This art installation is based on the discovery of quasi-periodic eruption (QPE) events in active galactic nuclei (AGN) by Miniutti et al. 2018 (Nature, Volume 573, Issue 7774, p 381-384) during two XMM-Newton and one Chandra observations. More specifically the observed X-ray variability is characterised by high amplitude and short (9 hours) QPEs over stable flux level.
What makes this discovery very important is that such variability has never been observed in AGN due to their very massive black holes. On the other hand a somewhat gentler quasi-sinusoidal modulation named quasi-periodic oscillations (QPOs) are more frequent in X-ray binaries.
Our initial response for this work was to think about how one might view our (earths) reality looking back at it from the event horizon of a Super Massive Black Hole. How might a fictional almost dream-like and fragmented reality stare back at us, how small and changed might our world seem and how distorted, decomposed and misconceived might our vision of our existence now be.
Taking these initial ideas into sound and sculpture we explored resemblance, echoing, multiplicity, intricacies, shattered reflections and charged silence.
Using real data from XMM-Newton and science consultancy from Dr. Gabi Matzeu we created a sound score consisting of an instrument (sampler/ synthesizer) that uses audio samples taken from the Super Massive Black Hole (SMBH) data itself.
Playing these sonic examples of the data through various processors to morph the original material. Alongside this we scored a section of data to form a number of written phrases and melodic structures that have been played on piano, cello, violin, viola and bass. These instrumental interpretations of the SMBH data are integrated alongside the data instrument to form the building blocks of this unique sound world. The sound score immerses the listener in a cycle of investigative minutes bound by rules and laws set through both a response to the data and new scientific findings giving us a parameter of 9. The sound worms and undulates through 9 sections of material that swim into different versions and explorations of itself pulled from data feeds, our interview with Gabi Matzeu and our creative response to both.
The sculptural miniature is a structure that is both recognizable and unrecognizable. In look it speaks of 'science', its colour, shape and style are reminiscent of both our science fiction memories and our relationship with space and space investigation.
On closer look the sculpture is formed from architectural shapes and forms, realigned and uncomfortably unstable in its delicate arrangement. Made from plastic kits reminiscent of childhood hobbies, the work questions and reacts to our need to create and believe in the possibilities of fictional realities in order to move forward in science.
The sculpture represents a porous reflection of a possible section of world. An image of an eternally swallowed and spat out earth, consumed and sent back as a miniature version, a cylindrical slice.
The object is lit subtly and reacts to a pulsing light set to glow brighter on a count of 9. The delicacy of the dimly lit object, suddenly stark in its revoltingly plastic reality, counterbalances the nature of the sound, asking us to readjust our own space and vision inside the installation.
The objects small impact inside the room works against the expansive nature of the sound as they clash and worm around each other for attention in a never-ending cycle of time and space.
AOD are artists Rachel Champion and Tristan Shorr. Their work integrates
sound and object to create architectural and structural landscapes.