Astonishing Science. Spectacular museum.
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Astro Black Morphologies - © Anna Piva and Edward George
Location: Dana Centre
Astro Black Morphologies was an immersive dub, techno and avant-garde electronic sound and image installation and performance, created using transformed X-ray data from the black hole Cygnus X-1. The installation explored cutting-edge developments in astronomy, and new ways of understanding and experiencing the relationship between earthbound cosmic music and the music of the cosmos. Flow Motion, artists and musicians Eddie George and Anna Piva, engaged in a dialogue with astrophysicists and software artists to produce this hauntingly meditative installation which combined contemporary astronomy‚ digital art and electronic music.
In their 2002 paper 'The Music of Black Holes'‚ astronomers Phil Uttley and Ian McHardy noted that X-ray data collected from Cygnus X-1‚ a black hole in the Milky Way‚ were implicitly musical in structure. The 'music' existed in the form of thousands of digits recorded by NASA's Rossi X-Ray Timing Explorer. The data also showed patterns of variations similar to those from supermassive black holes in other galaxies. Their findings intrigued the artists who‚ in 2003‚ began working with Phil Uttley and Tim O’Brien from Jodrell Bank Observatory to transform these numbers into sound. Piva and George then created a series of electronic soundscapes based on the 'sonified' X-ray data, and worked with generative design artist Adrian Ward on 'evolving' the numbers into images.
Visitors to the installation entered a dark room with projected movies of the visualised data on the walls and floor‚ and with a surround sound system playing the dubbed, sonified X-ray data. In addition‚ traces of the data and of voices reciting the numerical sequence were woven into a soundscape consisting of treated radio astronomy sounds from our Solar System - Saturn‚ Jupiter‚ and Earth's planetary atmospheres - and the pulses of the star clusters of the Tucana constellation.
Astro Black Morphologies/Astro Dub Morphologies was presented by the artist group Flow Motion with The Arts Catalyst, in association with the John Hansard Gallery and SCAN new-media arts agency, and was supported by Arts Council England.
Flow Motion are electronic musicians and artists Anna Piva and Eddie George. They produce multimedia installations and sound art performances. As Hallucinator they record for Berlin's electronic label Chain Reaction. Their work has been shown at the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art, the Pompidou Centre in Paris, the International Institute of Visual Art in London, Star City's historic Cosmonaut's Club, the SETI Institute in California, and at Sadler's Wells' Lilian Baylis Studio as part of the Arts Catalyst Artists and Cosmonauts season.
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