-energy charged particles striking the Earth’s atmosphere from outer space was established in 1957 but these used toxic materials and are costly to run so many were decommissioned. There are only 50 left worldwide and none in the UK. Lancaster are developing a new-generation radiation detector intended to help protect safety-critical systems and national infrastructure against the effects of severe space weather. Space radiation can affect aircraft systems, communications, and cause current surges in power grids and other ground-level systems. There are significant risks to the infrastructures we rely on in daily life so predicting solar storms could provide a warning to shut down or move vulnerable systems before they get hit.

I asked Professor of Space Physics Jim Wild and his colleague Andrew Parker from the school of engineering radiation protection dept. about the event count for my own cosmic ray detector and they thought it sounded about right. As I cannot be sure of the quality of my plastic scintillator the count may not be scientifically accurate in measuring all events but I can feel confident that events I do record and will use to trigger code to display video starbursts are from direct contact with a particle that has travelled from outer space.

Alienarium 5 Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster at Serpentine Gallery. Managed to miss the seductive glimpse of The Closed Planet and any holograms but did experience the VR though connections promised with other alien beings failed to materialize – there were other forms floating in the distance but no way to communicate. I suppose this reinforced the difficulty of cross being communication. The reading list turned to cushions had become a toddler soft play area and while the 360 panorama was impressive in scale and content included it felt ‘educational’ as opposed to enlightening.

Theaster Gates, the Serpentine Pavilion 2022 Black Chapel draws inspiration from many of the architectural typologies that ground the artist’s practice. It is impressive in scale and simplicity.

I am a big fan of Lindsay Seers work and loved the Artangel commission Nowhere Less Now at The Tin Tabernacle, Kilburn in 2012.

This was my post at the time;

Lindsay Seers work is narrative but is not a linear story. The past present and future entwine with the thoughts of multiple characters. Everything is connected but like in a dream those connections are just beyond grasp as they shift and change and merge. I wasn’t sure if I fell asleep or not, my eyes seemed to be open but I had those moments of falling from consciousness being tucked up in a warm blanket can induce. The haunting sea shanty played in the headphones ‘ the sea will take her slender body..’ over and over, a narrative from one side in Seers soft tone then someone speaks abruptly from behind, another voice is heard at a a distance, some music starts up and all the while the dual projections onto giant convex and concave spheres in the disorienting location of an upside down ships hull sweeps through history into a CGI future and back to the present. We were given a free book on exit, it is another layer to the whole experience and I have no idea what is true and what is fiction, this means the fantastical can appear to be reality and I like that. There are many things to wonder about in Lindsay Seers work. In Seers work the explanation about the work is part of the work and so may be just a fiction as much as the work itself.

Jump ten years to Cold Light a collaboration with Keith Sargent at Matt’s Gallery in their new swanky location at Nine Elms. Subtle intervention has been sacrificed for the installation which is engaging on a different more immediate sensory level of flashing lights on shiny objects. The work is inspired by the futurist Nikola Tesla and his experiments with electricity in the early part of the 20th century. Cold light refers to light produced electrically rather than by fire. The use of low-fi silver foil and extractor vent tubing, along with scaffolding and clunky robotics give an impression of the home inventor. This would have looked futuristic in Tesla’s lifetime. I experienced the VR CGI environment, it was cold place emotionally despite the pigeons which were apparently Tesla’s true love. Is this the CGI future alluded to in past work?

Fabulous work from Grace Ndiritu An Absolute River at Lux. An Absolute River’s title derives from Borges’ theories on the fluidity of time. Borges features as a fictional protagonist in Ndiritu’s Black Beauty, and his notion of “An Absolute River” was inspired by Heraclitus’ “No Man ever Steps in the Same River Twice”. Her films blur the lines between different time frames and explore themes of media, authorship and historical narratives, whilst expanding on notions of temporality. Her work is so good.

SPACE IS THE PLACE

What a joy to experience The Sun Ra Arkestra

In some far off place
Many light years in space
I’ll wait for you
Where human feet have never trod
Where human eyes have never seen
I’ll build a world of abstract dreams
And wait for you

The Ruins of Time at St. Augustine’s Tower, Hackney. “Tower” is part four of the “Ruins of Time” project, organized by LME (London – Munich Exchange) exploring the passage of time and its specific expression in the place, space and architecture of the site. Curated by Eleonora Bourmistrov and Milena Michalski who are exhibiting alongside Myra Brooklyn, Risha Gorig, Angelika Hofmann, Monika Kita, Brigitte C. Reichl, and Marcia Teusink. Many thoughtful works and a marvellous installation from Eleonora Bourmistrov.

The London Group exhibition including work from Victoria Arney (birdsong translated into woodcuts), Carol Wyss (examining the ribcage as protective enfolding), Sandra Crisp (blender generated molecules with embedded culture – a culture with culture) and Beverley Duckworth (Dust from the Sahara) in Catch Your Breath at Morley Gallery.

‘Catching one’s breath can happen if surprised, impressed or even shocked by something, such as an extraordinary object or image stumbled upon that instantaneously changes a familiar viewpoint. It can also be a time to pause or reflect and take stock.’

Working on The Breath of Stars I have been thinking about the breath and its active nature and inter-actions so it was interesting to see the many interpretations here.

Cloud Point at Paradise Row curated by Nicolas Bourriaud in collaboration with Radicants.

Text from the Gallery:

The artists (Nicolas Aguirre, Hicham Berrada, Marieke Bernard Berkel, Alice Channer, Pakui Hardware, My-Lan Hoang-Thuy, Zarah Landes, Estrid Lutz, Tala Madani, Pamela Rosenkranz) in this exhibition belong to a generation for whom no material is natural anymore. Matter, in its totality, is both form and content, subject and object, nature and culture. In other words, there is no neutral background in today’s images, but streams and active forces.

Cloud Point gathers artists who don’t consider objects, products or masses in their work, but rather the atomic structure of our surroundings, and theirs. They are particularly interested in the in-betweens — processes of liquefaction, moments of coagulation, condensation points… The emergence of this molecular gaze in contemporary art also reflects in theory and politics.

Politics goes molecular as Felix Guattari had already stated, in the 1970’s, talking about a necessary ‘molecular revolution’. We see how gas, oil, bacterias, viruses or chemicals become the new agents of History. Zygmunt Bauman analysed postmodern capitalism as a process of liquefaction of our institutions. Today Karen Barad describes matter, at its molecular stage, as pure ‘queerness’. And according to Rosa Braidotti, ‘Capital seeks and reduces body fluids to merchandise: the sweat and cheap blood of the labor force available throughout the Third World; but also the fluids of the desire of First World consumers who reduce their existence to a commodity by transforming it into a hyper-saturated state of confusion.’

I have returned to my BA dissertation from 2007 The Communication of Ecological Concerns Through Contemporary Artistic Practice to look at excerpts where I discussed the theories of Nicolas Bourriaud.

‘The intertwining of ecological and political processes with artistic practises is explored in conjunction with the particular theories of Bruno Latour, Nicolas Bourriaud and Zygmunt Bauman. These writers all speak of a need to establish new ways of communicating about the complexities of our relationships to our environments as we move through different spaces to those of the past. In light of this necessity, the precarious balance an artist must achieve to engage a contemporary urban audience with an environmental message, without losing sight of their aesthetic, or becoming embroiled in the nullifying production of commodity, is debated.’

‘Bourriaud documents the shift in focus from the visual to the relational during the 1990’s when new forms of communication  available through modern technologies coincided with an economic depression. For the artist there was a lack of funding for the spectacular but also the opportunity to experiment with spaces previously given over to exchange and barter. The artists took as their medium something they found lacking in  other areas of daily life; social relations which did not involve supplier-customer exchanges. The loss of personal interactions from daily life as more and more functions were performed by or through machines and computers were reborn in the processes of participatory practises where the audience was invited to experience rather than behold.’

‘An artwork’s short life span is not necessarily a reflection of the insatiable appetite of the gallery going public to consume and discard art as any other commodity. In using relational aesthetics the artist deliberately steps outside of this cycle. Artists who base their practises on exchanges of experience and communication through tangible means which have no value as art outside a temporal set of circumstances give the public a chance to experience a different type of social bond. From the ethos of relational aesthetics is born the possibility of art infecting the collective subjectivity. Artists whose work sidesteps the rules of the market place create a ‘social interstice,’ a small space in which to explore relations with the world. An interstice does not operate in the same way as a message, which is akin to advertising and belongs in the world of marketing. The space created must be inviting or intriguing to draw the audience into a realm of possibility, to start a conversation not give a lecture.’


I selected seven works alongside my own for an informal tour at Wells Art Contemporary to promote conversations inspired by the works. Shield – Peter Newell-Price, Chronologer (chalk and bone) – Paul Tuppeny, Screw Up Repeat – Kate McDonnell, Beneath the Heavens III – Kaori Homma, Route 339 – John Ball, Everyone was a bird – Caro Williams, Two-Sided I & II – Aliceson Carter.

Out of thousands of submissions, this year’s judging panel, Matthew Burrows MBE, Dale Lewis and Nana Shiomi, selected a shortlist of 120 artworks by 111 artists for the 2022 exhibition.

29 site-specific installations have also been selected by Clare Burnett and Jacquiline Creswell to stand as interventional responses to the architectural, spatial and spiritual aspects of Wells Cathedral.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Capturing garden activity through the solar cycle with a spycam.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Testing ‘The Forms’ as a floor piece.

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

Thanks to KIPAC Stanford University for the data visualisations.

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

Out of Studio

Reflections at Workplace Gallery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seth Price – Art Is Not Human at Sadie Coles

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

Melanie Manchot Alpine Diskomiks at Parafin.

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

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

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

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

Larry Bell at Hauser and Wirth

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

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

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

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

Marcus Cope Silver Linings at Peer

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

Beautiful and terrible.

Alice Bucknell Swamp City at Hoxton 253 Project Space

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

Charlotte Johannesson Circuit at Hollybush Gardens.

“Nature speaks in symbols and signs.”

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

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

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

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.

1809 Pentacoronae 2
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.

1809 Pentacoronae 1
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

1809 Forest WIP

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

1809 eunjumg kim

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

1809 rebecca huxley

Rebecca Huxley 18 degrees below the Horizon 

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

1809 Diego Valente

Diego Valente A Copy With No Original

and William Arnold – common lepidopteran misadventures in artificial light

1809 William Arnold 2

William Arnold Dark Spectacle

1809 project Space.jpg

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.

1809 Cloud Chamber demo 2

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.

1809 Holly Graham

Charmaine Watkiss showing beautiful ephemeral work at the MA Drawing Final Show at Wimbledon College of Art. A collision of then and now, displacement of body and soul, reaching back for symbols of meaning.

Highlights at this years New Scientist Live were talks from Jon Butterworth – Journeys into Particle Physics, Roberto Trotta – What Has Einstein ever done for you? and Dean Burnett – What makes your brain happy?

I came away thinking about what influences my perception of time and the chemicals that subtlety alter how I experience the world.

If you travel close to the speed of light, distances contract in your direction of motion, while time will dilate more and more the faster you move.  A muon lives: about 2.2 microseconds on average. The speed limit of the Universe = the speed of light. Something moving at the speed of light that only lives 2.2 microseconds, should make it only 0.66 kilometers before decaying. A muon has similar properties to an electron. However, it is 200 times heavier. Muons travel at approximately 98% of the speed of light. The closer you move to the speed of light, the slower your clock appears to run. Cosmic ray muons have such high energies that a journey which takes about 300 microseconds from our point-of-view only takes about 1 microsecond for the muon. Time dilation allows these particles to live.

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I am beginning research for the High Altitude Balloon project. I need so much help! The good people of the HAB community are thankfully giving me lots of advice. One big concern is that the Allenheads Contemporary Arts potential launch site is high up and in the centre of a very narrow bit of the UK.  Wind makes for a difficult launch and could just take it straight out to sea.

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One of my first jobs is to check with the Civil Aviation Authority that the launch site is safe from their perspective.

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I want to film particularly at the altitude where peak cosmic ray activity takes place – this is where the secondary particles that we see in the cloud chamber are smashed into existence.  As the particle activity will be invisible I want to film the aesthetics of the curve of the earth and blue haze of the atmosphere bleeding into the blackness of space. I think my target height will be 30km.

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Cosmic rays are mostly protons and atomic nuclei created in stars and super novae explosions or other unknown events.  Sometimes a rare one will arrive with unimaginably high energy. The first “Oh-My-God particle” was recorded in October 1991 and had an energy 40 million times greater than the Large Hadron Collider can generate with 100 quintillion the photon energy of visible light, it was travelling at 99.999 999 999 999 999 999 999 51% the speed of light. One of these could be passing through you right now.

 

I have put together a short video documentation of Scales of Intangibility an interactive installation set in a black velvet lined room made during my Studio4 residency at Chisenhale Art Place. Immersive projections of particle trails, filmed from my cloud chamber experiments, make visible the activity of cosmic rays and background radiation that pass through us continuously without our awareness.

1804 documentation scales 4.jpgThrough experiencing this usually unseen activity of particles that shower down on us when cosmic rays strike the edge of the earth’s atmosphere we can begin to think about other possibilities of what might be present in our universe that we are currently unable to interact with such as dark matter.

Excited to hear that in 2019 Science Gallery London will be exploring dark matter with a scientific and philosophical investigation into the fundamental nature of reality, taking  the theory of dark matter as a starting point for conceptual investigations and experimental forms of inquiry.

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Original dark matter detector Boulby Underground Laboratory

The text In the Dark by Alexander B. Fry will be one of the texts discussed during the upcoming Laboratory of Dark Matters event being hosted by Guest Projects as part of their 10 Year Anniversary celebration weekend.

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Short texts which have a relationship to the exploration of dark matter as a scientific or philosophical concept will be presented to stimulate questions and encourage shared knowledge across disciplines and perspectives. These will also include excerpts from Joyful Cruelty: Towards a Philosophy of the Real by Clément Rosset – translated by David F. Bell, 1993 and Edward Irving’s 1905 How To Know The Starry Heavens.

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The New Materialisms Reading Group I attend has been persevering with Donna Haraway’s Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene. It has had an influence on the work I am making for the upcoming exhibition at Ugly Duck Lumen: Cosmic PerspectivesThe exhibition aims to inspire a change of thinking through highlighting the precarious nature of life, and the extraordinary set of circumstances that allow us to exist, in an otherwise, possibly, lifeless universe.

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I have been out taking new photographs in local paradise locations to use for submīrārī (earthbound). Printed on organza, the ethereal images will float in water in earthclad bowls, landscapes fluctuating on the cusp of disappearance. Donna Haraway, drawing from Latour, proposes the ‘Earthbound’ as those humans who are ready to rethink and create new narratives with Gaia at the centre, who recognise the entanglement of society and nature and aim to pursue a ‘nonarrogant collaboration with all those in the muddle’. The shift in perspective embraced by the ‘Earthbound’ embodies a grief shared with other species at loss of habitat and disappearing landscapes. It is not a nostalgia for paradise lost but a reappraisal of what paradise could be. The scenes depicted in this work, sourced from prosaic locations named Paradise, aim towards deconstructing a romanticised ideology and bringing us down to earth.

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We must stay with the trouble. It is important to care. ‘We are all responsible to and for shaping conditions for multispecies flourishing…’.

So glad I got to see Marcus Coates exhibition at Workplace Gallery. He shares a similar sensibility to Haraway regarding response-ability and interconnection to other species. He engages in new ways of thinking through humour and pathos. In The Last of Its Kind  a video where he faces the ocean naked, desperately shouting a list of human achievements at an indifferent landscape he brings home the insignificance of the human in the history of Gaia while in Apology to the Great Auk the extinction of this once numerous flightless bird is placed firmly on our collective shoulders.

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Extinct Animals is a collection of Plaster of Paris casts of the artists hands taken whilst performing the extinct animal’s shadow. His work is absurd, painful and joyful.

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Lorna Simpson’s beautiful show Unanswerable at Hauser & Wirth London questions the archive, how we hold onto the past through artefact or memory, ultimately all of this will dissolve away despite out best efforts.1804 Lorna Simpson

Looking through the prism of media presentation of women and the African American experience as portrayed in magazines that reflect a different era.1804 Lorna Simpson 2

There is an appeal in the aesthetic of old magazines, a nostalgia could be evoked. Or it could just be a painful reminder of issues that are still to be fully resolved.

 

1804 1953 Cosmetic RaysThe Tate screening of Jean Painlevé’s documentary films Silver, Photons and Liquid Crystals was a rare chance to see his abstract films made between the early 1930s and the late 1970s on liquid crystals, photons, diatoms and silver nitrate. It was an odd mix of science and psychedelia. Painlevé used the microscope and modern optics to reveal the natural world in intricate detail. I particularly wanted to see the early films of photons and silver nitrate but it was quite hard to decipher and at times the bizarre commentary was distracting. The programme’s finale was rewarding with some stunning footage of liquid crystals.

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Jean Painlevé Phase Transition in Liquid Crystals

Micro to wide angle but with a shared curiosity to re-present the world beyond our natural senses. Andreas Gursky at Hayward. ‘Driven by an interest and insight into ‘the way that the world is constituted’, as well as what he describes as ‘the pure joy of seeing’, Gursky makes photographs that are not just depictions of places or situations, but reflections on the nature of image-making and the limits of human perception. Often taken from a high vantage point, these images make use of a ‘democratic’ perspective that gives equal importance to all elements of his highly detailed scenes.’

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I still have to finish editing the video filmed in the velvet chamber in collaboration with dance artist Paola Napolitano exploring theories from Laban and Plato. The process can be maddening and slow when you are new to the software. I am trying to get to grips with After Effects to clone out some unwanted light reflections but keep finding myself in a black hole and having to start again.

1804 video stillOn the horizon is new work for In Search of Darkness an exhibition curated by Lumen in Grizedale Forest to highlight the importance of preserving dark sky areas and raise awareness of the ecological problems caused by light pollution. My proposal is to create a suspended sculptural print that demonstrates, through the choice of materials, that adding light doesn’t always make things more visible. To relate the loss of knowledge of the night sky through urban light pollution to the unknown mysteries of the universe yet to be revealed.

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Blinded by the light. Great sun spangled woodland scene in an inspiring show from Christiane Baumgartner Liquid Light at Alan Cristea.

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Enjoyed a visit to see Sam Hodge in Surface Tension with Andy D’Cruz and Marcia Teusink at The Stone Space. The works explore the idea of surface tension as a force and a potency between objects and materials.

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Tense with anticipation. Totally enthralling story telling from mythologist Martin Shaw. A woman arises from a mare’s tale plant with red beads falling from her mouth as she speaks, and a king’s son tied to the top of the tallest pine tree, is slowly becoming a crow.

Down below the forest path splits into two. One path is that of the sable. The other path is that of the bear. One is good. One is very bad.

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A second visit to experience the powerful performance of Simon McBurney in The Encounter. Inspired by the book Amazon Beaming by Petru Popescu he tells the extraordinary story of Loren McIntyre, a National Geographic photographer, who in 1969 found himself lost among the people of the remote Javari Valley in Brazil. It was an encounter that took him to the limits of human consciousness and questioned his idea of reality. The evening ended with Marcus de Soutey joining Simon McBurney for an open discussion on what consciousness might be, how it can be experienced collectively, how we determine reality, non-linear time and what happens when we die.

1804 The Encounter

The dead live on through our memories. Retrieving memories is a dynamic process – every time you recall a memory you have to repeat a pattern of signals – this is how memories change as the pattern changes or becomes incomplete. It’s interesting that there are alternate pathways in the brain to the same or a similar outcome.

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National Geographic reporter Loren McIntyre had his world illuminated to other ways of thinking I wonder if Martin Pomerantz Trailing Cosmic Rays in Canada’s North in 1953 ever had a similar experience, maybe he encountered some women with interests other than cosmetics.

 

What information could be stored in dark matter?

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Before we could attempt an answer to this question we first had to decide what we meant by ‘information’.

The Dark Matter Day Discussion Group at UCL’s Institute of Education was a cross discipline event looking at three texts as catalysts to spark conversations about dark matter research, ideas of discovery, knowledge and materialisms.

Symmetry Magazine: The origins of dark matter.
From the primordial soup of the Big Bang to freeze-out and the WIMP miracle.

Chantal Faust: Dark Matters  – a specially commissioned essay for Laboratory of Dark Matters

Kader Attia: The Loop
Planetary Computing (Is the Universe Actually a Gigantic Computer?)

Creation, transition, destruction, decay. Matter is constantly regenerated. Our perception of broken is negative. Information is not ‘lost’ but released and absorbed.

Turning to Carlo Rovelli for an insight; The word ‘information’ is highly ambiguous being used in a variety of contexts from mental and semantic (“the information stored in your USB is comprehensible”) to mathematically quantifiable  (“the information stored in your USB is 32 Gigabytes”). There is physical information which is based on correlation that adheres to the laws of physics and meaningful information that leads to intentionality, agency, purpose and function. Physics is not a science about how the world is: it is a science of how the world can be.

We questioned if we have lost ancient knowledge and ways of understanding. Our senses are capped but it is possible to gain enhanced consciousness through forms of meditation and how is this experienced?

Further reading to explore perceptions of reality, self awareness and consciousness; David Bohm On Creativity and with Bryan Hiley The Undivided Universe: An Ontological Interpretation of Quantum Theory.

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Two publications were also launched.

Laboratory of Dark Matters – a project overview publication with an introduction to Dark Matter and Boulby Underground Laboratory and contributions from participating artists. Daniel Clark, Luci Eldridge, Susan Eyre, Kate Fahey, Amy Gear, Sarah Gillett, Peter Glasgow, Robert Good, Melanie King and Elizabeth Murton.

Also an artist edition of the insightful poetic essay from Chantal Faust with layout designed by Daniel Clark to reflect the challenge of negotiating dark matter.

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Many events were scheduled to mark the newly established Dark Matter Day which the STFC decided should share the date with Halloween.

The Royal Astronomical Society hosted a symposium convened by chair of the Dark Matter UK (DMUK) Consortium, Dr Chamkaur Ghag (UCL). Understanding the nature of Dark Matter is one of the most important scientific missions of our time. UK researchers are at the forefront of Dark Matter research: modelling its impact on cosmology in N-body simulations; mapping its distribution with weak lensing studies; seeking direct detection in highly sensitive detectors buried deep underground; searching for signatures of Dark Matter annihilations in space; and even trying to produce some new Dark Matter at the LHC. The afternoon’s speakers were Dr Andrew Pontzen (UCL) on Dark Matter in the Cosmos, Prof. Henrique Araujo (Imperial College London) on Searching for Dark Matter, Prof. Jocelyn Monroe (Royal Holloway University of London) on Global Impact from Dark Matter Research and Prof. Malcolm Fairbairn (King’s College London) on Theories of Dark Matter.

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Following the inspiring project proposal judging dinner with Yinka Shonibare, when difficult decisions were made, the successful proposals for Guest Projects 2018 have been announced. Having been a part of the process I am excited for all the groups and anticipating some excellent projects.

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Ugly Duck “Ways of Sensing” talk during the “Making It Real” festival explored the intersection of analogue and digital technologies.

The speakers were Lewis Bush and Levin Haegele  who use spectrographic, infrared and satellite technologies to process alternative ways of capturing information.

Levin Haegele sounds like an a very useful person to know. His mission is to realise the impossible dreams of artists. He also converts cameras to shoot in infra red and ultra violet.

 

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Levin Haegele shot with converted IR camera

 

Lewis Bush spies on international spy networks listening in to their coded messages, plotting their signal origins and collaging together complex satellite maps of remote terrains.

 

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Lewis Bush from Shadows of the State

 

Night time visit to Vitrine showing THE ONLYES POWER IS NO POWER from Wil Murray.

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Swirling and mutating, the image origins are echoes of locations where his family circus performed that were also the locations of “balloon bomb” strikes. The seasons marking time, summer and winter negatives overlaid and partially obscured with painted brush strokes. Painting out of history or the subconscious.

How information is lost or passed on is addressed in Blade Runner 2049 set in a dystopian future coping with a catastrophic digital data wipe leaving a gap in history.

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A short visit to Everything At Once at Store Studios, curated by Greg Hilty and Ossian Ward  for Lisson Gallery in collaboration with The Vinyl Factory.

Despite his rather selfish egotistical patenting of Vanta Black I have to admit Anish Kapoor makes visually intriguing works.

 

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Anish Kapoor At The Edge of the World II

 

 

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Ai Weiwei Iron Tree Trunk

 

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Dan Graham Two V’s Entrance-Way

 

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Rodney Graham Vexation Island (still)

 

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Allora and Calzadilla Solar Catastrophe

Alma Thomas showing in Soul of a Nation at Tate Modern. (At 80 was the first African American woman to have a solo show at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1972.)Fascinated by the space age she followed daily reports of NASA’s Mariner 9 mission to photograph Mars. Huge dust storms on the planet prevented images from being relayed back to earth but inspired her to make this work.

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Alma Thomas Mars Dust (detail)

Ilya and Emilia Kabakov Not Everyone Will Be Taken Into The Future

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Great title – Not Everyone Will Be Taken Into The Future, for me conjures an image of the time when we have to leave this planet for some new home and there are only a few spaces available on the spaceship, though really it is talking about being remembered, having a legacy that lives on.

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Human engagement for the storage of information in opposition to death cannot be measured with the same scales used by the natural scientist. Carbon-dating tests measure the natural time according to the information loss of specific radioactive atoms. However, the artificial time of human freedom (“historical time”) cannot be measured by simply turning carbon-dating formulas around, so that they now measure the accumulation of information.” Vilém Flusser

Sam Hodge created an atmospheric immersive experience at The Crypt Gallery, Kings Cross for White Noise, a collective that presents works investigating a world filled with omnipresent background noise, explorations of ‘seeing the unseen’, ‘zones of indiscernibility’ and the ‘indeterminate’, and the freedom of the imagination to fill the void.

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Sam Hodge Vibrant Matter

“The Sun, the Moon, the Earth and its contents are material to form greater things, that is, ethereal things – greater things than the Creator himself has made” John Keats, 1817

The Live Creature and Ethereal Things  excellent discussion event at Arts Catalyst initiated by  Fiona Crisp as part of her ongoing research project Material Sight of non-documentary photography and video to interrogate extremes of visual and imaginative representation in fundamental science and technology. She has also visited Boulby Mine.

 

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Fiona Crisp Pump Lodge (from Boulby Series, Subterrania)

 

Participants included Tara Shears, Suchitra Sebastian talking about emergent particles and new states of matter that require new language to describe, Nahum Mantra demonstrating the Theremin and talking about mesmerism and invisible forces and arts Catalyst director Nicola Triscott. How to make big science more intimate.

Tara Shears clarity on the structure of the universe containing just 12 ingredients (quarks and leptons) held by 4 fundamental forces brought home a happy analogy for me with the 12 sided dodecahedron Plato’s representative shape of the universe.

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This has prompted me to look closer at Dante’s cosmology as a description of a finite universe, now known as the 3-sphere universe.

I am enjoying making intuitive connections to link the attributes of each heavenly sphere with those of the quarks and leptons. inspired by mythology going back to my reaction when I first came across the seemingly autological names of the quarks and leptons. Up Quark would be the Empyrean and Down Quark earthly paradise and the plucky Muon who appears in my cloud chamber takes Mars for Virtues and courage.

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Fiona Crisp warned against the dangers of art and science collaborations instrumentalising each other. Her work attempts to present an image to be viewed without trying to extract knowledge as in documentation. To evoke time, distance and scale yet create an intimacy of looking and embracing productive doubt.

“Both those taking snaps and documentary photographers, however, have not understood ‘information.’ What they produce are camera memories, not information, and the better they do it, the more they prove the victory of the camera over the human being.” Vilém Flusser

Following Fiona Crisp’s research into sharing knowledge combined with the act of making. ‘Origami-Folding the Local Universe’.   I learnt of the Council of Giants, a ring of 12 large galaxies surrounding the Local Group of which our milky way is a member, in the Local Sheet (where nearby galaxies share a similar velocity). Another key 12 to consider.

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Two everydaymatters circles showing at Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair with Thames-side Studios.

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everydaymatters (Paradise Passage #1 N7) sold

1710 everydaymatters (paradise passage #1 N7)

Back in the studio I pulled out some work I started a long while ago but never finished. Avondale Rialto is from when I was looking at the exotic names given to the prosaic caravan, when escape is an ideal never realised. It ties in with the idea of a paradise to be found. I may do some more work with this.

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Below the pavements and around the foundations of the City’s offices lies a layer of Dark Earth: the debris from the collapse and decay of lost centuries including that of Roman London. Powered by wiretapper, Dark Earth audio experience led us from a secret rendezvous to the underground ruins of a Roman house via a rambling narrative attempting to create a steamy atmosphere appropriate to a bath house and pill (tic tac) popping time travel back to a civilisation teetering on the edge of its downfall.

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“Human engagement for the storage of information in opposition to death cannot be measured with the same scales used by the natural scientist. Carbon-dating tests measure the natural time according to the information loss of specific radioactive atoms. However, the artificial time of human freedom (“historical time”) cannot be measured by simply turning carbon-dating formulas around, so that they now measure the accumulation of information.” Vilém Flusser

The duly received wordpress pre posting sharing alert –  ‘a broken connection requires repair’ takes on new significance after our dark matter day discussions.

‘The omnipresence of repair in the universe is without a doubt the sole reason it is shared by both mathematics and art. It is a primary characteristic of human biological and cultural evolution. Without the process of repair, there would be nothing — neither chaos nor stability. Everything is guided by the determinist agency of repair.’ Kader Attia

 

1709 CIMM exhibition 1Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum exhibition brought work created for Guest Projects residency into a very different space, reinventing and presenting it in new ways.

1709 diazographoDiazôgraphô – (Wood, acrylic, digital print) has been reworked since Guest Projects. You can still see through it, but it is more reflecting; you and your surroundings are echoed in it and so it appears you are both surrounded by and surrounding the same space.

 

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Using the dodecahedron as a motif for the universe I like this quality that draws on Dante’s description of the universe as concentric circles; that the very outer circles also appear to be enclosed by the inner circles and the relationship that this enfolding space has to a 3-sphere and Poincaré dodecahedral space. Plato described the dodecahedron as ‘a fifth construction, which the god used for embroidering the constellations on the whole heaven ’  so it works as a metaphor for dark matter too – a phenomena that binds the galaxies together.

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The Forms – (Etched aluminium) Installed in a new configuration here as a net that together would build a dodecahedron. In scientific visualisations of dark matter we see familiar organic patterns emerge; the fronds of dark matter spanning galaxies could be the spreading branches of trees or the veins under our skin. The realm of abstract thought Plato called The Forms is where ideals reside, outside the limitations of the physical world and where, if anywhere, paradise might be found.

Some work by the other Laboratory of Dark Matter artists was new, some reworked or given new context

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Amy Gear Nudge – (Painting on unstretched canvas)  Reflecting on video footage from a Women’s Self Defence and Green Screen Workshop run in collaboration with martial arts expert Jiff Higman, the work employs the body as a tool to help describe the incomprehensible notion that only 5% of the universe is visible to us; the bodily contact through self-defence actions related to the contact scientists are hoping for when a dark matter particle ‘nudges’ the nucleus of the target element (Xenon) and causes a recoil that can be recorded.

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Elizabeth Murton Connective Matter #3 – (Porcelain paper clay, LED lights, wire, yarn), a new site specific iteration in a series creating a connective web of black yarn and illuminated ceramic objects made by spinning clay, like the spinning which forms planets, stars and galaxies from the matter of the universe. We cannot see dark matter directly, only infer it indirectly from observations such as the spin of the galaxies and gravitational lensing and so must speculate its structure and role in the universe.

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KATE FAHEY Optimistic – (Copper and resin); Dark Adaptation – (Digital video with two channel audio) calling on lost lore and old forms of knowledge to negotiate technology and scientific advancement, the work seeks to establish a speculative relationship between dark matter, dark adaptation, the lectures of Rudolf Steiner on the practice of divining and John Carpenter’s film They Live, where the main character discovers sunglasses that reveal an alternative reality.  Dark adaptation refers to the ability of the eye to adjust to various levels of darkness and light.

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Daniel Clark Projected Chamber – (Giclée print) describes a potential space, a chamber that exists only through a distortion of light captured at the moment of creation.

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Veil – (Pigment on archival polyester) examines ways of visualising or mapping the invisible and the transference of imagery from intriguing and unexplained sources. A vinyl cutting machine was programmed to draw with a marker pen instead of to cut, reimagining the single line engraving of the Face of Christ, known as the Sudarium of Saint Veronica, by Claude Mellan from 1649.

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Luci Eldridge Untitled (Dark Matter, Reconstructed) – (3D print with silver leaf, privacy screen filter) In 2007, a group of NASA and ESA scientists led by Richard Massey constructed a three-dimensional map offering the first look at the web-like distribution of dark matter in the universe. This 3D model reassembles this data to present the invisible as a cluster of abstract forms. The intangible is objectified as a collection of shiny entities reminiscent of early sci-fi aesthetics.
Germanium Fragments I-VI – (Duotone photo-lithographs) Germanium is one of the elements often used in the detection of dark matter. The lithographs depict tiny fragments of this lustrous grey metalloid, the surfaces reflecting the dazzling lights of the scanner bed on which they were imaged. Combined, the prints and 3D model play with limits of visibility, the boundaries between surface and depth and the loss of any kind of sense of scale.

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Melanie King Cosmic Ray Oscillograph – (Phosphorescent spinning disc, solenoid, laser, data from LUX video credit: Euan James-Richards) A laser light is sporadically jolted across a rotating disc coated in phosphorescence by a solenoid translating wave form data captured from the Large Underground Xenon Dark Matter detector. The data is transformed to an audio signal using computer coding techniques and represents cosmic rays which have been detected along the way towards finding elusive dark matter. Cosmic Ray Oscillograph, Cameraless Photograph uses direct laser light onto Ilford Multigrade Resin Coated Paper Pearl.

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Sarah Gillett The Case of the Gold Ring (research mapping wall) plots the discoveries made while tracing the history of her Mother’s gold ring; it’s unique personal journey as well as it’s cosmic origins. The ring becomes much more than a circle of gold as connections are made across space and time, from the boxing ring to the financial bullring and the asteroid belt.

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Peter Glasgow The Indicators of Illusive Ideas – (Audio and text) frames itself as an attempted commentary, and plays with the notion of producing a commentary on something in the world. It’s about language, and format, and ways of stringing ideas together. It finds a narrative about art practice within another narrative from popular culture, speculating on making in terms of loyalty and legitimacy. It is a contemplation on the commentaries that run alongside a process; the attempts to get close to something but failing.

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Robert Good How To Know The Starry Heavens – (Text fragments) Selected text snippets from Edward Irving’s book of the same name are set on a vast dark backdrop to appear from a distance like a sparkling galaxy of stars but close up to spark our imagination with language full of wonder.1709 Cimm diazographo light

I was invited by the Institute of Physics to write a blog about Laboratory of Dark Matters  read it here –  IOP BLOG   …. The visit to Boulby Mine was a catalyst for us to develop new artworks reflecting our personal responses to dark matter research and the broader issues it touches upon…

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As a satellite event to the exhibition at Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum we had additional sponsorship from the Institute of Physics to host an afternoon of talks at Whitby Museum as part of their summer sessions initiative to bring the arts and science together in a public forum. Emma Meehan from Boulby Underground Laboratory introduced a video tour of the facility led by Chris Toth who gave an entertaining and informative account of life 1100m below ground and the experiments that take place there.

Sara Gillett delivered her performative lecture ‘The Case of the Gold Ring’ that animates and coalesces her research presented in the exhibition and Dr Cham Ghag gave another of his incredible accessible lectures on what dark matter is not, what it might be and how it might be detected.

We were also joined by Dr Sarah Casey, artist collaborator in the brilliant project Dark Matters – Interrogating thresholds of (Im)perceptibility through Theoretical Cosmology, Fine Art & Anthropology of science,  an exciting study into radical imperceptibility or more specifically, the provocations and challenges presented to theoretical cosmology, fine art and anthropology of science, by entities, forces and dimensions that currently (or perhaps will always) exceed human and technological modes of sensing and comprehension.

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Encounters at the thresholds of human understanding, sensing, knowing, or the possibilities of relationship with the nonhuman – and the vulnerability and exhilaration that these cause – are intrinsic to the project’s methodology. On the one hand, claims from cosmology that 95% of the universe is made up of invisible dark matter and dark energy, or that it is possible to mathematically predict the existence of many more dimensions than we are aware of in our known and knowable universe, presents immediate challenges for all three disciplines as they play at the limits of sensibility and relationality with regards to human to nonhuman encounter. How to think and practice with these provocations? On the other hand a different set of challenges are inevitably posed by the complexities and endless possibilities for (mis)understandings by interdisciplinary conversation.

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Sarah Casey

For the theoretical cosmologist, when faced with the imperceptible, the imperative is to produce and contest evidence – to ultimately reveal the imperceptible or negotiate the status of the role of speculation. For the artist, the interest lies in interrogating thresholds between the seen and unseen, known, unknown and unknowable, through art practice to enable critical and poetic reflection. For the anthropologist, the category of the imperceptible provokes a questioning and further pushing of the limits of human subjectivity, experience and sensibility in relation to the inhumanly (un)manifest.

The excellent accompanying Dark Matters  video is deservedly shortlisted for the AHRC research film of the year.

A sensual treat while back in London was Wayne McGregor and Random International’s collaboration +/- Human at the Roundhouse. Extraordinary dancers and extraordinary machines. Uplifting. Disquieting.

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Laboratory of Dark Matters final event at Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum was the dark matters themed open day with dark matter life drawing in invisible ink…

1709 CIMM Open Day dark matter life drawing

…make a dark matter particle plane and fly it to hit the xenon nucleus target……

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…tours of the exhibition…..

1709 CIMM Open Day gallery tour (2)

…Robert Good reading from Edward Irving’s 1905 book How To Know the Starry Heavens. He was also encouraging visitors on the day to write their own snippets for a group collage in reply to – What do you think about when you look up at the sky at night?

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Lots of other activities like Hunt the WIMPS where small shapes denoting particles that were not WIMPS were hidden around the museum site  –  these could be found because they were not WIMPS…

1709 CIMM Open Day Activitiy tent

….Chris Toth and Emma Meehan from Boulby Underground Laboratory were on hand to answer the science questions and help out with a dark matter quiz…

and a final chance to see cosmic particle trails in the cloud chamber.

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I met Jessie Sheffield and Lauren Ilsley during a cloud chamber workshop at Guest Projects. We subsequently found we shared interests in how we perceive the world around us and I was invited to join [ALLOY] in presenting new work for the exhibition Supposedly Predictable Phenomenon at no format Gallery as part of Deptford X.

Planning new work my first thoughts were naturally Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle and thinking about natural phenomena. The shape of a raindrop, bacteria, magnets, wind, water, electricity, bending light, bouncing photons, dark photons, optic boom, special relativity. I get fixated on the 12 sides of the universe and start mapping out a sequence of 12.

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My studio is too small. I think about decisions, prisms, scattered light. If I use steel I could use magnets. I don’t have time to etch plates and print them. I think about quantum leaps, band widths and atoms. Electrons appearing and disappearing. Moving between possible multiverses. Transforming in new configurations. Circling the nucleus. A portal. A panorama. A dopler shift. How to be random?  I throw ink soaked kitchen roll and mark the spot on twelve targets.

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I decide to use softground on aluminium – an unpredictable process

1709 applying softground

Charbonnel softground smells of woodsmoke. It feels right for autumn. I draw concentric circles into the wax

A satisfying peel

Nature echoing art again.

The etching process is full of rich colours and smells. Softground on aluminium in copper sulphate is a violent etch. The heat is palpable before I reach in to pull out the plate, the wax bubbles and the blue solution darkens and smokes; I pull the plate out when it feels that any longer, it might ignite

1709 etch process

it already feels cosmic

1709 removing stopout

Each plate takes a long day to prepare; sanding and degreasing, painstakingly rolling on the softground for an even coating , fixing the paper taught and drawing with enough pressure to imprint into the wax, peeling away the image with the paper and finally etching.

1709 peel and etch (1)

Aluminium has a grain that grabs any direct light and powers it into a bright band.  It seems to absorb and glow with any colour in the room. I really like this metal.

1709 test light on etch.jpg

 

During the hiatus between the Laboratory of Dark Matters Guest Projects residency and installing at Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum was a chance to test out installation options and visit a few events.

1707 cloud chamber

Euan James-Richards created a great video for our residency at Guest Projects- view Laboratory Of Dark Matters video here.

There are a few alternative options for a dodecahedron net – this was my favourite.

1707 dodecahedron net

Connecting dark matter

1707 test The Forms

Testing in my studio which had turned into an unventilated sauna that day

1706 test The Forms 3

Heat is what makes it impossible to time travel backwards. I think. Though applying heat (200°C) to the plates again made the disperse colours that had vanished reappear………………temporarily

1707 heatpress colours reappear

Always the unexpected outcome.

1707 Minute Bodies

A real treat at the Barbican was a live accompaniment by Tindersticks to the exploratory science films made in the early 1900’s by F. Percy Smith, naturalist, inventor and documentarist. Link here- Soundtrack from documentary “Minute Bodies: The Intimate World of F. Percy Smith” (2016) by Stuart A. Staples.

In his house in Southgate, the ex-goverment clerk Percy Smith films the life stories of hundreds of rare plants

As soon as I saw this documentation I knew I would like Oliver Beer.

1707 Oliver Beer 1

Is it bad to always think – oh this reminds me of… well this reminded me of Mark Leckey – The Universal Addressability of Dumb Things

1707 Oliver Beer 2

except these artefacts sang out, resonating with the air vibrating through their hollow forms

but it was still an interrogation of a collection of objects, squeezing out an essence/aura.

Then there was the building itself – Galerie Thaddeus Ropac – it’s space mapped through sound – the singers slamming their voices into the corners which threw them back, rising and echoing off the walls, harmonising to a crescendo until every inch of space vibrated

and there was no air left to breathe that wasn’t full of sound,  it was incredibly beautiful and absorbing. Also from the inside  out – an ear trumpet to the world beyond1707 Oliver Beer 5

street noises magnified

1707 Oliver Beer 6

Another sound experience was KlangHaus 800 Breaths at the South Bank Centre. More in earnest. More theatre.

1707 Klanghaus

Great to be escorted through the otherwise out of bounds roof spaces and enjoy the mash up of film projections and live music played LOUD amid the galvanised steel ducting and ventilation systems.

1707 breath box

Time for the Royal Society Summer Exhibition late night adults only serving poison cocktails.

1707 Royal Society Poison cocktail

Dr Kathryn Harkup gave us the low down on the most efficient murder tools.  Learnt that hemlock looks very like parsley; just 1 gram of nicotine (eaten) would kill you in 4 minutes – very quick for a poisoning; 100 cups of coffee in one day would kill you with caffeine  – but the water would get you first.

First stop –  Modelling the Invisible – Durham University – where I met David Cerdeno, a colleague of Cham Ghag who I had only emailed the week before about the LODM project- they had a device where you could set your dark matter detection experiment parameters, run the experiment  and warp forward in time to get your results – lots of lucky people were finding dark matter – shows optimism for their project which is going to be installed at Snowlab in Canada.

1707 Royal Society Summer Science DM

I was encouraged to track down and read a series of books by the physicist George Gamow explaining scientific theories through the character of Mr Tompkins who experiences dreams in which he enters alternative worlds where the physical constants have radically different values from those they have in the real world.

1707 Mr Tompkins

Had a chat about Large Hadron Collider computations that come from smashing particles together – 600 million collisions every second and the incredible number of particles that get produced and just how many types of particle there are  –  I was pointed in the direction of the particle physics bible. 

1707 Royal Society Summer Science Exh

Tried to ascertain what Gravitational Waves are made of but ended up no clearer,  they are bound up in spacetime and measuring them involves incredible accuracy but I couldn’t get to grips with what medium they use to travel across space – is it the as yet unobserved gravitons? Was informed that if I had a metre ruler and took it to Mars it would be shorter but so would I be, therefore I wouldn’t notice.

1707 gravitational waves

Quantum gravity is the sought after theory. It may turn out that the distinction between spacetime and matter is invalid at the Planck scale.
Every body gravitates because it bends the space surrounding it, changing the flow of time in the process – at the same time how a body moves in a gravitational field is determined by how it fits into warped spacetime.

I think these are phenomena I am too big or too small to notice.

Bit of a public engagement thing and free apps going on at www.laserlabs.org

Should I want to make a mini supernova I need a hydrogen based product about a mm across – hit it with a very powerful laser (the Orion Laser would do) until it reaches impossible temperatures – it will explode into a supernova that would fit in the palm of my hand. Ouch.

1507 Sun Factor

Susan Eyre Sun Factor

Apparently around 10 supernovas happen every second, bringing home the vastness of the universe. Some comfort is that our sun is too small to explode in this way. Plasma makes up a lot of the universe but on earth the temperature is too cool – plasma occurs when something gets so hot the constituent parts of the atom separate. Plasma is considered the fourth state of matter. The three other states are solid, liquid, and gas.

1707 plasma 1.jpg

There is a new type of laser called maser – masers amplify microwave signals from space, it doesn’t add any noise as the photons are fired into a crystal which absorbs them, then releases them all at the same time in coherence so they have less interference – all nicely lined up and much more intense – they used to need to be cryogenically cooled to work but now they have made it possible using a crystal to make all electrons move in the same way. This is good for receiving weak signals from space like communications from the Mars Rover.

1707 Luci Eldrige Mars reconstructed

Luci Eldridge Mars reconstructed

Having been on the peripheries of Melanie King’s Phosphorescence workshops as part of Dark Matters Lab. it was interesting to try to understand how fluorescence works.

1707 Phoshorescence workshop

Southampton University were on hand explaining how fluorescence works in coral but I think the principle is always the same –  the fluorescent substance takes in blue light and emits light in a different colour at a lower energy, the electrons drop down in their orbits of the nucleus to base level and then move back up. The substance atom would usually have a coiled shape and the electrons get lost in the coils. Coral is a shell structure containing symbiotic algae and the fluorescence helps protect the algae from too much sunlight in shallow waters.

I enjoyed the ritual based symmetry of Benedict Drew’s The Trickle Down Syndrome installation at Whitechapel gallery. Ready to worship. Fearful of outcomes.

1707 Benedict Drew

A full day at the Science Museum assessing Robot Futures: Vision and Touch in Robotics a symposium hosted by Luci Eldridge and Nina Trivedi bringing together engineers, scientists, cultural theorists and artists to explore notions of embodiment and telepresence in the field of robotics and in virtual and augmented realities. It began with a tour of the current Robots exhibition followed by a demonstration of ROBOT DE NIRO by Dr Petar Kormushev of Imperial College Robotics Lab.

1707 Robot De Niro

This is when we learnt that although huge progress has been made robots are still pretty limited in what they can do physically. Great programme of speakers including  Gregory Minnissale: Nonlinear Vision and Touch in Art, Science and Technology; Joey Holder: Ophiux; Nea Ehrlich: Envisioning 21st Century Techno-Vision: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Machine Witnessing in Non-Fiction; Bianca Westermann: Robotic Presences: Encounters with the Artificial between Social Companionship and Embodied Representation; Ruairi Glynn: Animacy Aesthetics; Maya Oppenheimer: The Robotics Division of the Dramaco Instrument Company Introduces the Ensocellorator Reliance Pro II; Stephen Ellis (via Skype): On the character, scope, and meaning of the spatial user interface to Virtual Environments: its recent and deep history; Simon Julier; Nicola Plant and Jeremiah Ambrose: Systems of Seeing: Virtual Gaze Interaction.

Next stop the North East.

1707 CIMM install.jpg

 

 

 

Hito Steryl’s essay In Free Fall: A Thought Experiment on Vertical Perspective talks of groundlessness, the loss of a stable horizon  as we enter an age of remote viewing and constructed visualisations that can invoke disorientation and require acclimatisation to new perspectives. Gravity is explained by Einstein as the curvature of space time; we are constantly falling through space. A black hole occurs when a massive star runs out of fuel and collapses in upon itself, compacting its mass to be so dense it causes a deep pocket in space time so that anything falling into that hole beyond the event horizon has no chance of escape.

It may sound a little dramatic but when an event you have been focused on for so long is no longer on the horizon but you have passed into its gravitational field and are sucked into its vortex it can feel like free fall, you pass through so quickly and just keep falling.

At least we took some photographs on the way through. For many of these we are extremely grateful to Sara Lynd for capturing Laboratory of Dark Matters so expertly and considerately.

In the short space of time at Guest Projects between the Lab. Talks+ and the exhibition opening I worked on some images I had taken when running the cloud chamber.

1704 Open lab testing

The original intention had been to print images of cosmic particles from the cloud chamber onto acetate and fix them behind the etched aluminium plates on the dodecahedron frame, there would be a band of light inside that would rotate, scanning the universe.

1704 Open lab testing 2

In practise the cosmic particle images were lost behind the etched plates along with the open structure of the frame and the rotating light proved temperamental.

There was also a large expanse of wall available.

1704 Susan Eyre by Sara Lynd (5)

Susan Eyre The Forms photo Sara Lynd

The result was I have two works.

1704 Susan Eyre by Sara Lynd (1)

Susan Eyre Diazôgraphô photo Sara Lynd

The immutable truths Plato discovered in geometry belong to the realm of abstract thought he called The Forms. This is where ideals reside, outside the limitations of the physical world and where, if anywhere, paradise might be found.

1704 Susan Eyre

In visualisations of dark matter created from scientific data we see familiar organic patterns emerge; the fronds of dark matter spanning galaxies could be the spreading branches of trees or the veins under our skin.

 

1704 Susan Eyre by Sara Lynd (4)

Susan Eyre The Forms (detail) photo Sara Lynd

 

These projected shadows of The Forms that govern the structures of our universe invoke a primordial response. Plato suggested we harbour memories of universal truths in our souls.

 

1704 Susan Eyre by Sara Lynd (3)

Susan Eyre Diazôgraphô photo Sara Lynd

 

The exhibition suddenly came together.

1704 Yinka Shonibare (1)

We were honoured by a visit from our lovely and generous host Yinka Shonibare.

1704 Yinka Shonibare (2)

and really appreciated his interest and chatting about our individual responses to dark matter research

1704 Amy Gear by Sara Lynd (2)

Amy Gear Nudge photo Sara Lynd

Amy Gear’s digital video work projected onto suspended body parts was edited from footage of the Women’s Self Defence and Green Screen Workshop that explored the visibility of women in the universe and the anticipation of the nucleus of a Xenon atom being nudged by a dark matter particle.

1704 Amy Gear by Sara Lynd (1)

Amy Gear Nudge photo Sara Lynd

We enjoyed the way the works overlapped with each other.

1704 Daniel Clark 2 by Sara Lynd (3)

Daniel Clark Veil photo Sara Lynd

Programming a vinyl cutting machine to draw with a marker pen instead of to cut, Daniel Clark created Veil, a reimagining of the single line engraving of the Face of Christ, known as the Sudarium of Saint Veronica, by Claude Mellan from 1649.

1704 Daniel Clark 2 by Sara Lynd (4)

Daniel Clark Veil photo Sara Lynd

Daniel also installed Edge-work, a series of radio receivers delineating the space with sound waves being received or distorted by the interference of the human form.

1704 Daniel Clark 2 by Sara Lynd (5)

Daniel Clark Edge-work photo Sara Lynd

Every so often the words of U.S. defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld echoed through the space… ‘ there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know.’

In keeping with pinning down the unknowns is Peter Glasgow’s work.

1704 Peter Glasgow by Sara Lynd

Peter Glasgow The Indicators of Illusive Ideas photo Sara Lynd

Hints lie in the MDF stand and printed text, a DVD booklet from Game of Thrones. These are really props for a live performance when the text is richly spoken and like the text itself they make no claims to legitimacy.

1704 Luci Eldridge by Sara Lynd (1)

Luci Eldridge Untitled (Dark Matter, Reconstructed) photo Sara Lynd

Luci Eldridge’s 3D print with silver leaf, reflected on privacy screen, and scanned Germanium fragments isolated in the blackness of space take on metaphors of time-warp spaceships and thundering meteors.

1704 Luci Eldridge by Sara Lynd (2)

Luci Eldridge Germanium Fragments photo Sara Lynd

Sarah Gillett uses methodology borrowed from Private Investigators creating a detectives evidence board to map the history of a gold ring that began in supernova explosions billions of years ago, arriving on the earth through an asteroid bombardment and now sits on her mothers finger.

1704 Sarah Gillett by Sara Lynd (3)

Sarah Gillett The Case of the Gold Ring  photo Sara Lynd

The journey of the ring from raw element to love token brings the incomprehensible and the everyday together in a story we can relate to.

1704 Sarah Gillett by Sara Lynd (2)

It gives us pause to wonder at the origins of matter that surrounds us.

Kate Fahey takes us further into the subconscious

1704 Kate Fahey by Sara Lynd (1)

Kate Fahey Dark Adaptation (video still) photo Sara Lynd

How long does it take our eyes to adapt to darkness? What other ways of seeing exist?

1704 Kate Fahey by Sara Lynd (5)

Kate Fahey Optimistic photo Sara Lynd

What senses should we rely on? What role does intuition play?

1704 Kate Fahey by Sara Lynd (4)

Kate Fahey Divination Sticks photo Sara Lynd

Her video installation, live performance and emblematic sculptures draw on old forms of knowledge and refer back to the lectures of Rudolf Steiner to open a dialogue between ancient and modern technologies.

1704 Kate Fahey by Sara Lynd (3)

Kate Fahey Feelers photo Sara Lynd

There is a hypnotic allure created in the dark space where Melanie King’s Cosmic Ray Oscillograph operates. A laser light is sporadically jolted by a solenoid translating data from the LUX project to traverse a rotating disc coated in phosphorescent powder.

1704 Melanie King by Sara Lynd

Melanie King Cosmic Ray Oscillograph photo Sara Lynd

While we cannot see dark matter directly, only infer it indirectly from the spin of the galaxies and gravitational lensing we sense something is present and speculate its structure and role in the universe. Elizabeth Murton tests these theories, creating hand spun porcelain galaxies vulnerable to breaking apart, strung across the universe palpably supported by the threads of dark matter.

1704 Elizabeth Murton by Sarah Lynd

Elizabeth Murton Connective Matter photo Sara Lynd

End of residency Going Dark gathering begins

1704 Going Dark (9)

Late viewing opened with a performance curated by Kate Fahey. Tim Zercie, as spiritual scientist urges us to awaken, to open our eyes and our minds, to engage our senses and be transported aided by the mesmeric playing of uileann piper John Devine.

1704 Going Dark (7)

Peter Glasgow’s spoken contemplation on the commentaries that run alongside a process; the vagaries of trying to get close to something but failing.

1704 Going Dark Peter Glasgow (1)

Captivating storytelling in The Case of the Gold Ring from Sarah Gillett

1704 Going Dark (10)

Light dimming

1704 Going Dark (11)

Within that ordinary space were hidden the building blocks of the universe.

1704 Going Dark (12)

Dark matter allows structures in the universe to form by pulling matter into its gravitational field.

1704 Going Dark (8)

 

We decide to build a wall.

Add some signage designed by Daniel Clark and we are ready for our first Open Lab. at Guest Projects.

1704 Laboratory Open.jpg

The idea is that we work in the space and are open for visitors to drop in and see what we are up to and chat about the work and the ideas around dark matter research that we are investigating.

We set up a reading table and information hub with artist profiles, research material and info on Boulby Underground Laboratory   which we visited last spring to discover for ourselves this hidden world where dark matter research and experiments take place.

During the first two weeks at Guest Projects we ran workshops and tested ideas in the space.

Chroma-key body suits needed a test run from Amy Gear.

1704 Amy greensuit

Elizabeth Murton was considering dark matter as a connective material in the universe, setting up a tension of competing forces that may be as powerful as those of fission and fusion.

1704 Elizabeth Murton testing

I ran Cloud Chamber workshops.

1704 Cloud Chamber workshop.jpg

Thankfully everyone was able to ‘capture’ their own particle trails in the mini cloud chambers they made and were duly captivated by the tiny missiles they observed.

1704 Cosmic Trail 6

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.

1704 Cosmic Trail 8

It is a sealed environment containing a supersaturated vapour of pure alcohol, warmed at the top and super cooled at the bottom with dry ice.

1704 dry ice remains.jpg

Charged particles passing through the chamber cause the alcohol molecules to gain an electric polarisation and condense into liquid droplets which look like tiny airplane trails.

1704 Cosmic Trail 9

To see the trails the particles leave as they tear through the cloud it must be very dark with a bright light shining across the floor of the chamber.

1704 Cloud Chamber setup

The activity takes place very near to the base of the chamber just a centimetre or two deep.

1704 Cosmic Trail 5

There is so much activity going on and these particles are whizzing through us all the time.

1704 Cosmic Trail 4

It seems we shouldn’t actually see some of these visitors at all but due to the weird way special relativity works we do. Muons are typically produced around 15 km up in the atmosphere, a distance which takes around 50 microseconds to cross at the speed of light— this is over 20 muon lifetimes and so they shouldn’t be able to make it to the earth’s surface before they decay.

1704 Cosmic Trail 1

However, since they are travelling quite near the speed of light, time in their frame of reference is significantly dilated as seen by an observer on Earth, meaning that a significant fraction can, in fact, make it to the surface. I have to be honest I can’t get my head round this but I love the idea of a particle having its own time frame of reference.

1704 Cosmic Trail 3

As well as Muons we see particles from background radiation. Radioactivity is a random naturally occurring process.  Alpha particles are released by high mass, proton rich unstable nuclei. The alpha particle is a helium nucleus; it consists of two protons and two neutrons. It contains no electrons to balance the two positively charged protons. Alpha particles are positively charged particles moving at high speeds. Beta particles are emitted by neutron rich unstable nuclei. Beta particles are high energy electrons. These electrons are not electrons from the electron shells around the nucleus, but are generated when a neutron in the nucleus splits to form a proton and an accompanying electron. Beta particles are negatively charged. For the particle to cause a trail it must have a charge which will ionize the vapour as they pass through, we don’t see neutrinos as they do not have a charge.

1704 Cosmic Trail 2Once you have the right set up it’s surprisingly easy to witness this turbulent landscape with it’s own little microclimate.