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Semiconductor Videoworks: Volume 1

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.

In All the Time in the World, data recordings of seismic activity gathered from the British Geological Survey archives are converted to sound in order to reanimate footage of Northumbria’s epic landscape. 

In their explorations of how human and computer interact, Semiconductor employs Double Adaptor’s soundtrack to generate a shifting and meandering nano-scale environment in 200 Nanowebbers.

In Do You Think Science… , a group of space physicists are approached with unanswerable questions that remain unknown to the viewer. Their answers provide insight into inner philosophies, issues of faith and the limits of human knowledge.

Brilliant Noise takes us into the data vaults of solar astronomy revealing raw, single frame footage of solar activity recombined into sequential images. The accompanying soundtrack brings to light the hidden forces at play upon the solar surface, directly translating the natural solar radio signals to correspond with the brightness of the solar activity. 

Finally, in Earthmoves, the southeast of England is explored through a series of five audio-controlled photographic panoramas revealing the limits of human perception. Sound recordings collected on location are used to animated images with isolated and frantic undulations. The work takes us through a micro, web-like landscape that shifts and contorts to the soundtrack.

# Title Artists Run Time Year Country
1 All the Time in the World Semiconductor 00:04:40 2005 United Kingdom
2 200 Nanowebbers Semiconductor 00:02:49 2005 United Kingdom
3 Do You Think Science... Semiconductor 00:12:15 2006 United Kingdom, United States
4 Brilliant Noise Semiconductor 00:05:47 2006 United Kingdom, United States
5 Earthmoves Semiconductor 00:04:55 2006 United Kingdom

All the Time in the World

2005 | 00:04:40 | United Kingdom | English | Color | Stereo | 4:3 | DV video


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.

We follow the motion of the sound as it travels from the coast at Cocklawburn to the hills of The Cheviots, transforming the land. We travel to Abb's Head and witness Earth Lights, made visible by the seismic sounds. These phenomena are said to be the result of tectonic movement in the strata below us. Flashes of light and electricity are produced as movement squeezes mineral crystals together, displaying luminous objects whose motion coincides with the direction of ruptures within the earth.

Filmed and animated between October and March 2005 during a fellowship at Berwick Gymnasium Art Gallery, Berwick-Upon-Tweed, UK.

Funded by English Heritage and Arts Council England North East.

200 Nanowebbers

2005 | 00:02:49 | United Kingdom | None | Color | Stereo | 4:3 | HD video


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.

Do You Think Science...

2006 | 00:12:15 | United Kingdom, United States | English | Color | Stereo | 4:3 | DV video


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.

Thanks to the following scientists at The Space Sciences Laboratory, UC Berkeley, California, USA. for their contributions to this work:  Stuart Bale, David Brain, John Bonnell, Nahide Craig, Janet Luhmann, Bryan Mendez, Forrest Mozer, Stephen Mende, Ilan Roth, Chris Snead, Charles Townes, Andrew Westphal.

Brilliant Noise

2006 | 00:05:47 | United Kingdom, United States | English | B&W | Stereo | 4:3 | DV video


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. Most of the imagery has been collected by satellites orbiting the Earth as single frames, or files of information, that are then reorganised into spectral sequences. The soundtrack brings to light the hidden forces at play upon the solar surface, by directly translating the intensity of the brightness into audio manipulation.


2006 | 00:04:55 | United Kingdom | English | Color | Stereo | 16:9 | DV video


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.    

The south-east of England is explored through a series of five audio-controlled photographic panoramas. Semiconductor collected sound recordings and photographs on location at: the A23 at Pease Pottage, Witterings NT reserve, Findon Valley, John St Brighton and Adur Valley cement factory. The sounds were used to re-animate the landscape at each location.

Earthmoves is an Arts Council England commission and is permanently installed at the South East offices, Brighton.