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Science: the language of the unknown

The fascination of the unknown for producing artworks.

“We are interested in the unknown, and as soon as you start looking at things you don’t know about, you find that science is the language of the unknown, it’s the frontier”. This is how Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt, a UK artist duo called Semiconductor, describe the essence of their work. They produce artworks which explore nature through the lens of science and technology. It is generally believed that science is a cold and analytical matter. Nevertheless many artists throughout the history have been inspired by it. “We’ve been working together for twenty years exploring the material nature of our physical world and how we experience it,” says Jarman, “Over the years we have become much more interested in how science mediates nature, looking at the tools and processes of science and questioning where science ends and nature begins.” An example is Black Rain, a moving image medium which uses satellite image data to observe the space between the Sun and the Earth. Another Semiconductor work that creates visual interpretations of unknown worlds is Brilliant noise, which deals with solar astronomy. The artists have brought together some of the sun’s unseen moments. These images have been kept in their most raw form, revealing the energy particles and solar wind as a rain of white noise. Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt believe that sometimes art can help scientists to better communicate their difficult matter, finding new ways of exploring, representing and discussing science. That’s the reason why the two artists have observed the quantum computing activity by scientists of the Turku Quantum Technology group. They spent six months in Finland with them, and graphically represented the sound waves produced by the instruments during quantum system simulations. The work has been carried under the project FEAT, supported by the EU 7th Framework Programme Future and Emerging Technologies (FET). “Quite often science is complicated,” Semiconductor says about this experience, “But art can provide a gateway for engaging people in scientific research and ideas.” Watch the gallery here:


Finland, United Kingdom