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Thursday
Aug042011

Little group exhibition

An entry focused mostly on visual art this time. Here are seven artworks made over the last 100 years that caught my eye and imagination. Some relate directly to physics and others are more tangential or even coincidental. There is one entry from a scientist and there could have been plenty more. The 22 pages of string theory produced over three days by Dan Waldram were amongst the first beautiful things I saw when I began at Imperial.

This is my personal selection - scientists have talked about many others including: Agnes Martin, Dali, Kandinsky, Riley, Jean Tinguely, Rothko and Du-Ho Suh.

I hope you enjoy......


1. Alexander Calder, ‘A universe’, 1934. Painted iron pipe, steel wire, motor and wood with string. 102.9 x 76.2 cm

It is said that Einstein stood for forty minutes in front of Calder's modest motorised sculpture and muttered the words....'why didn't I think of that?'.


2. John Latham, Untitled (Roller Painting), 1964. Spray-paint on white duck. 274 x 366 cm

Latham's roller paintings have varied in format over the years and are an expression of time.  In this image, the roller is 'the present' and the hanging canvas the history. In my imagination, the coloured waves evoke world lines.

3. Dan Waldram, 22 hand written A4 pages of string theory, 2011

22 quite immaculate pages of string theory on gridded paper - modelling the path of a gravitino in proximity to a black hole.

 

4. Michael Buhler, Pedestrian, 2003, Mixed media construction (Box 29), 23 x 15 x 4.5 inches

As a child, Michael Buhler heard the ice crack beneath him one day when he walked across an iced over pond. For him, the moment when everything changes for ever became an inspiration as did the mysteries of the universe and the prospect of alien life. Here a pedestrian walks down a street with strange structures beneath. The sky is personified or is possibly an alien mind.

5. Francis Picabia, In Favour of Criticism, 1945, Oil on canvas, 103 x 75 cm.

This may have been far from Picabia's mind, but I see the laughing moon and the atom.  The inevitable human desire to personify nature.

6. Piet Mondrian, No. 10, Pier and Ocean, 1915, Oil on canvas. 85 x 108 cm

Mondrian's pier series resonates strongly with my imagining of light (which comes in drops like rain) and equally my imagination of the electron with a cloud of virtual particles effervesing.

7. John Latham, proto universe

Latham's proto universe, couldn't be further from the drama of the birth of our world, however, this quiet piece speaks of the sub-second moment before there was anything and the moment after when space-time is born, expansion begins and all is opaque.