Simeon Nelson in collaboration with Rob Godman and Nick Rothwell
Gravity Dance, Skyway 10 Art and Astronomy Festival, Torun Poland
curated by Mario Caeiro
For Toruń’s Collegium Maximum, Simeon Nelson conceived and developed a dynamic light projection inspired by the recent discovery of water and ice on the Moon. The piece came out of the artist’s fascination with the fundamental processes of nature and is based on a series of his drawings that attempt to depict states of matter at very small scales.
The projection onto the facade of the Collegium Maximum took the transformation of water from solid, to liquid and gas as its starting point. The ice in some moon craters is only 25 kelvin; when the sun hits the temperature rises dramatically transforming the ice to liquid and vapourous states. The projection cycle of Plenum (Moon/Mind/Matter) starts as a perfect grid of dots arranged in a crystalline matrix, new dots begin to appear forcing the surrounding dots apart so that after 15 minutes the entire grid is pulsating, swaying and liquefying with particles popping in and out of existence. The top layers of the grid begin to disintegrate into a gaseous state shooting off in seemingly random trajectories so that the projection runs a full sequence from a frozen state of absolute order through increasing entropy to a state of complete chaos.
Plenum (Moon/Mind/Matter) questions the separateness of the points so that they are perceived as a field of events rather than a collection of separate entities just as what we perceive as physical bodies in the cosmos are manifestations, concretions of the created order held in dynamic balance with each other by gravity, electromagnetic and nuclear forces depending on what scale they occur at. In terms of the implications of quantum theory these fragments popping in and out of existence could be said to be a system containing all possible worlds, latently waiting to manifest.
Plenum (Moon/Mind/Matter) plays out as a creation myth, a meditation on the relationship between the created world and creator. It can be read on material, cognitive and spiritual levels. Its crystalline grid is a plenum from which phenomena with increasing levels of complexity and freedom grow. The imperfections could be seen as self-awareness and autonomy awakening out of a universal atman, or alternatively, out of the pre-human lesser cognition of animals. This intelligence, this autonomy, this free will is our gift to use for good or ill and the calamitous history of humanity is the price for that freedom. The created order of the natural world is also necessarily free so that evolution and higher life forms like us can come into being and become creators ourselves. The laws of nature have provided the conditions for us to exist that include plate-tectonics, dynamical weather systems, tsunamis, tornadoes etc. Creative freedom cannot exist without risk. There cannot be the freedom to grow in conscience without the freedom to be evil.
The work was developed in close collaboration with Rob Godman and Nick Rothwell.
Rob Godman is a composer, sound designer and programmer. He is Reader in Music at the University of Hertfordshire. As well as creating generative, responsive and interactive installation audio works he regularly performs live, focusing on a transparent relationship between technology, audience and performer.
Nick Rothwell is a London-based composer, performer, media artist and programmer. He has produced sound scores for several choreographers and interactive media systems for the Vienna Volksoper, Ballett Frankfurt, TECHNE (Istanbul), Kinetica and Wayne McGregor|Random Dance at Sadler’s Wells. He is currently touring with a laser-controlled responsive soundscape for Eddie Ladd.
Robert Godman and Nick Rothwell aligned the soundtrack and animation sequence to the same code so that there was a perfect mapping of sound and vision. The projection occurred in real time, being non-linear and self-generating: each cycle had different outcomes determined by the code parameters.
Torun is a beautiful medieval city in North West Poland and is the birthplace of Nicolaus Copernicus. The Skyway festival is curated by Mario Caeiro and is forms part of Torun’s bid to be European Capital of Culture in 2016.