This piece was my response to the Lumen Atina Residency, 2017.
'... Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken.'
Louise Beer - In the Beginning
For Green Man Festival 2017, Lumen were commissioned to create a new work, Eclipse, which re-imagined the total solar eclipse occurring around the time of Green Man but only visible in the United States, providing a collective viewing experience under the pine trees.
Over the course of the festival, the total solar eclipse installation was a site for reflection on myths and legends surrounding the total eclipse. From the Pomo’s who believed that a bear took a bite out of the Sun, to the Tewa tribe who believed that the angry Sun went underworld in a fit of anger, to inuits who believed that the Sun and Moon were chasing each other as part of an argument.
The piece was 2m in diameter, made of MDF and plywood. The surface is hyper reflec.tive fabric and the light used to illuminate it was a G-Spot. The piece was suspected 4m from the floor of the forest.
Collaboration with John Hooper, commissioned by Bluedot Festival 2017
Near the surface, a photon makes contact with the lens of an eye, where it is focused on a small spot on the retina. There, it is finally absorbed by a protein inside a cone cell, which sends an electrical signal to the brain and marks the end of the million year journey of a photon from the centre of the sun. The artists have produced a film of the result of physical light manipulation experiments, looking at light and interrupting the passage of photons, manipulating their pathways and combining a sound-scape to fully immerse the view in their world.
Gathering Light is a floor based installation that was a response to the time I spent in Italy on the Lumen Atina Residency, 2016.
The piece consisted of a large array of acrylic discs, from opal to black to reflective surfaces, arranged in a loose circle around a central small plinth covered in black anti reflective fabric. On the plinth sat a rotating prism. A pinspot light shone through the prism.
This piece was a study of the same light, falling onto different materials. This was a metaphor for humanities divergence of belief systems from science to Catholicism. For some, light means the divinity of God, for others it is a tool for unpicking the universe through scientific methods. Through these different systems we structure our entire internal universe.
In Baltic countries and central Europe, people historically believed that everyone had a personal star which fell upon his or her death. This led some to say such things as 'rest in peace' or 'may God guide you to a good path' upon seeing a meteor.
This piece of work represents two stars, fallen from the sky, found in the undergrowth, still living.
This piece was part of an event at the Bethnal Green Nature Reserve in collaboration with Phytology. The evening of Ivana Kupala celebrations included a Ukrainian tea ceremony, folk singing, an astronomy talk by Paul Hill, telescopes pointing to the sun, moon and planets, fern blossom hunt, wish doll & herbal crown making.
Ivana Kupala is an Eastern European summer solstice festival, dating back to pagan times and finds its origins in many European & Scandinavia cultures. This night historically marks the life cycle & passage of seasons, with the focus on celebrating life and fertility. Each festival incorporates various forms of divination and purification rituals, as medicinal herbs are deemed to behold stronger healing power on this night.
Image by John Hooper
Aries on the Horizon
Lumen and the British Science Association presented an evening of stargazing and celestially-inspired art on Saturday 18th March, as part of British Science Week 2017.
The British Science Association commissioned Lumen Studios to create an art installation especially for St Peter’s Church in South Somercotes. Lumen will presented an installation representing the constellation of Aries, which will be visible in the West of the night sky on Saturday 18th of March 2017 from 6PM, before appearing to dip below the horizon at 10PM.
Lumen are also keen to highlight the zodiac date for Aries, which begins on 20 March until 19 April. In the creation of this work, Lumen continue to be inspired both by scientific research and by exploring a range of cultural understandings based on visions of the night sky.
St Peter's Church is a redundant Anglican church in the village of South Somercotes, Lincolnshire, England. It is a designated Grade I listed building with a tall spire that particularly stands out amongst the flat landscape, and has been called "The Queen of the Marsh." It is currently under the care of the Churches Conservation Trust, who are also kindly supporting this project.
Photographic documentation of an installation.
In Saturating Blackness
'The night sky is part of our natural heritage. It is beautiful, it is awe-inspiring and being able to see it is a way for us to connect to the wider universe and understand our place in the natural world. If we lose that it is a shame because we have lost that direct connection with something much bigger than us and something that is very beautiful.” Marek Kukula, Royal Observatory Greenwich
This piece was created using an acrylic tube and black light absorbing material. This material is used inside the barrels of telescopes to absorb stray light.
When looking through the tube, a single blue dot is suspended in the darkness. The pale blue dot takes several seconds to appear to the viewers eye, after searching for meaning in the sculpture.
The piece intends to highlight the significance of all of the life that exists on planet earth, with a universal perspective. Keeping the crippling damage we are inflicting on thousands of species of life forms in focus, and natural habitats that shall never be repeated, we need to change the way we view climate change. It should not only be for our benefit that we change our patterns, but for every form of life on earth. Changing for our benefit will only repeat the mistakes we have made.
Through seeing the fragility of Earth from space, I aim to show each person who views the piece how horrifying our impact is. It has taken 4 billion years of life to get this point, on Earth. As far as we know, we are the only planet with life that has ever existed in the entire cosmos.
Light describing the edge of our atmosphere, and the darkness of space.
Photograph of light installation.
This piece uses scale to describe the unknowingness of our universe. We are still in our infancy of knowledge.
Museum of Sleep
Micro-Museum of Sleep, CitizenM Tower of London, September 2016
Melanie King and I curated the design and artworks on behalf for super/collider for the Micro Museum of Sleep in collaboration with Bompas & Parr.
Based on a Greek sleep sanctuary, the Micro Museum celebrates the science and significance of sleep through a variety of artistic mediums.
Marek Kukula / Sleeping In Space Dr Marek Kukula considers an astronaut’s experience of sleeping in space, looking at how zero gravity and constant challenges affect sleep onboard the International Space Station. For example, on the ISS, there are 16 sunsets and sunrises every 24 hours so an astronaut cannot rely on the sun to signal when it is time to sleep. Peer through the peephole into deep space, to see an astronaut hanging in the void.
Marek Kukula is the Public Astronomer at Royal Museums Greenwich, home of the Royal Observatory Greenwich and the Queen’s House art gallery. Marek graduated in physics with astrophysics from the University of Manchester in 1990 and in 1994 was awarded a PhD in Radio astronomy, based on research carried out at Jodrell Bank Observatory. His research interests include active galactic nuclei and the ways in which large galaxies and their central supermassive black holes have changed and evolved throughout cosmological time.
Olivia Bargman / Dreams Experienced by Gilgamesh This diorama depicts the dreams experienced by Gilgamesh, the Mesopotamian ruler of the city of Uruk. His mother, Ninsun was the goddess of dreams, wisdom and cows - she is has the role of the Seer, Explainer of Dreams. Ninsun explains Gilgamesh’s odd visions. Gilgamesh has a couple of disturbing dreams about a meteorite and an axe. Both objects he names “as a wife” to him. Ninsun interprets this as Gilgamesh meeting somebody who will help him on his quest to the cedar woods to conquer the monster, Humbaba. This help will come in the form of Endiku, the wild man, who was raised by wolves, who is part divine. In Sumerian stories like this one, the bull was a lunar symbol.
Olivia Bargman is a London based illustrator, often exploring narratives surrounding science and mythology. Clients include Jamie Oliver, The Wellcome Collection, Radio Netherlands and Barclays.
Alice Dunseath / The Stages of Sleep From the perspective of a closed eye, we explore the five stages of sleep. From light sleep to deep sleep and onto REM sleep and back again, we see an abstract interpretation of the sights and sounds we experience whilst in our restful dream-like state.
Alice Dunseath is a London based filmmaker and animator. She works with materials, liquids, chemicals, crystals or elements that have a life of their own. Choreographing them around the screen to music or sounds, she make visual poetry that encourages viewers to contemplate the bigger picture. She is an Associate Lecturer at Goldsmiths College, University of London and has screened and given talks about her work in film festivals, exhibitions (including the V&A, HERE TODAY... and Selfridges), and universities around the world.
Dr Simon Jones / You Are Asleep Neuroscientist Dr Simon Jones will take you on a poetic journey of the changes that happen in your brain from the moment you begin to feel tired, to deep REM sleep, via the hormone of darkness and full body atonia. His hypnotic voice will pull you into the blackness and allow your brain to begin it’s mysterious unconscious processes.
Dr Simon Jones trained as an auditory neuroscientist and is an associate editor at Springer-Nature. Simon graduated from Girton College at the University of Cambridge and was awarded his PhD at University of Nottingham. Simon lectures publically on auditory neuroscience, and a recent talk was focused on the acoustic and astronomical features of ancient monuments, considering how these architectural features attempted to evoke feelings of the sublime. Simon is also the in-house scientific advisor for the London based art collective Lumen, which focuses on the symbolism of light and sound in religion and its relationship to astronomical research.
Photography by Kitty Wheeler Shaw.
Seeing ourselves reflected in the sublime.
This is a photograph of a light installation.
schism ˈskɪz(ə)m,ˈsɪz(ə)m/ noun
A split or division between strongly opposed sections or parties, caused by differences in opinion or belief.
This piece was made from a photograph of a light I had made.
Force of Mortality
Commissioned by the British Library.
The British Library is home to one of the largest collections of recored knowledge in the world. It is a mirror to our pursuit of understanding ourself and our environment. Throughout history we have developed methods of recording information, from survival techniques right through to unravelling the complexities of our universe. With the inevitable fate of our planet, all of this knowledge and progress will disintegrate and cease to exist in any form. My question is, is this a cyclical event that has happened an infinite number of times before, and will it happen an infinite number of times in the future?
Mōna, the Moon, challenges the solitariness of reality. This connectedness can be embodied in another consciousness, and when this connection falls away, our understanding of experience must be reexamined. A light sculpture, seized via digital photography, or a sentient being, made of a trajectory of light, Mōna is an embodiment of radical otherness which we inescapably seek to personify. Its gestures are fulfilled with familiar human sentiments – like grief of a primordial separation, and longing for returning to one’s unidentifiable cosmic counterpart.
Eternity in Pitch Black
This piece was made in collaboration with the Oxford MRC Neuropharmacology lab at the University of Oxford.
To create this piece, I used fluorescently labelled brain sections prepared by Kouichi Nakamura. Kouichi’s research is on the thalamus, which is a key brain region involved in sensory perception and regulation of motor function. On these slides, a series of molecular markers had been used in a process called immunofluorescence to illustrate different (neuro)chemical architectures between thalamic nuclei to try and understand their function.
Throughout the collaboration, I took a series of microscopic photographs of different areas of the tissue sample to provide an optical illusion of a mythical location in space. The lenses of the microscope reflected humanities progress in the pursuit of unpicking the mysteries of the universe, micro and macro, but also highlighted the deterioration and destruction that we are inflicting on the only world we know of that harbours life in the enormous, expansive cosmos.
You can read more about this process here and here.
This was a collaboration between Oxford MRC Neuropharmocology lab and myself.
I used epifluorescent microscopic photographs of a rat brain as a starting point, to provide an optical illusion of a mythical location in space. This is my vision of the edge of the universe.