Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt, who comprise the UK artist duo Semiconductor, make moving image works that explore the material nature of our world and question our place in the physical universe. This collection of works shows Semiconductor’s adoption of scientific tools, processes and philosophies that encourage artefacts, errors and interference as a way to reflect on the presence of the human as observer.
Naked shows a colony of naked mole rats living in a laboratory. This rare and highly socialized species demonstrates modes of behavior that in uncanny ways seem human-like. The mole rats are the most inbred species on the planet, and have the longest life span of any laboratory animal. The film zeroes in on aspects of their existence (overcrowded conditions, violence, tenderness) that have parallels in the life of human society.
20 Hz observes a geo-magnetic storm occurring in the Earth's upper atmosphere. Working with data collected from the CARISMA radio array and interpreted as audio, we hear tweeting and rumbles caused by incoming solar wind, captured at the frequency of 20 Hertz. Generated directly by the sound, tangible and sculptural forms emerge suggestive of scientific visualisations. As different frequencies interact both visually and aurally, complex patterns emerge to create interference phenomena that probe the limits of our perception.
Since comets have been recorded, they've augured catastrophe, messiahs, upheaval and end times. A short film about these meteoric ice-cored fireballs and their historic ties to divination that combines imagery of 15th-18th century European broadsides with NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory footage.
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.
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?
A distinguished looking man (performance artist Richard Layzell) is apparently trapped in an ever changing void of colour, locked in a power play with a perversely operated camera. A mute, caged, charismatic TV presenter he is by turns charming, menacing, educational, confused. At times he appears to have great powers. A voice over tells us extraordinary things - how this man is special - the first man to 'have a baby'. Hallucinogenic flash-frames punctuate the colour field to give us a view of his world's disturbing and alien futuristic logic.
Earthmoves is a continuation of Semiconductor's exploration into how unseen forces affect the fabric of our world. The limits of human perception are exposed, revealing a world which is unstable and in a constant state of animation as the forces of acoustic waves come into play on our surroundings.
By asking a group of space physicists the unanswerable, Semiconductor reveal the hidden motivations driving scientists to the outer limits of human knowledge. In an attempt to find meaning within the question, they open a Pandora's Box of limitations within science itself, revealing their own philosophical confines. Issues of faith, medicine and the laws of matter are raised to illustrate the infinitely complex universe we live in.
Brilliant Noise takes us into the data vaults of solar astronomy. After sifting through hundreds of thousands of computer files made accessible via open access archives, Semiconductor have brought together some of the sun's finest unseen moments. These images have been kept in their most raw form, revealing the energetic particles and solar wind as a rain of white noise. This black and white grainy quality is routinely cleaned up by NASA, usually hiding the processes and mechanics in action behind the capturing procedure.
Presented as a fictional documentary, the sound film All the Time in The World sees the millions of years that have shaped and formed the land, played out at the speed of sound.
Semiconductor have reanimated Northumbria's epic landscape using data recordings from the archives at the British Geological Survey in Edinburgh. This data of local and distant seismic disturbances has been converted to sound and used to reveal and bring to life the constantly shifting geography around us.
For 200 Nanowebbers, Semiconductor have created a molecular web that is generated by Double Adaptor's live soundtrack. Using custom-made scripting, the melodies and rhythms spawn a nano scale environment that shifts and contorts to the audios resonances. Layers of energetic hand drawn animations, play over the simplest of vector shapes that form atomic scale associations. As the landscape flickers into existence by the light of trapped electron particles, substructures begin to take shape and resemble crystalline substances.
This absurdist, microscopic film noir follows the activities of an underground network of ill people, desperate to create alternative methods of self-care in a world where natural resources are disappearing. While examining the meaning of health, disease, and well-being in the post-industrial world, Apple Grown In Wind Tunnel imagines the development of a culture at the margins, linked by illicit radio broadcasts, toxic waste sites, the highway, and ultimately by the overwhelming desire to find a cure.
“Mining an ironic vein by turning technology against itself, AlienNATION undercuts the sociological ramifications of modern living. It is an astounding compendium of sci-fi images, textbook diagrams, special effects, and studio props, which together build multiple readings of the alien, the mysterious, and the obscure in American culture.