Friday, 14 September 2012


Sun Quilt for Jiggling Atoms

Amelias Magazine write up about Jiggling Atoms...

Jiggling Atoms at The Rag Factory

Jiggling Atoms is an exciting collaboration between artists and physicists. With a full programme of events over a week long period.

Mon 1st October 2012, 10:00am – Sun 7th October 2012, 10:00pm
The Rag Factory. 16-18 Heneage Street London E1 5LJ
Written by Amelia Gregory
Category: Art
jiggling atoms
I am really excited about an upcoming exhibition called Jiggling Atoms, which is the culmination of a major project between artists and physicists. I've long believed that illustration is a great way to communicate sometimes complex ideas in an attractive and alluring way, so I can't wait to see what the participants have come up with. An exciting programme of events will also accompany the exhibition. Below is the official blurb and some of the works in progress, so read on for a taster of what to expect.

CharlotteMei_JigglingAtoms Previewimage_hudd_AM
Preview of work by Charlotte Mei.

Jiggling Atoms is an art and physics collaboration celebrating what science has come to describe as "the inconceivable nature of nature". Inspired by Nobel laureate Richard Feynman and his wonderful ability to teach physics to non-scientists, teaching was where this project began - all contributing artists attended lectures at Imperial College London, written especially for the project by Malte Oppermann and Jennifer Crouch, with a final lecture by Dr. Ben Still. Exploring a range of particle-physics topics in depth, the artists developed their own take on the subject creating games, images, sculptures, comics and info-graphics for theJiggling Atoms exhibition. With such diverse creative input the exhibition will provide a truly unique visual experience. This teaching based initiative is at the core of Jiggling Atoms' unique spirit. 

Lizzie Scarlet Towndrow_JigglingAtomsPreview_sun1_AM
Preview of work by Lizzie Scarlet Towndrow.

Exhibiting artists include: Katie Scott, Ellie Andrews, Sister Arrow, Lotte Beatrix, Rosie Chamberlain, Harriet Cory-Wright, Jennifer Crouch, Rosie Eveleigh, Stephen Fowler, Grace Helmer, Rob Heppell, Jack Hughes, Natalie Kay-Thatcher, Penny Klein, Rachael Matthews, Ella McClean, Charlotte Mei, Peter Nencini, Jimmy Patrick, Bryony Quinn, Peter Rhodes, Lizzie Towndrow, Bea Wilson, Zeel and Adrian Holme.

Jennifer Crouch_JigglingAtomspreviewimages
Preview of work by Jennifer Crouch.

More details:
Jiggling Atoms was conceived by Natalie Kay-Thatcher and is co-curated and organised by Rosie Eveleigh, Jennifer Crouch, Malte Oppermann and Dr. Ben Still. With support from the Science and Technology Facilities Council and The Institute of PhysicsJiggling Atoms seeks to increase the presence of science in the visual arts, opening a channel of science-oriented communication rarely used in this context or with this intensity.

Preview of work by Zeel.

Jiggling Atoms boasts a fascinating program of activities, including artistic workshops, public lectures and debates, music, games and a Jiggling Atoms ‘Closing Ceremony.’ Guests include Super/Collider, Patrick Stevenson Keating, Mark Pilkington, Adrian Holme, John Butterworth and Radmila Topolovic. View more details about events taking place at Jiggling AtomshereWorkshops are FREE but booking is necessary. The Private View is on Thursday 4th October, 6pm–11pm, and includes talks, live music and topical drinks.

Check out more from some of the exhibiting artists in my Ovo Show review from 2011.

DAZED AND CONFUSED... write up...



Learn about all the funny bits in atoms with the new interdisciplinary project exploring particle physics via illustrative art

This Autumn sees the launch of Jiggling Atoms, an interdisciplinary science x arts project exploring the oft baffling world of particle physics through illustration. Research physicists, Malte Oppermann (Quantum Optics & Laser Science PhD student at Imperial College London) and Dr. Ben Still (Queen Mary University), have collaborated with Natalie Kay-Thatcher, Jenny Crouch and co-curator Rosie Eveleigh, to work with 25 artists to increase the presence of science in the visual arts - opening up a channel of communication rarely explored.
Taking a unique teaching-based approach, the 25 artists attended a lecture series held at Imperial College where they explored a plethora of topics within particle physics, which they were unlikely to have studied in any real depth in their creative fields. The challenge was then set to create games, images, sculptures or info-graphics, to combine what the artists had learnt about scientific principles with their interpretative skills as artists.
The exhibition (and soon book) will feature the talents of both upcoming and established artists, including Sister Arrow, Zeel, Stephen Fowler, Katie Scott, Peter Nencini, Grace Helmer, Jimmy Patrick, Elizabeth Towndrow, Bryony Quinn and many more. For their launch events, Jiggling Atoms will also be running printmaking workshops and demonstrations hosted by the likes of Super/Collider's Abby Schlageter and physicists like John Butterworth discussing the Higgs Boson, plus science cocktails and cosmic soundtracks! Ahead of the launch, we chat to Mr Oppermann about science lols, pesky protons and the misconceptions about physicists...

Becoming a particle physicist and understanding everything about those objects is pretty hard. But being amazed by how they jiggle around and what they do to this world is much easier and can be quite a lot of fun...
Dazed Digital: What is the common misconception about modern scientists and scientific research?
Malte Oppermann:
 I can imagine that many people don’t know how creative the job as a scientist turns out to be. We usually try to solve problems only very few people have even thought about, so there just aren’t many recipes around. Be it the solution of a mathematical problem or building a laser system that does exactly what you need for an experiment: a lot in science comes down to experience, trial and error and intuition. That’s what makes it so exciting!

DD: How difficult is it to explain particle physics (in an illustrative sense or otherwise) to those who don't know?
Malte Oppermann: The problem with particle physics is that you just cannot see those pesky particles without a giant particle detector. But in the case of electrons, everybody knows what they can do to the world, in form of electricity for example. Elementary particles – like the electron - are abstract, mathematical concepts, but physicists use them to explain and visualise the world around us. That’s their purpose after all! So it really has two sides. Becoming a particle physicist and understanding everything about those objects is pretty hard. But being amazed by how they jiggle around and what they do to this world is much easier and can be quite a lot of fun.

DD: Why do you think the worlds of science and art have not been integrated more before?
Malte Oppermann: Science has impacted art quite a lot in the past – and not only through technology for the production processes. A lot of Olafur Eliasson’s artworks are inspired by concepts from physics for example. However, with Jiggling Atoms we also try to move beyond the visual aesthetics of science and its concepts. Scientists constantly change the world we live in through their discoveries. They impact political decisions and influence the way we perceive and shape our environment. But in order to get this across, I believe that artists and scientists really have to collaborate and share their experiences and skills. Maybe this has made it difficult for artists to dive deeper into science.
DD: What has been the most fun thing about the project for you?
Malte Oppermann:
 Giving lectures to our group of artists was an incredible experience. Most of them had a love-hate relationship with physics at school so I expected them to be quite sceptical about ending up in a lecture room again. I couldn’t have been more wrong! They got so excited and enthusiastic about all the stuff we’ve shown to them, it has given me a real boost to continue working with science. Perhaps every scientist feels like living on a lonely island sometimes; doing research only a group of experts is interested in. But through Jiggling Atoms I realised that this is just not the case. Most people are very excited about science and are just waiting for an opportunity to learn more about it. I hope that we can do just that with Jiggling Atoms.
The Jiggling Atoms exhibition will take place from 1st - 7th October 2012, at the Rag Factory, 16-18 Heneage Street, London E1 5LJ.


I found Stephen Curry's article, "What does the Higgs boson look like?" fascinating. Despite the title, it is mostly about the impact of visualisation on the credibility of atomic theory.
The need to "see" something in order to believe is completely fine with me, but I find the privileging of our eyes as sensors a bit odd. For me, "seeing" can be done with the naked eye, via a microscope, a telescope, or series of instrumental enhancements to my senses up to (and perhaps eventually beyond) the ATLAS detector. I was most puzzled at a seminar we had at UCL a couple of years ago, from a philosopher of science who seemed fixated with the idea that things we observe via reflected photons with wavelengths somewhere in the few hundred nanometer range (where our eyes are adapted to detect them) may credibly have some privileged reality over, say, quarks, which we observe via gamma rays or some other shorter wavelength probe. Odd stuff.
Visualising things is somewhat different to observing them, of course. Visualisation is both an aid to and a repository of understanding. A good example is the typical event display we use to show proton-proton collisions at the LHC. Another example is Feynman diagrams (for example my badly drawn one here) which represent the actual quantum field theory calculations behind the predictions.
And maybe art can help. On the 6th of October I'm giving a talk atJiggling Atoms, a "multi-disciplinary illustration project exploring the wonders of particle physics". Robin Ince and Ben Still, a neutrino physicist at QMUL, will also be speaking. Over to Ben to blatantly pitch the whole week-long exhibit:

Particle physics and illustration are about to collide in the culmination of the Jiggling Atoms project; the brainchild of artist Natalie Kay-Thatcher. Over the past six months 25 dedicated artists have attended lectures and seminars about physics! They have been set the task of visually interpreting aspects of the often-viewed incomprehensible world of particle physics.
A series of four lectures from co-organisers Malte Oppermann and Jennifer Crouch transported the artists from everyday experience and thinking into the strange realm of the atom and scientific methodology. They learnt of the guiding forces and lumpy discrete nature of Nature. In a final lecture from myself we went deeper down the rabbit hole, smaller than the atom to explore particles.
Now enthused and educated about all things science; the artists were given five short briefs. Each brief explored different aspects of particle physics; quantum weirdness, the space between particles, 'seeing' particles with machines, symmetries and the rules of Nature, and the very early history of the Universe. Various methods of interpretation were also suggested; a toy or game, image or series of images, object, comic strip, or info-graphic. While ideas were taking seed a number of seminars and e-mail conversations followed. From these discussions the briefs took on new and exciting dimensions as artists and scientists' explored ideas of representing the subject matter off brief.
Right now as you read the final touches are being drawn, painted, constructed or fabricated. Alongside the exhibition, which takes place next week, will be a glittering array of workshops and talks. If you are in London 1st-7th October then you must come and interact by exploring physics with us. More information can be found on the website designed by the project's artistic director Rosie Eveleigh.
After all, jiggling atoms are precisely what causes the Brownian motion which, as Stephen described it, was the clincher for atomic theory.

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