artworks

Where Shapes Come From

Where Shapes Come From (still), 2016

2016
9:00 / 9:50
two channel HD + single channel HD
A Semiconductor work by Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt.

Where Shapes Comes From is a moving image work which considers how science translates nature, on an atomic scale.

Filmed in the mineral sciences laboratory at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, a scientist goes about his daily work in rock and mineral preparatory labs; cutting up large meteorites and preparing mineral samples for scientific study. Accompanying this, mineralogist Jeff Post describes the coming together of atoms to form matter. He details formations of organised structures and patterns as if they are happening in real-time, in front of our eyes, transcending time and space.

Raw seismic data, collected from the land forming Mariana deep sea trench, has been converted directly into sound and controls computer generated animations, which are composited into the labs. They depict interpretations of visual scientific forms associated with atomic structures, and the technologies which capture them. Sitting alongside these animated formations are hand-made assemblages of discarded materials and other curiosities, which now bear human signatures. They unite in bringing a sense of playfulness and personal touch to the ordinarily rigorous framework of science.By combining these scientific processes, languages and products associated with matter formation in the context of the everyday, they become fantastical and strange encouraging us to consider how science translates nature and question our experiences of the physical world.

Filmed at the Mineral Sciences Laboratory, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Washington D.C. during its 100th year.
Audio made from Mariana Trench seismic data courtesy of the IRIS (Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology) Network.
Dialogue: Jeffrey E. Post, Geologist, Curator in Charge, Mineral Collection, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Washington D.C., U.S.A.
Scientist: Jonathon Cooper

Supported by Arts Council England.
Co-commissioned by EDP Foundation and Phoenix Leicester.
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Band 9

Band 9, Pump House Gallery, London, 2015. Photo: Pump House Gallery/Photo Eoin Carey

2015
installation of 9 light boxes / various sizes
A Semiconductor work by Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt.

Images Courtesy Pump House Gallery/Photo Eoin Carey

Band 9 is an installation that considers nature within the framework of science. Nine light boxes show scientific cloud data, which have been captured from space by a remote sensing satellite, orbiting the Earth. Using optical sensors it collects reflected light in various wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum. By focusing on very thin slices of these, scientists can pinpoint individual phenomena such as the band we see here, which is designed to reveal high-altitude clouds called Cirrus.

In this instance, scientists are not interested in the clouds themselves, but in removing their shadows and wispy texture from their data: whose presence obscures the real information they are trying to collect. Semiconductor have embraced these redundant images for their power to offer new ways of seeing a familiar place. Re-contextualised in this way and bearing the signatures of science, the images have become a kind of technological sublime.

What we see in the images is dictated by the capturing technology; the satellite scans in 115 mile wide swathes orbiting the earth from north to south and anything beyond the dedicated wavelengths is swallowed into a black void. The angle the light boxes are installed reflects the incline the data has been captured and archived at. By presenting the raw satellite data using techniques informed by the capturing technology Semiconductor are, exploring how technologies that are made to study nature, mediate our experiences and understanding of it.

Band 9 is commissioned by Pump House Gallery, London.
Data available from the U.S. Geological Survey.

Catching the Light

Catching the Light, video documentation, ArtScience Museum, Singapore, 2014

2014
multi-channel HD moving image with 6 metre wide Alucore screens
A Semiconductor work by Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt.

Catching the Light is a moving image installation which explores how science and technology frame our experiences of the natural world.

Created using visual data collected by space telescopes, the six metre wide projection is made up of thousands of images which have been assembled to create time-lapse sequences. By collaging these images of space together, Semiconductor have disrupted their original spatial relationships, to create new patterns and points of reference. They have, in effect, remapped the sky.

By collecting the data in its rawest form Semiconductor are able to present it as the telescope captured it. Ordinarily scientists would remove any noise, anomalies or signatures of the technology associated with the capturing process, but Semiconductor have embraced these artefacts, using them to remind us of how our perception of deep space is framed by the tools and processes of science.

The shape of the screens reflect the space observatories’ image capturing process: as they photograph chosen parts of the sky, the trail of images produce assorted shaped arrays, which are then used as points of reference in the data archives. Semiconductor have combined three of these arrays in their native format to make the screen composition. Used in this way they become portholes or windows into the universe, they also suggest that what we are seeing is only a part of a much larger picture.

The screens are installed away from the wall to create floating objects. The aluminium composite material used to fabricate them is commonly used in the production of scientific objects sent into space; as well as being light weight and strong it typically bears its honeycomb innards revealing its workings.  The matt black surface of the screen resonates with how scientists and engineers use the mattest of blacks in the production of space optics to absorb unwanted light.

The four channel sound runs along the width of the screen, shifting as events appear and disappear. Using the luminescence of the image to create and control sound, the visual events carve a sonic space out of a field of noise, producing a singing universe of harmonic tones, reminiscent of radio telescope data translated into audible frequencies.

Semiconductor are interested in how technology, made to study nature, mediates our experiences and understanding of it. Here, by employing the products of science they have created an interpretation of deep space framed by the technology that is made to capture it, leading us to question what we are experiencing.

Catching the Light is commissioned by ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore for Da Vinci: Shaping the Future exhibition, 2014-2015.
Data obtained from the Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes (MAST) 
Programmer Julian Weaver

Currently fundraising for production of single channel version. If you’re interested in supporting this please get in in touch.

Play of Light

Play of Light, 2014, video documentation

2014
site specific two-channel moving image work
A Semiconductor work by Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt.

Play of Light is a site specific, two channel moving image installation commissioned for the newly renovated brutalist Chichester Festival Theatre. Incidental in nature, this art work explores Moya and Powell’s architectural vision through animated sequences of projected light and shadows.

The shadow sequences move slowly but perceptibly as if cast by time-lapse animations of the sun or passing vehicles. As the light source moves, layers of the architecture interact and shift across each other, producing animated shadows. Caused by the phenomena of motion parallax they abstract the architecture, to create new forms and shifting patterns. The slow motion of the shadows allow for contemplation of these choreographies, as they morph and merge to reveal the natural rhythms of the architecture.

Working with a digital architectural model of Chichester Festival Theatre, Semiconductor created an artificial sun, which they animated to cast time-lapse shadows through the building. By physically deconstructing the model into many scenes, they have created multiple time-lapse sequences, which offer new and familiar viewpoints through the building, encouraging a reconsideration of the architectures formal aspects.

Motion introduces a new dimension to the architectural stage, literally bringing the building to life. By transforming the enclosed static condition of architecture to one which is open and dynamic, Semiconductor have made a kinetic sculpture on an architectural scale, which alters our experience of the building.

Optical nuances of light have been mimicked to create an authentic play of shadow and light; subtle phenomena such as blurring, bleeding and visual noise have been employed to play to the eyes sensitivities. Colours within the fabric of the building have been mirrored in the work and expanded on as a play on theatrical stage lighting: the building has become performer.

The digitally animated shadows are projected onto two interior rough concrete walls, which mirror each other. Each wall has its own distinct projection which explores each scene from a differing angle. The shadows appear as if they are being cast in situ: echoing elements of the surrounding environment, they fall incidentally on the walls.

Play of Light was commissioned by Chichester Festival Theatre, UK.

Some Part of Us Will Have Become

Some Part of Us Will Have Become (still), 2012

2012
03.00 minute TV edit + 05:45 minutes
HD single channel
A Semiconductor work by Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt.

Some Part of Us Will Have Become is the lament of a lone robot bearing witness to a human-made disaster. Made using internet streams captured during the Deepwater Horizon disaster Semiconductor have created a science fiction, narrated by the voice of a remotely operated vehicle. Whilst declaring hopelessness and despair it attempts in vain to quell the disaster, systematically arranging human-made debris. Overwhelming in enormity, the endeavour ends……without success…

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Some Part of Us Will Have Become is commissioned by Channel 4 and Arts Council England. Curated by Jacqui Davies and Mike Stubbs for Random Acts.
Text by Rowena Easton
Music by Hildur Gudnadottir. Published by Touch Music (MCPS).

Worlds in the Making

Worlds in the Making, FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology), Liverpool, UK, 2011. Photo: Brian Slater

2011
23.00 minutes
3 channel HD
A Semiconductor work by Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt.

Worlds in the Making is an epic three channel moving image work that explores how we observe, experience and create an understanding of the physical origins of the world around us. By appropriating the tools and processes of volcanology to re-interpret the primordial landscapes of our volcanic planet, Semiconductor create a world slightly removed from the one we think we know, disrupting our every day assumptions of reality and questioning how science affects our experience of the natural world.

In the work the use of audio investigates our relationship with the physical, scientific and ephemeral nature of sound. Seismic data collected from beneath volcanoes and translated into audio evokes images of rocks crunching and grinding below the Earth and is used as a sculptural tool to generate elaborate CG animations of matter forming as mineral crystals. A scientist’s dialogue appears to guide us through extraordinary landscapes while Oren Ambarchi’s composition overwhelms as it brings an emotional connection to place.

The viewer is transported through dystopian landscapes, strangely exquisite animations, fantastical vistas, and natural phenomena to a world between science fiction and science fact.

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Commissioned by Jacqui Davies and FACT, Foundation for Art and Creative Technology.Supported by Arts Council England. Gulbenkian Galapagos Artists Fellowship. Smithsonian Artists Research Fellowship.

Credits:

Music by Oren Ambarchi – Published by Touch Music (MCPS)
Richard S. Fiske – Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Mineral Sciences Department: for his oratory skills, field notes and methodical tephra sorting.
Ellen Thurneau – Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Mineral Sciences Department.
William G. Melson – Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Mineral Sciences Department: for his audio recordings of Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica erupting.
Jonathan M. Lees, Professor of Geological Sciences, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA. For his seismic data collected at Tungurahua volcano, Ecuador which features in the work..
Gregory P. Waite, Assistant Professor of Geophysics, Michigan Technological University, USA. For his seismic data from Fuego Volcano, Guatemala and Mount St. Helens, Washington, USA.
Jorge Ordonez at Instituto Geofisico, Quito Ecuador
Adam and Miriam at Instituto Geofisico, Quito Ecuador
Global Volcanism Program, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Dennis Geist, Professor of Geology at the University of Idaho, USA
Gorki Ruiz at Instituto Geofisico, Quito Ecuador
Instituto Geofisico Volcano Observatory, Tungurahua, Ecuador
Scientific paper: Liquid Sulfur at Volcan Azufre, Galapagos Islands by W.E. Colony and Bert E. Nordle, 1973. Charles Darwin Research Station Library, Santa Cruz, Galapagos, Ecuador.
Produced by Jacqui Davies.

preview of Worlds in the Making installation – to watch HD full screen double-click the image

 

Inferno Observatory

Inferno Observatory (preview), 2011

2011
various lengths
multi-channel SD
A Semiconductor work by Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt.

Inferno Observatory is a multi-channel moving image work that explores humankind’s complex relationship with natural phenomena. During a fellowship at the Mineral Sciences Laboratory in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Washington DC, Semiconductor unearthed a 16mm volcano film archive shot by volcanologists in the field, it reveals spectacular occurrences and curious, obsessive and sometimes absurd processes of observing and studying volcanoes.
In the work, these films have been re-contextualised to emphasise and examine three distinct relationships; the erupting volcano as all-powerful and humbling, the spectacle as people gather to watch in collective amazement, photograph and be photographed and the taming of the volcano through scientific probing, measurement and human endeavour.

Archive footage courtesy of Mineral Sciences Department, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Washington DC. Commissioned by Jacqui Davies and FACT, Foundation for Art and Creative Technology. Supported by Arts Council England. Smithsonian Artists Research Fellowship.

Credits

Global Volcanism Program, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Scientists films, film archive.
Music by Peeesseye.
Andreas Bick, sound recording of Mt. Yassur Volcano, Tanna Island, Vanuatu.
Professor Willy Aspinall, Earth Sciences, Bristol University, UK. For his audio recording ‘St Vincent 1979’.
Jonathan M. Lees, Professor of Geological Sciences, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA. For his seismic data collected at Tungurahua volcano.
Gregory P. Waite, Assistant Professor of Geophysics, Michigan Technological University, USA. For his seismic data from Fuego Volcano, Guatemala and Mount St. Helens, Washington, USA.
Produced by Jacqui Davies.

Inferno Observatory video documentation, FACT, Liverpool, UK, solo show, 2011

Indefatigable

Indefatigable (still), 2010

2010
07.08 minutes
HD single channel
A Semiconductor work by Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt.

A team is at work dissecting what appears to be a simple bush. The examination is carried out with such conviction and reverence, towards something which is seemingly so mundane, that the whole process appears quite absurd.
The focus becomes the actions and techniques employed; through observation and simple measuring devices they document their findings, communicating with subtle gestures, with only a few numbers and mumbles exchanged.
Sitting somewhere between science documentary and fiction, this work reflects on how we as humans construct methods to learn about the physical world around us.

Filmed during a Gulbenkian Galapagos Artists Residency. Thanks to Charles Darwin Foundation, Jorges Luis Renteria, Claudio Crespo, Eliana Boontti and Veronica Toval.
Premiered at Venice Film Festival 1-11 September 2010

Heliocentric

Heliocentric (excerpt), 2010

2010
15:00 minutes
HD single + multi-channel versions
A Semiconductor work by Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt.

Heliocentric uses time-lapse photography and astronomical tracking to plot the sun’s trajectory across a series of landscapes. The entire environment feels to pan past the camera whilst the sun stays in the centre of each frame, enabling us to gauge the earth’s rotation and orbit around the sun. As the Suns light becomes disrupted by passing weather conditions and the environment through which we encounter it, it audibly plays them as if it were a stylus.

It is usually all but impossible to visualize how the earth moves around the sun, even though we know it to be true. Instead we ‘see’ the sun move around us. The ‘heliocentric’ view of the universe was debated from the third century BC onwards and remained contentious into modern times.

Shooting into the sun creates many intriguing artifacts; lens flares and glare spill over the landscape, white outs burn the image, and colours bleed into one, creating aureoles. The power of the sun still exceeds what both the human eye and the artificial eye of the camera can bear. And whilst our knowledge of the universe is ever-growing, we can only encounter and know it from our own humble vantage point.

Heliocentric is co-commissioned by AV Festival + Northern Lights Film Festival, UK.

 

 

Black Rain

Black Rain (excerpt), 2009

2009
03:00 minutes / 17:00 minute loop
Single channel + installation
A Semiconductor work by Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt.

Black Rain is sourced from images collected by the twin satellite, solar mission, STEREO. Here we see the HI (Heliospheric Imager) visual data as it tracks interplanetary space for solar wind and CME’s (coronal mass ejections) heading towards Earth.

Working with STEREO scientists, Semiconductor collected all the HI image data to date, revealing the journey of the satellites from their initial orientation, to their current tracing of the Earth’s orbit around the Sun. Solar wind, CME’s, passing planets and comets orbiting the sun can be seen as background stars and the milky way pass by.

As in Semiconductor’s previous work ‘Brilliant Noise’ which looked into the sun, they work with raw scientific satellite data which has not yet been cleaned and processed for public consumption. By embracing the artefacts  calibration and phenomena of the capturing process we are reminded of the presence of the human observer who endeavours to extend our perceptions and knowledge through technological innovation.

Many thanks to: Chris Davis and Steve Crothers at the STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, UK + Stuart Bale and Steven Christe at Space Sciences Lab UC Berkeley, USA

Documentation of Black Rain at Earth: Art of a changing World, Royal Academy, London 2010

Magnetic Movie

Magnetic Movie, 2007

2007
04:47 minutes
HD single channel
A Semiconductor work by Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt.

The secret lives of invisible magnetic fields are revealed as chaotic ever-changing geometries . All action takes place around NASA’s Space Sciences Laboratories, UC Berkeley, to recordings of space scientists describing their discoveries. Actual VLF audio recordings control the evolution of the fields as they delve into our inaudible surroundings, revealing recurrent ‘whistlers’ produced by fleeting electrons . Are we observing a series of scientific experiments, the universe in flux, or a documentary of a fictional world?

An Animate Projects commission for Channel 4 in association with Arts Council England.
Shot at the NASA Space Sciences Laboratory, UC Berkeley, California, USA.

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Many thanks to the following people:
Bill Abbett, David Brain, Bob Lin, Janet Luhmann, Stephen Mende, Forrest Mozer, Ilan Roth and Paul Thompson.
Also big thanks to the CSE team at the Silver Space Sciences Lab. UC Berkeley, USA.
VLF Recordings: Stephen P.McGreevy

Awarded the Nature ‘Scientific Merit Award’ by Imagine Science Film Festival, New York, 2009.
Purchased by the Hirshhorn Museum, Washington for the permanent collection, 2008.
Awarded ‘Best Film at Cutting Edge’ at the British Animation Awards, 2008.
Special Mention, ‘Best International Experimental Short’ at Leeds International Film Festival, 2008. Awarded ‘Best Experimental Film’ at Tirana International Film Festival, 2007.

Acousticity

Acousticity (still), 2006

2006
02:40
HD single channel / surround sound
A Semiconductor work by Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt.

Acousticity is a site specific animation commissioned by Prague Contemporary Art Festival, June 2006 as part of the show In a Silent Way: Susan Philipsz, Mark Bain, Carl Michael Von Hausswolff, Semiconductor, Martin Janicek, Yuji Oshima and Paolo Piscitelli. Curated By Daniele Balit.

During many excursions around the Czech capital, Semiconductor photographed and recorded the sights and sounds of the city; reaching from the suburbs and its factories to the city’s famous medieval centre. Each section of the film is controlled and animated by the sound that was recorded in situ at time of the photography, creating a physical connection between the images and the audio. The animated photos bring to life the fabric of the city using resonance to open a window onto the physicality of the structures themselves. The buildings appear to be exploding with energetic particles leaving it unclear whether we are looking at time speeded up, or an unseen moment in time.

Earthquake Films

Earthquake3
Earthquake Films (still), 2000

2000
09:35
SD single channel
A Semiconductor work by Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt.

Songlines sung by an earthquake. This was an early live experiment performed at one of Semiconductors’ E.M.I. (Electro Magnetic Interference) events in Brighton, 2000. It also formed part of a DVD-Rom section in Hi-Fi Rise, Semiconductors’ first DVD release in 2001.