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SCIENTIFIC MACHINERY


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Welcome to issue number two of , the quarterly magazine that delves into the world of art science crossover. This issue focuses on Scientific Machines both big and small; From the Large Hadron Collider to microbial incubators, we look at how artists work with and are inspired by Scientific Machines and tools. The featured artists come from a range of disciplines: installation art, illustration, and microscopy. We accomapny these features with the story of our experience visiting the largest solar power generation facility in the world.

+- isn’t just a platform for established artists. We want everyone to

experiment with art science projects and submit their ideas. For more information go to www.plusminusmag.tumblr.com

The Editors

Dan Tapper is a practicing sound and digital artist with a deep fascination in the cross-pollination between art and science. Having collaborated with scientists on several projects, Dan knows the value of working in an interdisciplinary way. Dan’s personal interest lies in hidden worlds of sound, produced electromagnetically, resonated by subteranean tunnels and the insides of natural objects such as trees and rivers. He also creates generative digital artworks under the name Code Poetry.

www.dantappersounddesign.com

Juna Abrams is a geographer and writer on quest for the perfect secluded cabin. With a foot in both art and science, Juna has experimented with video art, poetry and narrative works as well as edited several magazines across England and her native California. Her work has appeared everywhere from local newspapers to sustainability outreach events. Juna’s personal interest lies more with humanity than topography and she is widely travelled around Europe and the North American continent.

www.junaabrams.wordpress.com


Contributors Dan Tapper

Tom Richards

Travis LeRoy Southworth

A sonic trip to Ivanpah Solar Generation Facility, the biggest solar power plant in the world.

A piece on the Oramics machine, developed by electronic musician, composer and inventor Daphne Oram. The Oramics machine allowed Oram to draw sounds.

An interview with interdisciplinary artist Travis LeRoy Southworth, discussing the inspiration behind his practice and interest in Scientifc Machines.

Elaine Whittaker

Emily Stapleton Jefferis

Toronto-based artist Elaine Whittaker takes us inside her studio, showing us three pieces of scientific equipment that she has repurposed for her artistic practices.

Decorative artist Emily Stapleton Jefferis imagines a Scientific Machine in these quirky illustrations.

Contributions and photos - copyright of the contributors; +- Magazine Š Dan Tapper, Juna Abrams; Plus Minus, Plus Minus Mag and +- are trademarks.


Ivanpah Solar Generation Facility By Dan Tapper For this issue we travelled into the Mojave desert to find the biggest solar power generation facility in the world. The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, California was opened in February 2014. It uses 170,000 mirrors digitally programed to move with the sun, concentrating the energy onto large water towers. The water towers are superheated, The light reflected from the mirrors is concentrated onto Ivanpah’s water towers, powering turbines.

producing steam, which powers turbines, generating electricity. The system powers 140,000 homes. Our trip to Ivanpah coincides with a project that I am currently working on documenting the sounds of interesting sites in North America – North American Sound Diaries. Aside from this Ivanpah is an incredibly aweinspiring site, spreading out over the


Close up of the mirrors.

desert. You can see the light being reflected onto the water towers so clearly that it’s blinding. When you venture closer off the main highway through dirt roads and desert chaparral, the site grows ever larger, providing better views of the mirrors. There are publicly accessible roads which lead right up to the perimeter fence. Here we stopped the car, got out the sound recording equipment and walked as close as we could. Walking up to the mirrors I was able to hear how they moved at regular intervals to reflect the sun onto the water tower. This sound of the actual mechanical movement is heralded by a digital beep reminiscent of a foghorn. After several minutes of recording we were greeted by a park ranger who wanted to check

that we weren’t going to climb the perimeter fence, after explaining why we were there, he began telling us about his experience of the facility which included being up close to the turbines when they were in action. It turns out the facility was not built without some controversy. It was scaled back so as not to infringe on the habitat of desert tortoises. Pilots have complained about the bright light blinding them whilst flying above the area. Despite this, I found the plant to be an amazing spectacle and with it reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 400,000 tons per year it definitely seems a worthwhile project. The sounds of Ivanpah can be heard at North American Sound Diaries. Ivanpah - Image Credits: Juna Abrams


The light from Ivanpah is so bright, it has been known to disrupt air traffic.


Daphne Oram By Tom Richards Tom Richards is a researcher and archivist of The Daphne Oram Collection at Goldsmiths University Daphne Oram (1925-2003) was a British composer and inventor. She is most famous for her role as a founding member of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, and also for developing the Oramics system for electronic music composition and realisation, which articulated its first sounds in 1966. The Oramics Machine is currently on display at the Science Museum London, and Oram’s extensive archive of correspondence, writings, research, music and photographs is now accessible at Goldsmiths Library, University of London. Oram’s idea was to construct a device capable of reading a graphical score drawn by a composer, and turning the result directly into sound without the interpretation of a musical performer or an orchestra. The Oramics machine allowed the composer to draw the exact waveforms (or timbres) to be used in a piece, using a scanning technique based on the idea of a reversed oscilloscope. The waveforms were drawn

onto glass slides and these were optically scanned to create electronic vibrations, which could then be amplified and turned into sound. It also employed a unique digital/ analogue/optical hybrid system to control the pitch of the waveforms over time. The composer would draw dots on strips of 35mm film which were then read by optical sensors, decoded, and used to control the speed at which the waveforms were repetitively scanned, controlling the pitch and sound quality. This initial sonic construction could then be refined using further film based graphic representations of volume over time – allowing the composer to precisely control the dynamics of the piece as well as the amount of reverberation and vibrato.

Waveform Slide


Oramics Machine

Waveform Slide, Oramics Machine - Image Credits: Science Museum / Science & Society


An Interview with Travis LeRoy Southworth Travis LeRoy Southworth is a Brooklyn-based interdisciplinary artist whose work is inspired by cosmological forces. His works have been displayed at the Hessel Museum of Art, New York, Martha Otero Gallery, Los Angeles, and Thomas Robertello Gallery, Chicago. Travis was recently the 2013 artist in residence with AIR Switzerland where he had the opportunity to explore the Large Hadron Collider. We took the opportunity to ask him some questions about how Scientific Machinery influences his work. Your work seems to touch on a number of philosophical and scientific themes. How would you say science has influenced you and can you explain how you choose to communicate that in your pieces? Growing up in a military family and moving every couple of years, my background itself is rooted in change, a sort of unknowing directional path with invisible forces beyond one’s control. I thought a lot about the stars of the night sky, which were shapeless and without borders but could also be used as a system of navigation. I liked that one could use such a faint point so far away to calculate where one was. I was also drawn to the many philosophical and scientific ideas throughout history of one’s relationship to these celestial bodies. It is still one of humankind’s greatest pursuits, the attempt to understand and ‘map’ the heavens. My work fluctuates between Cosmology and Cosmetology,

one being the study and evolution of the Universe and the other regarding one’s everyday concerns of appearance. I want to slow down the ever-increasing pace of life and attentively observe what is hidden in the indefinite yet to come. I tend to work more abstractly, teasing out ideas and letting the viewer make connections. Your work involves using a number of multidisciplinary methods to create your pieces. Do you specifically find yourself seeking out particular machines or mechanisms scientific or otherwise? My practice has a conceptual base. Projects tend to start out with a particular idea and I find the most appropriate medium for that work. Lately I have been working with collage, specifically with magazine imagery, as I like to construct physical objects from two-dimensional representations.


My interest in machines also started out in my youth. I would focus the tiny and intricate marks of a .05mm mechanical pencil, drawing massive machines traversing limitless pages of notebook paper. I still have many of these drawings today. My undergraduate degree is in Photography and I was also an early user of computers and manipulating images digitally. Combining these machines together, I began to focus on alterations within photographic representations of space.

Can you tell us a little bit about your artist residency in Switzerland and your project recreating a small version of the LHC? Visiting the Large Hadron Collider at CERN was beyond such an amazing opportunity. Ultimately I was interested in machinic vision and how the particle detectors can perceive. For example, the ATLAS Experiment is basically a giant camera the size of a seven story building existing just meters below the surface. These machines can create 40 million

The Deep Empty

The Deep Empty


images per second of the particles colliding there.

NYC. The group show focused on the relationship of control over geography in photographs. My installation The I spent six months in Switzerland, the Deep Empty, consists of paper majority of it in the studio near Basel stalactites made of mashed pages and then traveling to the LHC for of landscape imagery from National visits. During my time there, I was able Geographic Magazine. While much of to visit three of the main detectors, my past work involves cosmological ATLAS, CMS and ALICE. While relationships I see future projects there I noticed that it is impossible moving towards objects that are to really see the detectors in their closer to a humans scale such as entirety. The machines are so large boulders, stalactites, collapsed trees and space so compact that hundreds and other geological growths. I am of photographs have to be stitched interested in these types of formations together to form the epic images of as they make one aware of the the Large Hadron Collider that most of massive amounts of time that has us have seen. passed but are also entities one has been in contact with. This led me to make my own collider of sorts. The piece A Fancy Machine What advice would you give to an is the Perfect Centerpiece is a artist just starting out who would miniature collider, although its actual like to begin incorporating science/ size is deceptive. One can only see scientific machinery into their the machine through an eyehole artistic practice? in a locked door. The installation is not accessible and is intentionally I would say the best advice for any unfinished. Part of the machine artist starting out is to really dive into disappears behind a demolished wall, it. Try not to get hung up on specific leaving further questions about its size details, be willing to experiment and and purpose unanswered. open to the end result. As a young artist one will spend a lot of time Where do you see your work going making, thinking about and refining in future? Is art-science something projects. Science can also have a you are interested to keep on similar process but typically has a pursuing? specific goal in mind, which can be constraining. Don’t let that bind you. I just finished a new work for an Allow yourself the freedom to move exhibition Distant Images, Local around the facts and data. Positions at EFA Project Space in The Deep Emtpy, A fancy Machine is the Perfect Centerpiece, Exist - Image Credits: Travis LeRoy Southworth


A Fancy Machine is the Perfect Centerpiece


Exist


Elaine Whittaker Elaine Whittaker is a Toronto-based sculpture and installation artist. Her works explore biological forces using a variety of different tools and approaches. In this feature Elaine takes us inside her studio, showing us three pieces of scientific equipment that she has repurposed for her artistic practices.

The Petri Dish has captivated me for some time. Shallow and round, this clear glass or plastic dish with a loose fitting cover is used to culture biological microorganisms. It is a clean and simple tool with a utilitarian purpose. Originally that was how I used it: fill it with agar, pipette halobacteria (saltwater living pink bacteria) on the agar, pop it into the incubator. Once cultured, I would view and photograph the bacteria through my microscope. But now the Petri dish has become my muse, and my art. It is the perfect framing device to view intimately my live bacteria colony drawings on the wall. When I use them in the hundreds for my larger installations they create a multicomponent canvas of sculptural images and paintings. Strung together and hung from the ceiling they flow and activate the gallery space. In my artwork, the Petri dish has become, as Richard Sennett states in The Craftsman (2008), sublime: it can seemingly do (or be) anything. It is no longer just a tool but has become the art itself.

The Transfer Pipette is made from a single piece of soft plastic with a syringe-like tube and bulb area to hold liquid. You insert the syringe into the liquid, depress the bulb with your fingers to push air out and when you release the bulb liquid passes up the syringe into the bulb. This collected liquid can then be squeezed out slowly. For my art practice, the transfer pipette has become my favourite live microbe drawing tool. After sucking up halobacteria from a test tube, I work pipette like a fine drawing pen, and with slow and determined movements spread the pink halobacteria across the agar creating abstract three dimensional drawings of live microbe colonies. The dish is then cultured in an incubator. Depending on the art piece I am creating, the drawing may be just part of a dish of agar, or it could be incorporated in a dish that includes digital images or painting – a mixed media construction.


Petri Dish

Transfer Pipette


The Microbial Incubator is a microbiology laboratory device used to culture and maintain microbes in Petri dishes. Shaped like a small refrigerator it regulates heat for the optimal growth of microorganisms. The incubator in my studio is a small beige box that sits on one corner of my work table. It only cultures thirty or more Petri dishes at a time, but it has proven to be a hardy piece of

equipment, culturing large quantities of dishes for my more extensive installations that involve hundreds of dishes. I currently use only one incubator so I have to plan carefully the timing and flow of dishes in and out. But, so far, it has worked quite well. I am partial to this little incubator, even though I have to tape up the stopper that holds the thermometer as it continually topples over.

Transfer Pipette - I Caught it at The Movies (in the 2013 exhibit entitled Ambient Plagues).

Microbial Incubator - Cc: me (2012 exhibit entitled Cc: me).

Click the images to see more

Petri Dish - Biotectonics (in the 2010 exhibit entitled (in)trepid cultures).

Petri Dish, Transfer Pipette, Microbial Incubator - Image Credits: Elaine Whittaker


Microbial Incubator


Emily Stapleton Jefferis

Emily Stapleton Jefferis is a final year Decorative Arts student at Nottingham Trent University. Her work involves creating ceramic and mixed media objects that invite a sense of touch and wonder as well as conveying a sense of narrative, triggering  memories, ideas and stories for the people who encounter them. For this issue we commissioned Emily to envision and design an imagined piece of scientific machinery. Emily’s response was: “A memory stimulating machine, using the sense of smell as the trigger. Pushing the first piece, with its tactile and inviting surface, causes it to topple onto the seesaw and this downward motion propels the ball on the opposing end into the air. As the ball flies through space it bursts resulting in a particular scent, which when inhaled transports the user back to a particular time and place, releasing a flood of memories. Scent is linked to memory because the olfactory receptors which detect smells transmit impulses to the brain via a pathway directly connected to the limbic system, an area of the brain closely associated with memory and feeling.” You can find more of Emily’s work here.


Memory Simulating Machine - Image Credits: Emily Stapleton Jefferis

Memory Simulating Machine - detail


Memory Simulating Machine


Are you part of the Art Science movement? We want to hear from you! We’re looking for articles, images, questions and comments on art science crossover for our next issue. Drop us a line at plusminusmag@gmail.com

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+- SCIENTIFIC MACHINERY  

Welcome to the Art Science Movement! +- is a publication that looks at the intersections between art and science. Each issue focuses on a di...

+- SCIENTIFIC MACHINERY  

Welcome to the Art Science Movement! +- is a publication that looks at the intersections between art and science. Each issue focuses on a di...

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