Interstellar Sublime

Black Rain from Semiconductor on Vimeo. (via: strange|beautiful)

Semiconductor is the alias of British multi-media installation artists Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt. The duo produce the "vision of sound in motion" which appears to mean high-concept films incorporating computers, random natural time-lapse sequences, sound translation and animation. As abstract and academic as that sounds, as an example the project Black Rain (above) is quite immediate and visceral in its effect. The piece is created from images transmitted by twin satellites sent into space by STEREO (Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory) to record solar activity. Semiconductor worked alongside the NASA scientists collecting and compiling all the raw unprocessed image data. It is just that rawness that conveys a haunting "realness" of the universe—which the cleaned-up, colored, officially issued NASA imagery does not.

The light flares, static, scanning bands, dropped frames and all other artifacts of natural disturbance or man-made process, typically edited out by NASA, give the piece a splintered, frenetic intensity. While I don't know if this film is in any way an accurate representation of what is truly out there, it struck me immediately how different a conception of space it presents. Compared to the sepulchral emptiness, the weightless silent vacuum we're used to— for instance, say, Kubrick's space—this energy and sense of limitless tumult leaves the viewer reeling.//

In poking around for some more background I came across "Professor Don Gurnett's favorite sounds of space." Despite sounding like a 1970s album not sold in any store, it is in fact a page from the University of Iowa physics department of audio files of space activity. I must say its a little bit of a let down that the 'music of the spheres' sounds like a slide whistle interlude or a Steve Miller Band concert.

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