Big Ideas

Big Ideas

Blast Theory, Jem Finer, London Fieldworks and Brian Duffy

Read about the project

You Are Afraid © Blast Theory

A Theory of Everything © Brian Duffy and Lucy Bastin

1+1=∞ © Jem Finer

Thought Pavilion © London Fieldworks

Blast Theory, Jem Finer, London Fieldworks and Brian Duffy - Big Ideas

  • December 2005
  • Events
  • Location: Dana Centre

The Science Museum invited four leading contemporary artists to develop proposals that used the Dana Centre conceptually, architecturally or technically as a vehicle to ‘unpack’ the process of science in a collaborative and participatory way, bringing the public into contact with scientists through artistic interrogation.

Blast Theory‚ Brian Duffy, Jem Finer and London Fieldworks spent 12 months researching, analysing and responding to the Dana Centre to produce their concept proposals. Taking into consideration the Dana Centre's mission to promote greater involvement in and understanding of contemporary science through debate, dialogue and other innovative participatory processes, the artists presented their ideas for meeting these aims through artistic intervention.

The Big Ideas - Blast Theory's mass-participation project about fear, London Fieldworks' thought sculpture made from brain waves, Brian Duffy's marble monument to Einstein and Jem Finer's reinterpretation of the expert's role in science - were presented at two events held in the Dana Centre in December 2005. The proposals have not yet and might not ever become more than ideas, but they suggest rich possibilities.

  • Big Ideas was supported by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

Read the artists' proposals

About the artists

Blast Theory is an artist group exploring interactivity and the relationship between real and virtual spaces‚ particularly relating to social and political aspects of technology.

Jem Finer (born 1955) is an artist and musician working in a diverse range of fields including music‚ film‚ performance‚ sculpture‚ installation and photography.

London Fieldworks is an arts partnership co-founded by artists Bruce Gilchrist and Jo Joelson exploring how the data of natural phenomena and human experience are interpreted and manifested in both science and art.

Brian Duffy is a conceptual artist whose work involves live performance, installations, original music composition and the creation of new musical instruments. His central themes explore the limits of human sense data and the notion of perceptual habit.

More about the artwork

Artists' proposals

Blast Theory
You Are Afraid

From personal phobias to paranoia‚ terrorism to natural disaster‚ everybody has an experience or opinion of fear. Created by artist group Blast Theory, You Are Afraid is a proposal for a mass-participation science project inviting the public to take part in a large-scale data collection exploring fear.

Mobile phones would be used to collect statistical data and documentary material from their daily life. As the project progresses‚ active participants would be rewarded by being able to meet and question researchers in live discussions at the Dana Centre. Results from the project including photos‚ statistics and personal accounts would be compiled into an online archive and magazine.

Brian Duffy
A Theory of Everything

Conceptual artist and musician Brian Duffy's proposal‚ A Theory of Everything, is a monument to Einstein which would function as a public space for the contemplation of the presence of a higher dimension.

The monument would be designed to embody Duffy's interpretation of Einstein's beliefs that an image could often explain a complex scientific concept more clearly than words alone. Duffy is interested in the ways in which Einstein described relativity as being akin to marble - smooth‚ geometric and‚ no matter how closely one looked‚ it still looked similar (everything is ultimately knowable‚ because everything is ultimately predictable) - and quantum physics as being more akin to wood - knotty‚ unsymmetrical and becoming more random when looked at closely.

Jem Finer
1+1=∞

Following an artist's residency in Oxford University's astrophysics department‚ Finer developed his proposal to suggest a breakaway from traditional relationships between the 'expert' and the audience‚ a prescriptive relationship eliciting a 'reactive' response.

1+1=∞ proposes a radical revision of the Dana Centre’s architecture and function - turning it into a library of forking paths‚ an immersive space without restraint or silence. The aim would be to create an environment‚ as well as games and strategies in which people would be encouraged to enquire‚ to be curious and draw their own conclusions. They would learn through direct experience rather than depending upon received wisdom alone to guide them.

London Fieldworks
Thought Pavilion

Thought Pavilion explores the relationship between imagined ideas and tangible artistic outcomes. It would involve the development of a brain-wave interface to produce 'thought sculpture' from a database of brain waves 'donated' by members of the public and professional thinkers‚ interacting with a rapid prototyping machine or 3D printer.

Thought Pavilion was inspired by developments in brain-machine interfaces‚ and acknowledges the developing role of databases across disciplines‚ especially in contemporary medical science. Through the use of a relational database‚ the project proposes a new model for the production of plastic art within the context of a public artwork.

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