1 December - 13 January 2008
Semiconductor (UK artists Ruth Jarman and Joseph Gerhardt) make sound-films that reveal our physical world in flux; cities in motion, shifting landscapes and systems in chaos. Since 1999, Semiconductor has produced several experimental films and live animations, exploring various digital and electronic processes. Central to these works is the role of sound, which becomes synonymous with the image as it creates, controls and deciphers it.
After sifting through the data vaults of solar astronomy during a fellowship at NASA’s Space Sciences Laboratory at UC Berkeley in 2006, Semiconductor brought together some of the sun’s finest unseen moments to create Brilliant Noise, an immersive, eleven metre wide moving image installation. The soundtrack of the piece revealed the hidden forces at play upon the solar surface and created a symphony of the sun by directly translating the brightness of the image into audio frequencies.
Semiconductor also exhibited two other films alongside Brilliant Noise. Magnetic Movie, an Animate Projects commission for Channel 4 in association with Arts Council England, illustrated the remarkable secret life of invisible interplanetary magnetic fields. Do You Think Science… was a short film that revealed the hidden motivations driving space physicists to the outer limits of human knowledge.
Semiconductor released a DVD catalogue, Worlds in Flux, to accompany the exhibition. Released by Fat Cat Records, it features work from the past five years before the exhibition and features specially commissioned re-mixed and alternative soundtracks for Brilliant Noise.
Semiconductor is UK artist duo Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt. In their art works they explore the material nature of our world and how we experience it through the lens of science and technology, questioning how they mediate our experiences.
By working with digital animation as a tool to transcend the constraints of time, scale and natural forces, they promote ideas of the world beyond human experience, questioning our very existence.
Brilliant Noise, a 10 minute film composed of thousands of NASA still solar images that Semiconductor turned into time lapse sequences, was developed for Fabrica as an 11 metre wide, surround-sound installation. After sifting through hundreds of thousands of computer files, made accessible via open access archives, Semiconductor were able to bring together some of the sun’s finest unseen moments. These grainy black and white pictures are usually cleaned up by NASA, hiding the processes and mechanics in action behind the capturing procedure. However, for Brilliant Noise, the selected images kept in their most raw form, revealing the energetic particles and solar wind as a rain of white noise. Most of the imagery was collected as single snapshots containing additional information, by satellites orbiting the Earth. These images were then reorganised into their spectral groups to create time-lapse sequences. The soundtrack highlighted the hidden forces at play upon the solar surface, by directly translating areas of intensity within the image brightness into layers of audio manipulation and radio frequencies.
Magnetic Movie & Do You Think Science…
Magnetic Movie and Do You Think Science… are short films which were inspired by interviews Semiconductor arranged with the scientists they met at the Space Sciences Lab. For this exhibition, the films were shown on large wall-mounted widescreen LCD screens situated in viewing rooms behind the large screen.
Semiconductor articulated their response to these interviews by visually representing magnetic fields within the setting of the space sciences lab to create a 5 minute film entitled Magnetic Movie, whose soundtrack combined the scientists’ verbal descriptions of these invisible force fields, with crackling audio recordings of electromagnetic signals from the earth’s ionosphere. Magnetic Move was an Animate Projects commissioned for Channel 4 in association with the Arts Council England.
Do You Think Science…
Do You Think Science… was a 12 minute ‘talking heads’ film where the scientists struggle to answer an unfathomable question, revealing the hidden motivations driving them to the outer limits of human knowledge. The full question (Do you think science can tell us everything?) is not revealed until well into the film. In an attempt to find meaning within the question, they open a Pandora’s Box of limitations within science itself, revealing their own philosophical confines. Issues of faith, medicine and the laws of matter are raised to illustrate the infinitely complex universe we live in.