Another synchrotron experiment

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From the post-lightbridge archives, a truly analogue data experiment, acoustically manifesting the synchrotron tune in-situ, punctuated by detection of stray particles of cosmic and other origins.

Another hallway at CERN

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hall_2aq

Down this hall was Tim Berners-Lee’s office (where the www began).

Accelerated Light

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A model, or ‘machine study’, of the accelerating structures in the Australian Synchrotron Light Source, developed during my 2010 “Synapse” residency. The piece is essentially an accelerating video of a physical model,  with “harmonic” points where the speed of the rotation appears to becomes stable, or stationary, at other points, complex stroboscope-like forms and seemingly impossible motions emerge. Such effects are based upon events I witnessed at the Australian Synchrotron, where the individual electrons in the accelerator ring were literally moving forwards and backwards at the same time. In essence the work explores the relationship between the observer and observed, and how phenomena can be counter-intuitive in particle physics experiments. The title of the work is a play upon Einstein’s edict that light itself cannot accelerate – its velocity is constant, it is the ultimate speed limit of the universe, and everything else accelerates towards it.

Lightbridge / machine study no. 4

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‘Lightbridge / machine study no. 4’. This is another variation of the works created during the Synapse residency, a kind of model of the synchrotron itself in two forms, digital and physical. The installation uses a rotating 3D print sculpture of the synchrotron, which modulates light passing through it which is audiovisually fed back into itself. In other words, a video projector plays feedback onto the spinning sculpture from a video camera focused on the sculpture. To start the piece up, a light had to be shone into the camera, akin to how the synchrotron itself is fed source energy. Photodiodes turn the light into sound. On the wall behind the physical model is a digital animated model of the synchrotron, which uses scientific modelling and beam simulation software, tweaked to provide dynamic and impossible energetic events.

‘Lightbridge’ was exhibited at the UNSW College of Fine Arts’ Kudos Gallery, as part of ISEA 2013.

Lightcurve

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‘Lightcurve’ is one of several projects developed during the synapse residency. It is a visualization of the heart of the Australian Synchrotron, created with light captured from the synchrotron, and using processes analogous to those employed by the scientists. However, it does not seek to illustrate or define exact properties, it is more an expression of my perceived feel the physics. The work also expresses the subjective and personal tension of being in an ultimately unknowable realm – moving along a path but knowing you will never get to the destination.

‘Lightcurve’ was exhibited at the ‘Synapse: a selection’ group exhibition, at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, 2013, as part of ISEA 2013.

Lightbridge remix

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From the ‘Lightbridge archives’, this is an ‘expressive remix’ of documentary footage taken during the Synapse residency, made during a particularly slow and difficult part of the residency process. The soundtrack is a remix of ‘Slo Accelo’, a virtual synth composition I made on the train trips to and from the site, mixed with ‘magnetic field’ recordings from the interior of the synchrotron.

Meanwhile…

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PosterAtCERN

A hallway at CERN, through which 7 years has passed…

Time for a flashback

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or What I did at CERN all those moments (months) ago.


I went to CERN in September (as noted below), with Mark Boland from our ‘baby’ synchrotron and Roger Rassool, from the Melbourne Uni Physics Department. And what did I do? I sat in the CERN cafe for a few days getting free Internet access. I listened to people talking about what to spend this years 90 million budget on. I drank coffee. I listened to other people complaining that they had just suffered huge budget cuts (in other words, it’s just the same as in any organization (at least on some levels)). I also talked to a few physicists, a documentary maker and curator, and a public relations officer. I  had  discussions with some of the physicists about art and science, based on questions given to me by my Art vs Science students at the Victorian College of the Arts’ Centre for Ideas (and videoed the physicists’ remarks, to play back to the students). I told this to the public relations officer, who told me I was not allowed to video anything unless their legal department approved it first. I told this to the documentary maker who laughed and said that it’s just the same as in any organization.


Unlike my first visit to CERN, where we were taken right into the heart of the Large Hadron Collider (see youtube video and filter article), I did not get to see any of the experimental setups. I had hoped to see the test facility for CLIC (the Compact LInear Collider) the even bigger ‘sequel’ to the LHC, currently being built. However, as it was actually working at that point, nobody could go and see it (as there’s dangerous radiation shooting out of it). So the most exciting part of my CERN excursion was getting lost in the labyrinthine hallways of the scientists offices one evening when we were trying to find our way out. I did capture some of this on video, to which I have added the sound recording of some of my discussion with one of the chief scientists’ response to the VCA students’ questions about whether the LHC could be used to make music and dance choreography with. And there’s also a few cosmic particles thrown in there too (courtesy of the CERN visitor centre cosmic particle detector / viewer)

Another interesting moment during my CERN experience was a dream I had there. I was working in an experimental accelerator lab with some of the synchrotron scientists, then we were wandering the hallways which seemed to be folding back on themselves. We became lost within the complex, until we found an airlock. We went through and came out in some infernal burning landscape filled with warring armies of Hinduesque deities. “Oh no!” I exclaimed. “We’ve opened a doorway into another dimension!” (and then, in the tradition of so many bad stories (and movies), I woke up)

Video of CERN labyrinth

lightring

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a visual experiment done in a kind of desperation, created out of light and data and forms taken from the synchrotron… if only this kind of thing could happen in realtime.
anyway, I’m escaping to Perth to go do the ANAT Domelab workshop.

click image to see animation

Locked in the basement

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I have spent the last few weeks in the basement of the Physics building at Melbourne Uni.

Why?

Now I’m not so sure, at the time there was talk of learning MATLAB in an easier-to-get-to location. Since then there has been a lot of interesting discussion with some of the other people down here in terms of the what/how/why of my project. I have done a few matlab tutorials and learned a few basic graphing functions. But it would take at least a science degree to learn it properly. But there are other projects going on down here too, lots of things flying around in the air. And there is so much stuff all around on every surface, like being in the mind of a mad scientist. But then there is the saying – a clean desk is the sign of a sick mind. It is a very different space from the sterile sci-fi future-world at the synchrotron. It gives me ideas about energy, fields and entanglement, whilst entangling my ideas like a whorl of cables.