Open Tue 5th Oct – Thu 28th Oct 2021
Semiconductor was part of Stirling Science Festival 2021.
Semiconductor is UK artist duo Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt. Over twenty years they have become known for an innovative body of work, which explores the material nature of our world and how we experience it through the lenses of science and technology. They occupy a unique position in the art world, blending, in philosophically compelling ways, experimental moving image techniques, scientific research and digital technologies.
Man’s experience of the physical world is central to the work of Semiconductor; taking us beyond the everyday rigid, static matter bound by the limits of human perception. By extending vision, hearing, time and scale through the use of technologies, by transcending physical constraints, Semiconductor creates first person experiences. These disrupt our everyday assumptions about reality and encourage us to step outside our fixed vantage points in space and time, to experience places that are in a constant state of flux. Through a contemporary reworking of the sublime the work is at once both humbling and captivating.
Semiconductor’s works often evolve from intensive periods of research spent in science laboratories, including CERN, Geneva (2015); NASA Space Sciences Laboratory, UC Berkeley, California (2005); Mineral Sciences Laboratory, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (2010); and the Charles Darwin Research Station, Galapagos (2010). By examining the techniques and processes that each discipline employs to understand the physical matter of the world, Semiconductor reveal the flaws and ruptures within scientific data, exposing the human signature which is ascribed within scientific findings and emphasizes the presence of the observer. Through making visible the tools and materials used by scientists Semiconductor observes the work of the observers, drawing attention to the ways in which science mediates our experiences of nature.
Black Rain is sourced from images collected by the twin satellite, solar mission, STEREO. We see the HI (Heliospheric Imager) visual data as it tracks interplanetary space for solar wind and CME’s (coronal mass ejections) heading towards Earth.
Working with STEREO scientists, Semiconductor collected all the HI image data to date, revealing the journey of the satellites from their initial orientation, to their current tracing of the Earth’s orbit around the Sun. Solar wind, CME’s, passing planets and comets orbiting the sun can be seen as background stars and the milky way pass by.
Semiconductors work with raw scientific satellite data which has not yet been cleaned and processed for public consumption. By embracing the artefacts calibration and phenomena of the capturing process we are reminded of the presence of the human observer who endeavours to extend our perceptions and knowledge through technological innovation.
PARTING THE WAVES
Parting the Waves a moving image installation, takes the visual language and method of quantum simulations, as a framework for exploring how science describes and attempts to harness the quantum realm.
Semiconductor have taken as a starting point simulated ‘surface plots’: realised as three co-ordinate graphs, they present mathematical computations of particle interactions, in a quantum system. The plots appear as varying degrees of undulating waveforms, created by the intensity of particles interactions being affected by distance, over time. A pair of square screens installed at 90 degrees expands upon two moving image projections, becoming a graph-like object in the space, mimicking the system employed by scientists to present the simulations.
Sound drives the CGI work, generating and animating visual waveforms. Starting with Hertz: the standard unit for measuring frequency in cycles per second, specific tones have been selected which create harmonies and dissonances, to play with notions of phasing, shifting and interactions in a quantum system. As the tones shift, disturbing the system, so it responds visually, producing varying degrees of amplitude, wavelength and frequency which result in complex interference patterns. The colours are representative of the coding system scientists use, to identify specific parameters or patterns when model making.
Visual and audible noise is used to introduce the concept of coherence and de-coherence in a quantum system: the point at which a systems behaviour changes from that which can be explained by quantum mechanics to classical mechanics. Other details hint at mathematical tools and terms associated with the phenomena of quantum systems such as; superposition, entanglement and wave functions.
Quantum simulations are approximations of nature that are modelled and then compared to other models, to gradually build up a picture of the phenomena being studied. The layers of modelling are a language by which scientists can communicate their findings and get closer to nature. Semiconductor are interested in the extent to which these tools and scientific products bear man’s signature. By making a work where you experience nature through the language that is made to study it, they want to question how our experiences of nature are mediated through science.
Parting the Waves was created through a FEAT (Future Emerging Art and Technology) Residency. FEAT is an initiative of eutema GmbH (AT), Stichting Waag Society (NL), and youris.com (BE). It has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 686527 (H2020-FETOPEN-2015-CSA).
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