Friday, November 16, 2012

Music about Radioactivity: Radioactive Orchestra

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Using models from collaborating nuclear physicists, on how specific isotopes emit gamma radiation, media artist Kristofer Hagbard created an algorithm to translate this to music, and Axel Boman created songs based on melodies and sounds from the software Via the project webste:

The musical and artistic ambitions is about exploring a world that is not available to our senses and finding musically interesting pattens and to render them in a way that both resonates with popular culture while staying close to the subject matter.

The pedagogical aspect aims to inspire young people to learn about the natural sciences by making one of its most hidden phenomenas available in a new way and exposing complexity and beauty in the strange world of the atomic nuclei – using music.

I love the idea of making the ever-present though always changing ambient radiation audible and something we can sense. The physicists make the point that the general public tends to think ionizing radiation, these strong photons emitted, are unnatural, or something only associated with nuclear technology, when in fact, radiation is everywhere. Our Earth is filled with radioactivity and even our own bodies emit some radiation. By translating the frequencies of photos emitted by any given isotope to cascades of musical frequencies (or pitches) not only are they providing a means to think about this unsensed presence, but something lovely to listen to as well.

You can play with the software too, creating music from you favorite isotopes! It even allows you to export the music you create.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Chemistry Set Decor

Have you noticed that beakers, test tubes, and other vessels more traditionally ubiquitous in the chem lab seem to be finding their way into art and home decor?

Ensemble Chimisterie. Crédit Photo Nicolas Louis. Source: via minouette on Pinterest

Scientific borosilicate glassware created by students in the glassblowing section at the Lycée Dorian in Paris, was the jumping off point for Élise Fouin's exhibit "Chemisterie" (or "CheMystery"), currently showing at the Granville Gallery in Paris. She reworked the glassware, which otherwise was headed for the scrapheap, to add new forms and functions. She writes of converting glassware confined to the lab into an everyday object.

Sometimes the chemical vessels are disguised, or whimsical, like these porcelaine versions of graduated cylinders with extra farm animals.

You can purchase the porcelaine cow and pig vases at cokas diko home & garden.

Or consider this chemical tea set, the 'Kemikus service set' by Art.Lebedev Studio, complete with biohazard symbols, and a traditional Russian pattern:

Then, who can forget the test tube chandelier, 'Marie S.C.' (named for Marie Curie, or Marii Skłodowskiej Curie) by Polish designer Pani Jurek? The simple, yet very clever design, allows the owner to customize the test tubes in any way they can imagine.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Crafting Remembrance

As we approach Remembrance Day, I am thinking about art about war, and memorializing the lost.

'HMS Kimberley' by Vanessa Rolf, 'Poems to the Sea' series, 2012. 210cm x 104cm, cotton canvas and thread Source: via minouette on Pinterest

Vanessa Rolf, His lowly grave, 2012. 55cm x 40cm, canvas and thread

Textile artist Vanessa Rolf's series 'Poems to the Sea' 2009-2011 includes quilts and needlework documenting naval warfare in WWII. Her beautiful tapestries and quilts, on inherited canvas, and in their limited colour palette of blues and whites, are quite evocative. The HMS Kimberley above, was a Royal Navy K-class destroyer, which was one of only two of its class to survive the war. The pieces below shows the name of all German vessels which did not survive and a memorial to the sailors who died for France at Mers el Kabir in 1940.

Inherited patched canvas embroidered with the names of German battleships sunk during World War 2. 170cm x 105cm. Canvas and thread.

Vanessa Rolf. Mers el Kebir,2012. 45cm x 40cm, cotton and thread

I wrote previously (Juxtaposition and Craftivism) about the power of contrasting media (in artworks which have been traditionally deemed 'craft' and even sometimes 'women's work') with implements of war and violence. Remembrance Day is not only a day to give thanks to those who gave up their lives, and surviving vetrans who served their nation in times of war, but to recall the horrors of war and the senselessness of violence. We also mustn't forget the thousands of civilians lost to wars. This brings to mind two other artists, who have created works about and with weapons.

British artist Magnus Gjoen "often questions the correlation between religion, war, beauty & destruction in his art," and plays with making extremely destructive weapons beautiful and fragile.

Magnus Gjoen, Delft Machine Gun, Digital. Source: via minouette on Pinterest

Magnus Gjoen, Flowerbomb, Digital Vexel art

Magnus Gjoen, AK-47 Concert of Birds, Digital Vexel art

Mexico-city based artist Pedro Reyes has created a series of 50 musical instruments called 'Imagine' working with 6,700 guns seized by the Mexican government related to gun violence and the drug war in the country. He is constrasting their new, modified, potential to create beautiful music from their violent pasts. Almost 80,000 people have lost their lives to gun violence in Mexico over the last six years and the project serves as requiem. He writes, "It’s important to consider that many lives were taken with these weapons; as if a sort of exorcism was taking place the music expelled the demons they held, as well as being a requiem for lives lost."



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