Ever wondered what a black hole sounds like? Or what microscopic marine molecules look like up close? Heriot-Watt's artists in residence have created installations that convey the size, sound and scale of our scientific research.
The Contemporary Connections exhibition at Summerhall, an Edinburgh International Science Festival event, allows visitors to immerse themselves in the art of space and the deep sea.
The exhibition features a range of works produced by artists who have been shadowing scientists across the UK, showcasing collaborations and interpretations of real data that provide new windows into fascinating areas of science.
Artists Lily Hibberd and Hannah Imlach are both Leverhulme Trust-funded artists in residency at Heriot-Watt University, and have created installations based on the findings and research of Heriot-Watt researchers.
Lily Hibberd has been working with Heriot-Watt's Extreme Light Group. Her ‘Black Hole Horizon' is an immersive sound installation based on Professor Daniele Faccio's research data. Hibberd also has a kinetic sculpture on show, which represents how Professor Faccio's group has controlled and manipulated light – only it is slowed down by a factor of 200 metres per second.
Hannah Imlach's sculpture collection, From the Dark Ocean Comes Light, is the result of a year-long residency within the Institute of Biological Chemistry, Biophysics and Bioengineering at Heriot-Watt University, and the Changing Oceans Group at the University of Edinburgh. Hannah's sculptures give a glimpse into underwater and microscopic worlds, inspired by the process of fluorescent microscopy and its connection to the marine world.
Dr Paul Dalgarno said, “The artist in residence programme at Heriot-Watt University is not only about making science more accessible and engaging for the public, it's also about challenging scientists like myself to examine how we think about, and communicate, our science with both the scientific community and the public.
Lily and Hannah have helped us to look at our work differently, through the questions that they've asked and the artistic process that they've followed. Together this has helped us to stop and consider the messages in our data, to rethink how we visualise our research and in doing so, bring new beauty and meaning to our findings.
"At Heriot-Watt University, we are focused on researching practical solutions to global problems, ranging from harnessing energy from black holes or examining microscopic cells and how they behave in disease states. We look forward to seeing how visitors respond to the exhibition and hope it will prompt further interest in the work of our own and the other universities taking part."
Lily Hibberd said, “I've been very fortunate to spend most of 2016 learning about Extreme Light's research in quantum optics and laser physics, which is inspired by general relativity and the physics of curved spacetimes.
"The artworks presented at Summerhall are the product of a year of conversations and exchanges about the experiential potential of the materials and phenomena I've seen at work in the Extreme Light lab: strange fluid states, light captured in flight and the speed of the sound of light.”
Contemporary Connections, supported by Heriot-Watt University and run in association with Summerhall and ASCUS Art and Science, runs from Saturday 1 April to Sunday 12 May, 11am-6pm.