Slow Light Shadow Matter (site under construction)

Slow Light Shadow Matter is a long-term project comprising 13 short digitally created animated videos: twelve chapters and a prologue. It is presented on three screens. The title itself refers to two concepts from physics. In 1999 scientists “used a new state of matter called a Bose-Einstein condensate … to bring light down to the speed of a bicycle and then later to a dead halt.” This is called slow light. Shadow matter refers to a hypothetical material “that interacts with ordinary matter, only by gravity, which means hardly at all.” The imagery in SLSM consists of complex motion collages, combining modified representational and non-representational elements, text, music and voice. Most visual elements are synthetic -that is created entirely via software. Each chapter is inspired by an artist-scientist dyad; each pair includes an artist and a scientist who were approximate contemporaries. The chapters are held together by multiple themes. For example, one narrative thread is based on the Greek god Hermes. The physical nature and history of light (or more generally electromagnetism); that of force and fields, and by extension technologies of communication or information transfer are investigated. Weaved into the chapters is a cross-referential structure of systems that include alchemy and biology in order to draw out related conceptual connections. In addition to a free-improv soundtrack created by internationally known composer and musician Thollem McDonas, there is a voice-over recounting a biography closely based on jazz saxophonist Ornette Coleman.

The scientist/artist pairs are listed here:

Prologue (El Greco) (low resolution video here)

Isaac Newton/JanVermeer
Michael Faraday/William Turner (low resolution video here)
James Clerk Maxwell/Claude Monet

Rosalind Franklin/Richard Long

Ernest Rutherford/Paul Cezanne
Niels Bohr/Wassily Kandinsky
David Bohm/Richard Pousette-Dart

Albert Hofmann/Pierre Soulages

John S Bell/Jasper Johns
John Archibald Wheeler/Agnes Martin
Murray Gell-Mann/Sol Lewitt

James Lovelock/Ana Mendieta

The scientists are almost all physicists who have worked with some aspect of electromagnetic or quantum theory. There are three dissimilar scientists who represent a sub-theme of biology. The work of the artists usually relate to light and/or color. Here too divergent members are included in order to develop other ideas. The connections that are drawn between the artists and scientists are of course entirely aesthetic and intuitive. The resulting video is exceedingly dense with superimposed imagery and texts. It may take viewers some time to parse out all the components and their relationships.