Future Thinking Manifolds

Future Thinking Manifolds, carbon drawings series, 2023

A1 plotter drawings, custom programming, carbon

Future Thinking Manifolds is a series of multi-dimensional drawings created using programming, carbonated card and a computer plotter, exploring the ways in which humankind seeks to position itself in relation to notions of time and attempts to envisage the future. 

Taking the UK Government Office for Science ‘The Future’s Toolkit’ as a starting point – a set of techniques which have been employed to enable policy makers to effectively think about the future – words or phrases relating to time and the future from psychology, physics, government research, science fiction, and the artists’ own reflections, populate a set of pseudo-scientific diagrams. 

Each term on the diagram appears on its own plane, with no one concept privileged over another. Freed from their contexts and notions of value they invite a process of inquiry, whereby words and phrases can be weighed up against each other, and new narratives formed or existing ones unpicked. They suggest knowledge which is in flux and open to interpretation. 

Through the act of hand-picking their reference points from a variety of disciplines and systems of knowledge-making, Semiconductor emphasise the subjective nature of the gathering and editing process, raising questions around whose voice is heard and who is best placed to imagine potential futures.

By using Calabi-Yau Manifold geometries depicting possible extra-dimensions, Semiconductor propose an expansion on our everyday experiences of time and space, reflecting research’s suggested importance of the human capacity for abstract thought when thinking about temporally distant futures.

Created through a placement at the UK Government Office for Science, within the future thinking team (Futures, Foresight and Emerging Technologies) as part of the MANIFEST programme.

Reference List:  

The Futures Toolkit, Tools for Futures Thinking and Foresight Across UK Government, Government Office for Science, Edition 1.0, November 2017

The Future: RAND, Brand and Dangerous to Know
Beck, J. 2016. The Future: RAND, Brand and Dangerous to Know. in: Beck, J. and Bishop, R. (ed.) Cold War Legacies: Systems, Theory, Aesthetics. Edinburgh University Press. pp. 35-49

The Psychology Of Thinking About The Future: Edited by Ganriele Oettingen, A, Timur Sevincer, and Peter M. Gollwitzer, The Guilford Press

The Ezra Klein Show – New York Times Opinion, podcast, Why Sci-Fi Legend Ted Chiang Fears Capitalism, Not A.I. : Podcast, December 2021

Professor Danielle Faccio, Professor in Quantum Technologies, Royal Academy of Engineering Chair in Emerging Technologies, Leader of the Extreme Light Group and Director of Research for the School of Physics and Astronomy., University of Glasgow. In conversation with Semiconductor 2023

Dr Maria Chiara Braidotti: Research Associate in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Glasgow. Extreme Light Group, University of Glasgow. In conversation with Semiconductor 2023

Semiconductor: Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt in conversation July 2023.

Future Thinking Manifolds, carbon drawings series, 2023

Future Thinking Manifolds, Bloc Projects, Sheffield, 2023

Future Thinking Manifolds, Bloc projects, Sheffield, 2023

Future Thinking Manifolds, Bloc Projects, 2023

Future Thinking Manifolds, Bloc Projects, Sheffield, 2023


Helicase, 2023

2023, kinetic sculpture (brass, motors, gears, programming)

Helicase is a permanent site-specific sculpture created for the library at UK artificial intelligence company DeepMind’s headquarters, Kings Cross, London. 

Taking as its point of departure the Double Helix, a scientific symbol embedded in our collective consciousness, Helicase consists of a vertical array of horizontal brass pendulums which rotate slowly to generate interrelating wave-forms in a double-helix formation.

The winding and unwinding motion of the pendulums, a sequence of actions which is realised through a simple algorithm, mimics the way that Helicase enzymes spin DNA to replicate it. 

The rod and ball pendulums, similar to those used in scientific wave-form modelling machines, play with our visual perceptions while our brain attempts to read the shifting forms, reminding us of   the human tendency towards pattern recognition, one of the key foundations of AI machine-learning. 

Commissioner: DeepMind

Curator: Modus Operandi

Fabrication: millimetre

Helicase (detail), 2023

Helicase, 2023

Helicase, 2023

Helicase, 2023



Morphogenic Movements

Morphogenic Movements, Novartis Pavillon, 2022. Photo credit: iart

2022, Real-time generative animations for media façade

Morphogenic Movements, is a series of three real-time generative animations which transform the Novartis Pavillon media façade into a self-organising system. Through the generation of cell-like forms which emerge from visual noise, the artwork explores self-organisation as a contemporary scientific method for understanding complex systems as coherent wholes. 

Self-organisation refers to the emergence of an overall order in time and space of a given system, that results from the collective interactions of its individual components. This concept has been widely recognized as a core principle in pattern formation for multi-component systems of the physical, chemical and biological world, from galaxies to living cells. Historically much of the success of the sciences has relied on a reductionist approach, in which complex systems are taken apart to examine the individual components and how they interact.

By employing algorithms which generate noise and feedback loops, the real-time animations simulate conditions associated with naturally occurring self-organising systems. Within this ‘environment’ we have encouraged the manifestation of properties observed in the dynamic evolution of these systems, such as spontaneous formation of patterns, unpredictability, waves and oscillations, so that the way the forms move, evolve and interact, feels organic, constantly shifting and mutating. Through the correlations and fluctuations of these processes order emerges from chaos, in the form of cell-like patterns, which are observed in many underlying structures of the natural physical world, particularly in biological life-forms.

Morphogenic Movements was commissioned for the Novartis Pavillon zero energy media façade. The façade is made from a network of 30,000 LED cores, powered by 10,000 energy-generating solar panels that light up at night.

The Novartis Pavillon is a learning, event and exhibition space in Basel on the Novartis campus, and is the first building on the site that is open to the public.

Commissioned by Novartis. Curated by Sabine Himmelsbach, HEK Basel.

Media Façade designed by iart with AMDL Circle.

Morphogenic Movements, Novartis Pavillon, 2022. Photo credit: iart


Morphogenic Movements , Novartis Pavillon, 2022, simulation.

Morphogenic Movements, Novartis Pavillon, 2022, simulation.


Morphogenic Movements, Novartis Pavillon, 2022. Photo credit: iart

Spectral Constellations

Spectral Constellations (video documentation excerpt), 2022

variable dimensions / generative animations on LED mosaics
A Semiconductor work by Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt.

Spectral Constellations is a series of generative animations, driven by scientific data of young stars. This data, collected by scientists using a method called Spectroscopy, creates an understanding of structures around distant young stars, where gas and dust come together to form planets. Scientists study the light this matter emits using prisms to split it into its constituent wavelengths, revealing its elemental make-up. By analysing this data over time, spatial formations of the matter can be decoded.

Semiconductor have worked with this spectral data as a physical material, translating it into rings of light which resemble the gradiated discs of planetary and stellar formations. As the data ebbs and flows it introduces a sense of form and motion, waveforms merge and interfere revealing patterns and rhythms, and engage our human tendency towards pattern recognition. The fragmented LED mosaics provide partial windows from which the spectral data shifts and shimmers to create a raw visual experience.

Spectral Constellations was commissioned through a residency with the Planet Disk Connection group and DJCAD at the University of Dundee, Scotland. It has received funding from STFC (Science and Technology Facilities Council), “The planet-disk connection”, (grant number ST/S000399/1) and “Reading between the lines”, grant number (ST/V002058/1).

Thanks to the European Space Observatory archive ( whose spectral data was used in this artwork.

Special thanks to:
Aurora Sicilia Aguilar, University of Dundee
Justyn Campbell White, University of Dundee
Adam Lockhart, University of Dundee

Read about Semiconductor’s residency with the Planet Disk Connection group at University of Dundee here.

Acquired for the VU Art Collection – Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands, for permanent display in new research building.

Acquired by University of Dundee for their art collection.

Spectral Constellations, Creating the Commons, VU Gallery Amsterdam, 2023 (photo: Gert Jan van Rooij and the gallery)

Spectral Constellations, Creating the Commons, VU Gallery Amsterdam, 2023 (photo: Gert Jan van Rooij and the gallery)

Spectral Constellations, Mills Observatory, Dundee, Scotland, 2021 (photo: Malcolm Finnie)

Spectral Constellations, Schafhof European Art Forum Upper Bavaria, 2023


HALO video documentation, Art Basel, 2018

installation / various
A Semiconductor work by Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt.

HALO is a large scale immersive artwork which embodies Semiconductor’s ongoing fascination with how we experience the materiality of nature through the lens of science and technology.

Taking the form of a large cylinder, the structure houses a 360-degree projection of scientific data while an array of 384 vertical wires are played by the same data, to produce the sound. The work draws the viewer into its centre in order to inhabit the results of particle-collisions, produced by experiments taking place at CERN, in Geneva, Switzerland.

The physics performed at the ATLAS detector probes and enhances our current understanding of the building blocks of matter and their interactions, contributing to new theories that better describe our universe. Semiconductor are the first to have received permission to work directly with raw data generated by the experiment. By using this data, the artists seek to convey the signature of the technology, the mark of the architecture of the experiment, or the presence of the scientist’s voice. They confront the viewer with the data before it has been processed for scientific consumption.

For many years the notion of engaging with scientific data as an artistic material has been central to the practice of Semiconductor, with a particular interest in how such information represents physical phenomena that exist beyond the limits of our daily experiences. Their projects stand as scientific and technological mediations of nature, giving data a physical form that transcends the matter it represents. The artists highlight the ways in which our experience of nature is influenced by technology and media, and ultimately question our place within it.

HALO has been conceived as an experiential reworking of the ATLAS detector, its experiments, and its data sets. The rotated cylindrical form and multiple cables are reminiscent of the architecture of the apparatus. The assemblage is suggestive of the technology and craftsmanship associated with scientific endeavour. Each collision in ATLAS occurs at close to the speed of light. Semiconductor have re-animated 60 of these, slowing time down immeasurably to reveal time in the ordinarily static data. Through doing this we are given space as viewers to analyse the mass of data. We naturally start to look for and see patterns in the data, and are given a sense of the immense task at hand for the scientists, in capturing, reading and processing the data.

Scientists often describe the particle collisions occurring at the LHC as recreating conditions thought to have existed in our universe shortly after the big bang; here Semiconductor have made an immersive experience of matter formation in the early universe that’s framed through the technological and scientific devices that are developed to study it. We are invited to consider the philosophical problems of our mediated understandings of science and of nature, while submitting ourselves completely to their technological sublime.

HALO was commissioned by Audemars Piguet for Art Basel 2018
Curated by Mónica Bello
In collaboration with CERN

HALO was fabricated by millimetre and Polyspace in collaboration with the artists.

Special thanks to:
Mónica Bello
Ash Brosnan
Dave Charlton
Matthew Ridsdale
Mark Sutton

Winka Angelrath, ATLAS collaboration, Frédérick Bordry, Julian Calo, Anita Hollier, Antonella De Santo, Steve Goldfarb, Peter Jenni, Rolf Landua, Stefano Maddelena, Andrew McPherson, millimetre, Sally Jane Norman, Matthew Ridsdale, Halldor Ulfarsson, Julian Weaver, Pippa Wells.


Film by Semiconductor documenting the making of HALO


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

CAST_Logo 1 and 2

The View from Nowhere

The View from Nowhere (still), 2018

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

The View from Nowhere is a single-channel moving image work which explores humankind’s place in nature through the science and technology of CERN, the particle physics laboratory in Geneva.

Driven by an interest in the material nature of our physical world and how we experience it through the lens of science and technology, Semiconductor go looking for the techniques that are developed at CERN which ask fundamental questions about nature, and the languages which ensue to make sense of it.

Through juxtaposing discussions around the application and processes of theoretical physics with filmed footage in CERN’s hi-tech workshops, Semiconductor explore the dichotomy that is revealed between the surprisingly creative pursuit of theoretically modelling our physical universe and the fixed/hard classical nature of producing instrumentation to test these notions. It reveals a sense of the scientific frameworks we develop to explore matter beyond the limits of human experience, whilst raising questions about our place in the larger nature of reality.

The title The View from Nowhere refers to the philosophical concept that science should remain an objective analysis of the natural world, if it is to be seen as having value.

The View from Nowhere was co-commissioned by Arts at CERN/ FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology, Liverpool)/Le Lieu Unique, Nantes, France.

Special thanks to:

Luis Álvarez-Gaumé 
Arts at CERN
Mónica Bello
René Brun
Engineers and technicians of the Large Magnet Facility CERN and ERN workshop
Panos Charitos
Michael Doser
John Ellis
Gian Giudice
Lucy Harris Editor
Anita Hollier
Rolf Landua
Sebastien Luzieux
Michelangelo Mangano
Matthew McCullough
Pierre Moyret
Jeremi Niedziela
Brian Powell
Frédéric Savary
Matteo Solfaroli
Davide Tommasini
James Wells