As the World Turns

As the World Turns (still), 2018

single channel
A Semiconductor work by Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt.

As the World Turns is a moving image science fiction, which explores humankind’s place in time and space, through the science of radio astronomy.

Filmed at Goonhilly Earth Station, a satellite communications site in Cornwall, England, As the World Turns visually explores the location through hand-held camera footage, creating an intimate experience and suggesting the presence of a human observer. We are given an impression of the sites history, the achievements once gained, future endeavours and of technology and nature co-existing. The film provides a sense of the human firmly grounded in the landscape, yet looking out into space, framed by our view from the Earth and the technology developed and employed to create an understanding of it.

The narrator endeavours to find her place in the physical universe. Weaving together the personal, technical, philosophical, and profound: scientific descriptions, observational diary-like entries, existential reflections, natural philosophies and rambling declarations. Whilst switching between objective and subjective viewpoints, she explores the different voices the human race employ to interpret the natural physical world.

Working with radio astronomers from CUGA (Consortium of Universities for Goonhilly Astronomy) Semiconductor have accessed and visualised raw radio astronomy data, which extracts information about the formations of stars and can be used to learn about the origins of the universe. The data reveals the human signature in the capturing process through visual artefacts, noise and interference in the radio signal, and is used to raise philosophical questions about how we experience nature through the languages of science and technology.

The monologue has been informed either by elements associated with the science and history of radio astronomy, ideas of measurement and human interpretation, or quoted directly from scientific writings. For example; References to the ‘first dish popping and banging’ were drawn from a publication by the Radio Society of Great Britain, titled Amateur Radio Astronomy. Giving a history of the science, it describes Grote Reber building one of the earliest radio astronomy parabolic reflectors in his back yard near Chicago, U.S.A. Reber described how great volumes of water pouring through the central hole during a rainstorm caused rumours among the neighbours that the machine was for collecting water and controlling the weather; descriptions of “observational studies of young circumstellar discs” were quoted directly from the science paper ‘Planet Earth Building-Blocks – a Legacy e-MERLIN Survey’; and lists of fauna found at the Goonhilly site form part of the Cornwall Council report on Goonhilly Downs as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The more discursive elements such as “How do we know when it makes sense?…”  are reminiscent of Buckminster Fuller’s voice, as he looks to the future and asserts his own world view.

Goonhilly Earth Station is in the process of transforming its original 26 metre antenna into a radio astronomy receiver. It will form part of the UK e-MERLIN network of radio dishes making it one of the most powerful radio telescopes in the World.

e-MERLIN data courtesy of Professor Melvin Hoare and Dr Katharine G. Johnston (University of Leeds). e-MERLIN is a National Facility operated by the University of Manchester at Jodrell Bank Observatory on behalf of STFC

Filming and sound: Semiconductor
Editor: Lucy Harris
Writer: Rowena Easton
Narrator: Rena Valeh
Music: Sarah-Jane Summers

Producer: Teresa Gleadowe
Assistant producer: Vickie Fear
Production assistants: Elsa Collinson and Josie Cockram
Accommodation: Kestle Barton

As the World Turns was commissioned by CAST for Groundwork in Cornwall in 2018
Produced by CAST

Groundwork was organised by CAST (Cornubian Arts & Science Trust) in partnership with Tate St Ives, Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange and Kestle Barton and was funded by an award from Arts Council England’s Ambition for Excellence scheme, with support from Freelands Foundation, Ampersand Foundation, Quercus Trust, Outset Contemporary Art Fund, Cornwall Council and Kestle Barton Trust.

As the World Turns was supported by funding for Groundwork from Arts Council England.

With assistance from:
Goonhilly Earth Station Ltd
Consortium of Universities for Goonhilly Astronomy (CUGA)

Special thanks to Teresa Gleadowe, Professor Melvin Hoare, Shaun Richardson
Thanks to: Dr Robert Beswick, Paula Bolton, Paul Dobbs, Dr Mark Gallaway, Goonhilly Heritage Society, Dr James Geach, Ian Jones, Dr Rob La Frenais, Des Prouse, Dr Mark Thompson, Piran Trezise

The script for As the World Turns contains extracts from the following:
Planet Earth Building-Blocks – a Legacy e-MERLIN Survey (PEBBLES)

Cornwall Council report on Goonhilly Downs as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) notified under Section 28 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981, as amended, 1993

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