Archives for posts with tag: Kader Attia

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.

1710 The Publications

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.

1711 Wil Murray

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.

1711 Blade Runner 2049

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.

2011 Alma Thomas

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.

1711 Ilya and Emilia Kabakov

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


Gaining knowledge is a thread woven through my current thinking for my dissertation. From the first knowledge of conscious thought – that we are separate from nature, the temptation of the tree of knowledge and its consequences, to self knowledge through the grand Romantic quest and the furthering of knowledge to pass on to future generations.

Kadar Attia – Continuum of Repair: The Light of Jacob’s Ladder at Whitechapel Gallery was interesting to me because of the focus given to the value of knowledge.

Books as receptacles of history.

Kader Attia _ The Light of Jacob's Ladder

Kader Attia   The Light of Jacob’s Ladder

The shelves which rise up to the gallery ceiling are full of books with evocative titles and inspiring covers from science, anthropology, politics and physics – they are mostly in French though so for me the knowledge they contain is frustratingly inaccessible. Attia talks about repair as a principle of evolution and development – that we plug holes and fill gaps – holding it all together with sticky tape. I enjoyed seeing the physical manifestation of knowledge. The internet holds so much and offers so much so quickly but the material sight of so many books is uplifting.

Kader Attia

Kader Attia

The installation at Whitechapel is about conveying knowledge from different ideologies, it refers to Michel Foucault – The Archeology of Knowledge and uses the symbolism from Christian, Islamic and Judaic traditions of a ladder of light – a link between the terrestrial nad the celestial. Within the installation the telescope and the microscope embody two alternative ways of looking at the world.

Revelation through scale.

Simmons and McCollum 'The Actual Photos'

Simmons and McCollum ‘The Actual Photos’

This collection of portraits by Laurie Simmons and Allan McCollum manipulate scale through photography – enlarging the tiny to life size.

These melting features are portraits of model railroad figures used to add human presence to the constructed landscapes of the hobbyist.

Simmons and McCollum 'The Actual Photos'

Simmons and McCollum ‘The Actual Photos’

A land of the disfigured is revealed. Disrupting the symmetry and expectations of the human face.

Hannah Hoch also uses this approach of disruption of the human form to pose questions about our inner humanity – it’s amazing to think when she was making this work – the early work, particularly in the 1920’s how different the world was and yet how the same. Like the ever on-going topicality of Shakespeare – we struggle with the same issues in every generation – money/power, image, gender. It still seems so fresh though I found the volume of works at her Whitechapel  retrospective a bit overwhelming.

Hannah Hoch

Hannah Hoch

I joined the RCA school trip to see The Negligent Eye exhibition at The Bluecoat Gallery in Liverpool curated by our own RCA head of printmaking Jo Stockham

– she questions;  ‘scanning is riddled with an internal contradiction: is it a close reading or a glance?’

The artists in this show all use some form of scanning, experimenting with translations across digital media into various print processes

Maurice Carlin

Maurice Carlin

Endless Pageless is performance screen printing on a vast scale. The surface of the gallery floor is recorded though an analogue scan; the pressure of the screen over paper on the floor gradually building up the image in coded blocks.

Rebecca Gossling

Elizabeth Gossling

Gossling scans from a computer or tv screen with a hand held recording device which results in a distorted image that highlights the waves of transmission – like the image on the edge of tuning in to a channel, you are aware of the process.

A feeling reminiscent of having one of those little tellys with a bent wire ariel – not going to happen with a digital signal.

Christiane Baumgartner

Christiane Baumgartner

Also taken from the screen Baumgartner translates the media image from tiny pixels to giant woodcut

Juneau Projects

Juneau Projects

Hand held scanners traversing the lawn

Helen Chadwick

Helen Chadwick

viral attack

Bob Matthews

Bob Matthews

A reimagining of the landscape, Bob Matthews  explores architecture within the environment, painting by pixels

Jo Stockham

Jo Stockham

value, discarded and reborn

Jo Stockham

Jo Stockham

Some good thoughts on the show at

The book ‘Keywords’ by Raymond Williams was recommended to me by my tutor Faisal Abdu’Allah when we were discussing the etymology of words and personal interpretations of paradise or utopia.

The guiding principle in the composition of Keywords was to look at historical changes in the meaning of 109 key words, in order to bring out the significance of the facts of these changes. As Williams put it in the book’s Introduction:

This is not a neutral review of meanings. It is an exploration of the vocabulary of a crucial area of social and cultural discussion, which has been inherited within precise historical and social conditions and which has to be made at once conscious and critical – subject to change as well as to continuity.

While in  Liverpool we visited the Keywords exhibition at the Tate. The idea offered really interesting possibilities, juxtaposing works from the Tate’s collection with keywords from the book.

Some good work but the strange display with blocks of carpet and the words in giant cursive script on the walls destroyed any magic the theme evoked.

Keywords Tate Liverpool

Keywords Tate Liverpool

Another school trip was to see the David Hockney prints at Dulwich Picture Gallery.

It wasn’t something I would have gone along to myself but I enjoyed the humour in his early etchings done while at the RCA and our technician Alan Smith was able to show off his knowledge of the etching process

David Hockney - A Rake's Progress

David Hockney – A Rake’s Progress

Some fragments of Rue de Paradis

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Paradise – prison

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or sanctuary

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a place of false riches

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a place to be wary who you trust

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like reaching for a reflection

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always unattainable

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While in Paris also had a look at the Unedited History of Iran exhibition at The Musee D’art Moderne

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Behdjat Sadr

Behdjat Sadr

Was captivated by the surreal images in the video installation of Parviz Kimiavi – a mixture of Oz and world pollution, will the good fairy come to save us all from drowning in our own filth

Parviz Kimiavi

Parviz Kimiavi

Parviz Kimiavi

Parviz Kimiavi

Parviz Kimiavi

Parviz Kimiavi

does the yellow brick road end here

Parviz Kimiavi

Parviz Kimiavi

‘Office of Investigation into Diverted Trajectories’ – the dead birds

Narmine Sadeg

Narmine Sadeg

This was poetic

Narmine Sadeg

Narmine Sadeg

Also while in Paris visited the vast installation at the Grand Palais” by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov.

We came across the exhibition by chance but it turned out to explore many of the themes I am currently interested in.

Ilya’s background is questioning the totalitarian regime of his childhood in soviet society – in the end he believes every -ism ends in disaster so there is no point in trying to build Utopia in reality – better to keep it in the realm of the art-world.

Ilya and Emilia Kabakov  'Strange City'

Ilya and Emilia Kabakov
‘Strange City’

In exploring the maze of the city the viewer is exploring the dreams of individuals that are shared across all nations

'Stange City'

‘Strange City’

The installation is made up of many buildings. There is the empty museum reflecting a yearning towards the sacred as a shrine to our values.

There is the model mythical Tibetan city where the world is in duplicate – one celestial, one terrestrial but it is not known which is heaven and which is earth.

'Strange City'

‘Strange City’

There is the centre for cosmic energy built on an archaeological dig uncovering a time when contact was established with alien life.

'Strange City'

‘Strange City’

Instructions on how to meet an angel.

'Starnage City'

‘Strange City’

The artists are not religious but like many people still hope for miracles.

Axisweb ran a competition for curators to select work from their database for a theorectical exhibition.

It was a nice surprise to find Laura Dennis won the competition with one of my pieces included in her selection for her proposal ‘Synthetic Landscapes’



She writes: ‘In the screen print StrataGem(ii), Susan Eyre has created a mesmerising image of geological strata using items of plastic landfill. Shimmering, iridescent layers of waste packaging form the imagined rock structures and gemstones of a distant future. Despite its apparent beauty, the image is unsettling: it prompts us to contemplate the far-reaching impact of human activity upon the earth, and a legacy in which the man-made and natural worlds have become indistinguishable.’

My themes have shifted slightly since I made work with a more ecological slant. Still interested in the human connection to nature I have been looking at a more emotional relationship.

From my research into the stimulus for the first conscious thought, when man looked at nature and found it ‘other’ I have been thinking about basic instincts. The line between civilization and savagery.

I went back to an image I found on the internet a couple of years ago when I was making the installation ‘Syndrome’ of a guy in his room posing almost naked with guns and weapons strapped to his body.

I felt he might embody the contemporary wild man. I have gone back to the source of the image and found he has become a meme with many postings and comments.

This furthers the idea of identity and illusion. Someone on the edges of society.

Through a laborious process of drawing and soft-ground etching with aquatint I have placed him into the ancient forest of all our origins.

Forst drawing printed onto thin paper

Final drawing printed onto thin paper

I polished a steel plate and added the photo etching around which I would draw the forest.

Soft ground (a sort of wax) is rolled onto the plate and the paper drawing is placed on top.

The pressure of the pencil on the paper pushes into the wax beneath. I used coloured pencils to see where I had drawn.

Drawing into soft ground using coloured pencils

Drawing into soft ground using coloured pencils

After the dark areas are drawn over, the paper is peeled away, the wax sticks to the paper leaving the metal exposed for etching.

The plate is etched in acid, then placed back under the paper and drawing continues to add midtones.

Soft Ground Peel

Soft Ground Peel

The paper is peeled away and more drawing is done and etched until the range of tone is acheived

Peeling away paper from plate

Peeling away paper from plate

Between each drawing and etching the plate is printed to see how the tones are looking and which areas need more work.

A dusting of aquatint added a final depth of tone.

Test print

Test print

I wanted the forest to appear dark and primordial, the forest of Grimm brothers imaginination

Final print - Forest of Eden

Final print – Forest of Eden

Not the Garden of Eden but the land before, of after, the garden existed.