Archives for posts with tag: horizon

2010 at a distance

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

2010 VisionsLeaflet_Digital-2

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

2010 Visions Nye Thompson

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

2010 at a distance 2

In At a Distance solitary figures using semaphore flags sign ‘We Are One’ out across the ocean. Filmed on 29th March 2019, the first date the UK was supposed to leave the EU.

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

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

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

2009 featured image

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

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

Walking East at dawn.

2010 East 1

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

2010 East 2

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

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

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

2010 symmetry

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

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

1810 freezing bubble

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

2010 membrane filming

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

2010 membrane 22010 membrane 1

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

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

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

2010 particle trail

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

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

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

2010 stargazing

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

2010 Laure Prouvost

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

2010 Carsten Holler

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

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

2010 Icarus BFI

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

2010 heather phillipson The End

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

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

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

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

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

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

2010 Trevor Paglen 7

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

2010 Trevor Paglen 1

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

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

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

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

2010 Robert Good

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

2010 Elizabeth Price 12010 Elizabeth Price 22010 Elizabeth Price 3

2009 paradise suspended

Paradise (suspended) 

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

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

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

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

2009 paradise suspended 2

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

2009 STELLARIUM HD70642

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

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

2009 Puppis

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

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

2009 gopro

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

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

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

2009 parakeets

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

2009 deer

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

2009 membrane 32009 membrane 22009 membrane still

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

2009 At a distance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2008 Among the trees 15

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

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

2008 Pando

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

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

Ways of Listening | Complicité

2008 complicite zoom

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

2008 David Bohm

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

2002 St Augustine's Tower

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

2002 magnetoreceptor wip 1

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

An additional meaning to birds eye view.

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

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

2002 naked mole rat

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

 

 

 

2002 dark skies forest

 

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

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

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

2002 UCL Observatory

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

2002 spectograph Kitt Peak Observatory

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

2002 horizon

The true horizon is usually hidden.

2002 horizon sea

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

My height of eye = 1.5m + local elevation

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

2002 iris for etching

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

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

2002 plastic

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

2002 paradise suspended

Out of studio.

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

200219 new contemporaries

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

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

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

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

2002 habitat of time

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

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

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

2002 mirrors

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

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

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

2002 Stephanie Moran

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

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

2002 Cutty Sark

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

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

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

 

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

2002 manifold library

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

2002 manifold Gina DeCagna

 

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

 

 

 

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

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

2002 marbling

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

2002 mushrooms (3)

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

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

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

2002 William Blake

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

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

“Spectral Latham pre-deceases William Blake,

      while both magicians,

burning like thermal lances, are numbered among

     the chain of stars.

Curved light reaches through infinitely extended

   quantum crumbs,

Planck time, to a black metal box that flattens,

   swept by paper waves,

into a cemetery suburb on the hill. Angelic incidents

   are reported”       Iain Sinclair