computer generated hi definition projection

dimensions variable depending on site

  • 26-28 August 2010, Skyway 10, Torun Poland
  • 9-13 August 2011, Skyway ’11, Torun, Poland
  • 22-25 September 2011, Valgus Festival Tallinn, Estonia
  • 17-20 November, 2011 Lumiere, Durham
  • 10 July to 11 August 2012 Kickarts Contemporary Art Space, Cairns, Australia
  • 15 and 16 November 2012, Kings College, Cambridge, Cambridge Music Festival, UK

“Space is not empty. It is full, a plenum as opposed to a vacuum, and is the ground for the existence of everything, including ourselves. The universe is not separate from this cosmic sea of energy.”
David Bohm, Wholeness and the Implicate Order

Plenum is series of computer generated real-time architectural light projections that were displayed festivals and exhibitions in Europe, the UK and Australia in 2010, 2011 and 2012. The first iterations of this work were commissioned by Mario Caeiro, for  the Skyway  Festival, Torun, Poland, 2010. Subsequent versions were co-commissioned by Mario Caeiro and Artichoke, a London based commissioning organisation for an EU funded project, Lux Scientia.

It comes out of a fascination with fundamental processes of nature and is based on a series of my drawings that depict states of matter at very small scales. These drawings were based on the illustrations of crystal lattices found in solid-state physics textbooks. The projection cycle of Plenum is underpinned by a perfect grid of dots arranged in a crystalline matrix, new dots begin to appear forcing the surrounding dots apart so that after 15 minutes the entire grid is pulsating, swaying and liquefying with particles popping in and out of existence. The top layers of the grid begin to disintegrate into a gaseous state shooting off in seemingly random trajectories so that the projection runs a full sequence from a frozen state of absolute order through increasing entropy to a state of complete chaos.

I have always been impressed by symmetries between the macro and the micro. Plenum plays with the fact that the physical world is an illusion in some ways, an atom is not a thing, it is a set of energetic relationships inhering in space. If the nucleus of an atom were the size of a grape, the electrons would be specks of dust orbiting at radii of several kilometres. But of course nuclei and electrons are not things either, they are vibrations, perturbations, they are events or locations of experience to use the terminology of process philosophy. The vast emptiness of inner space mirrors that of outer space. What we perceive to be the physical world is not best thought of as a collection of things, particles or building blocks but as a field of relations, the fundamental aspect of nature is a process, a sequence of events, any illusion of solidity or permanence is merely the product of what Joyce Carol Oates called a “temporary agreement among atoms” Plenum is a world of transience, of emergent fleeting pattern, our bodies are only patterns that happen to be stable enough for our life span and of course this stability is precarious, cancer and other disruptions can cause catastrophe.

"My body, which I perceive as substance, is in fact an organisation of infinitely complex, overlapping , imbricated structures, radiant light their manifestation, the ‘body’ a tall column of light and blood-heat, a temporary agreement among atoms" Joyce Carol Oates

Plenum questions the separateness of the points so that they are perceived as a field of events rather than a collection of separate entities just as what we perceive as physical bodies in the cosmos are manifestations, concretions of the created order held in dynamic balance with each other by gravity, electromagnetic and nuclear forces depending on what scale they occur at. In terms of the implications of quantum theory these fragments popping in and out of existence could be said to be a system containing all possible worlds, latently waiting to manifest.

Plenum plays out as a creation myth, a meditation on the relationship between the created world and creator. It can be read on material, cognitive and spiritual levels. Its crystalline grid is a plenum from which phenomena with increasing levels of complexity, relatedness and freedom grow. A perturbation at one point in the grid ripples out to all other points in the grid. The particles transmit and receive from each other. The imperfections could be seen as self-awareness and autonomy awakening out of a universal atman, or alternatively, out of the pre-human lesser cognition of animals. Plenum attempts to apprehend the sense that this intelligence, this free will is our gift to use for good or ill and the calamitous history of humanity is the price for that freedom. The created order of the natural world is also necessarily free so that evolution and higher life forms like us can come into being and become creators ourselves. The laws of nature have provided the conditions for us to exist that include plate-tectonics, dynamical weather systems, tsunamis, tornadoes etc. Creative freedom cannot exist without risk.

Plenum was developed in close collaboration with composer Rob Godman and computer artist Nick Rothwell. We aligned the soundtrack and animation sequence to the same code so that there was a perfect mapping of sound and vision. The projection occurred in real time, being non-linear and self-generating: each cycle had different outcomes determined by the code parameters.

Related Links
  • BBC interview
  • Lux Scientia website
  • The Future of European Collaboration Symposium
  • Science Art and Belief Symposium
  • Plenum on St Oswalds Church, Durham
  • Interview with BBC Arabic
  • Plenum on Kings College
Related Texts
  • BBC News: King's College Chapel illuminated for Cambridge festival (16 November 2012)
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