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FERMILAB RESIDENCY

“Creativity is a common thread essential to artists and scientists. Reflected in drawings on blackboards or renderings in sketchbooks, the visualization of information is important to reach scientific and artistic goals.

 

It is a great honor to have Ellen Sandor, a Chicago new media artist and director of (art)n, as the 2016 Fermilab artist-in-residence. Her energy, enthusiasm and curiosity are rooted in her ability to combine art and science using state-of-the-art technologies.  She values the alliance between artist and scientist and finds discovery to be at the forefront of the digital age. Her ability to visualize the invisible —from viruses to subatomic particles—made her the perfect candidate, and her innovative artwork speaks for itself.”

Georgia Schwender, Founder of the Artist-in-Residence program at Fermilab

the magnificent microphone: science through the art of Jackson Pollock and David Smith

The Magnificent MicroBooNE: Science Through the Art of Jackson Pollock and David Smith, 2016

Ellen Sandor & (art)n: Diana Torres and Chris Kemp

Jennifer Raaf, Sam Zeller, Thomas Junk and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory

Special thanks to Janine Fron

Digital PHSCologram, Duratrans, Kodalith, and Plexiglas

24 x 40 inches 

The MicroBooNE particle detector resides inside a closed chamber (about the size of a school bus) filled entirely with liquid argon. Neutrinos are constantly being shot though the chamber and on occasion they will collide with an argon nucleus. The collision sometimes causes the argon nucleus to break up and at other times the nucleus remains intact, but in both cases the aftermath of the collision results in protons, neutrons, and other particles being expelled, sending them flying out from the collision point. The exiting particles leave trails of charge behind them as they pass through the detector, and these trails of charge are the way that scientists identify what type of interaction the neutrino had with the argon nucleus. A strong electric field is used to push the charged streams toward one side of the detector, which is instrumented with delicate wires arranged in a grid-like pattern that can sense the charge. Light is also created as the exiting particles travel through the liquid, and it is recorded by light-sensitive detectors situated behind the charge-sensing planes of wires. 

 

Both the light and the charge are important in understanding the details of the neutrino interactions. Data from the charge-sensing wires are displayed as a two-dimensional graph showing the path and the activity of particles exiting the neutrino interaction. Multiple views of the two-dimensional plane allow scientists to create three-dimensional graphs that are used to interpret the data.  These graphs are color-coded and can be quite beautiful and reminiscent of abstract art. 

The Magnificent MicroBooNE: Science Through the Art of Jackson Pollock and David Smith, 2016

Ellen Sandor & (art)n: Diana Torres and Chris Kemp

Jennifer Raaf, Sam Zeller, Thomas Junk and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory

Special thanks to Janine Fron

Virtual Reality Installation

With the (art)n MicroBooNE VR, the recorded charge of the outgoing particles is replaced with colorful drawn lines and painted strokes in a Jackson Pollock style, as well as constructed sculpture in the style of David Smith’s Giacometti-inspired work. Both the Pollock painted brush strokes and the Smith sculptures are built up in relation to the course of the particles, illustrating their paths both two-dimensionally and three-dimensionally, while elaborating on the artful presentation of the scientific data and honoring the style of these influential presences in art history. 

 

(art)n uses Jackson Pollock’s unique drip painting style to artistically demonstrate the 2-dimensional graphs Fermilab researchers acquire from the charge-sensing wires inside MicroBooNE. In the same way Pollock’s paint drips record his own movements of his action painting process, MicroBooNE data graphs illustrate the paths and the activities of the charged particles exiting the neutrino interaction. (art)n also uses an evolution of David Smith’s various sculpture work to artistically demonstrate the three-dimensional data graphs Fermilab researchers gain from analyzing multiple views of the two-dimensional planes. 

Like Pollock, David Smith was also an American born artist who worked primarily in seclusion while expressing emotions in his work through strictly abstract ways. Combining influences of European Modernism including Cubism, Surrealism, and Constructivism, Smith is noted for essentially translating the painterly concerns of the Abstract Expressionist movement into sculpture.  Traditional metal sculpture and casts required premeditation and design but Smith built his sculpture in the moment, welding metal pieces together in whatever form he currently desired.  Smith considered himself more a painter than sculptor, bridging his method of work. Later Smith began exploring stainless steel sculpture with burnished textures added through sanding and his work evolved into much more minimalistic art. In the end he was known along with his fellow artist of the times Alberto Giacometti, as one of the greatest sculptors of the era. (art)n uses an evolution of David Smith’s various sculpture work to artistically demonstrate the three-dimensional data graphs Fermilab researchers gain from analyzing multiple views of the two-dimensional planes. In the same way Smith’s sculptures became more minimal over time, the three-dimensional data is interpreted from the existing two-dimensional appearing less detailed than its Jackson Pollock implied predecessor. 

neutrionos and nova: a vasarely variation

Neutrinos and NOvA: A Vasarely Variation, 2016

Ellen Sandor & (art)n: Diana Torres and Chris Kemp

Jennifer Raaf, Sam Zeller, Thomas Junk and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory

Special thanks to Janine Fron

Projection mapping installation

Neutrinos and NOvA: A Vasarely Variation, 2016

Ellen Sandor & (art)n: Diana Torres and Chris Kemp

Jennifer Raaf, Sam Zeller, Thomas Junk and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory

Special thanks to Janine Fron

Digital PHSCologram: Duratrans, Kodalith, and Plexiglas

30 x 30 inches

Neutrinos and NOvA: A Vasarely Variation, 2016

Ellen Sandor & (art)n: Diana Torres and Chris Kemp

Jennifer Raaf, Sam Zeller, Thomas Junk and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory

Special thanks to Janine Fron

Animation

NOvA is a large above-ground neutrino detector made mostly out of plastic PVC  pipes  filled  with  mineral oil, which is the material with which the neutrinos interact. Neutrinos are constantly being fired into the NOvA detector, and on the rare occasion that a neutrino interacts with the mineral oil, the collision releases protons, neutrons, and other types of particles. As these outgoing particles travel through the oil, they leave energy in the form of a very tiny bit of light.  Photosensitive optical fibers that are installed inside the PVC pipes detect the tiny amounts of light, marking the locations of the particles’ paths as they travel through the oil. Because the precision of the location of each particle path is limited by the size of the PVC pipes, the path can only be pinpointed to that extent within the full grid of pipes. 

 

(art)n depicts this through both projection mapping and a PHSCologram work, using the grid-like design to transform the data into a Victor Vasarely inspired artwork. Vasarely’s work tends to use repeating shapes and different colors, and was an obvious fit for an artful analogy. 

 

Victor Vasarely was a Hungarian-French artist widely considered the “grandfather of Op-Art art.” With training as a graphic designer, Vasarely believed the correct use of color geometric shapes could lead to enhanced ways of perceiving space, matter, movement and energy in art. This form of geometric abstraction became known as Op-Art.

 

(art)n uses Vasarely’s Op-Art geometric abstraction to artistically demonstrate the both the inner workings and produced data of the NOvA detector. The geometric layout of the PVC piping inside the NOvA detector can create geometric data graphs with color indicating places of neutrino collision. (art)n expands on this and elevates it to Vasarely’s colorful and energized Op-Art level.

 

This piece embodies a collision release of protons, neutrons and other particles through Vasarely’s signature Op-Art lens. 

Bubble Chamber Beginnings: Revisiting the Vintage, Panel 1, 2016

Ellen Sandor & (art)n: Diana Torres and Chris Kemp

Jennifer Raaf, Sam Zeller, Thomas Junk and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory

Special thanks to Janine Fron

Digital PHSCologram: Duratrans, Kodalith, and Plexiglas

30 x 40 inches

bubble chamber beginnings: revisiting the vintage

Bubble Chamber Beginnings: Revisiting the Vintage, Panel 2, 2016

Ellen Sandor & (art)n: Diana Torres and Chris Kemp

Jennifer Raaf, Sam Zeller, Thomas Junk and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory

Special thanks to Janine Fron

Digital PHSCologram: Duratrans, Kodalith, and Plexiglas

30 x 40 inches

Bubble Chamber Beginnings: Revisiting the Vintage, 2016

Ellen Sandor & (art)n: Diana Torres and Chris Kemp

Jennifer Raaf, Sam Zeller, Thomas Junk and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory

Special thanks to Janine Fron

Digital PHSCologram: Duratrans, Kodalith, and Plexiglas

12 x 42 x 72 inches

The bubble chamber PHSCologram sculpture was created as a reference to neutrino detectors of the past. A bubble chamber is filled with super-heated liquid, and charged particles traveling through the liquid leave trails of microscopic bubbles. The bubbles are expanded by changing the pressure of the chamber until they are large enough to be photographed. 

Neutrinos cannot be seen directly; - only the “aftermath” of their occasional collisions can be seen, and the neutrino type and energy must be inferred from the types and energies of the other particles that are created in the collision. The bubble trails of these other particles are photographed by cameras mounted at various locations on the chamber walls, and the trails curve in the images because of the magnetic field inside the chamber. The radius of curvature is proportional to the mass of the particle and its velocity. 

 

Data from these chambers is vintage, and scientists have far better ways of detecting neutrino interactions these days. However, the bubble chamber subject matter was chosen by (art)n because the data images produced from these detectors are truly beautiful artworks that still resonate. 

binary bypass: neutrinos for data communication

Binary Bypass: Neutrinos for Data Communication, Panel 1, 2016

Ellen Sandor & (art)n: Diana Torres and Chris Kemp

Jennifer Raaf, Sam Zeller, Thomas Junk and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory

Special thanks to Janine Fron

Digital PHSCologram: Duratrans, Kodalith, and Plexiglas

30 x 40 inches

Binary Bypass: Neutrinos for Data Communication, Panel 2, 2016

Ellen Sandor & (art)n: Diana Torres and Chris Kemp

Jennifer Raaf, Sam Zeller, Thomas Junk and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory

Special thanks to Janine Fron

Digital PHSCologram: Duratrans, Kodalith, and Plexiglas

30 x 40 inches

Although still off into the future, scientists believe it is theoretically possible that eventually we will be able to send neutrinos through the entire earth in a binary code pattern to be deciphered on the other side. Neutrinos can pass through matter including the Earth. Scientists have already sent neutrinos through the earth in binary code and detected them after they traveled a short distance. If they can figure out a way of doing this on a larger scale, they could send neutrinos of a certain signature through the planet to be picked up with detectors on the other side, where the binary data would be an-alyzed to decipher the message. This would be a much more secure form of data transfer as opposed to beaming data around the Earth via satellites. 

These innovative ideas are represented in a duo PHSCologram sculpture with 3D-printed digital ones and zeros attached to the sculpture’s sides to add a further element of three-dimensionality. 

Binary Bypass: Neutrinos for Data Communication, 2016

Ellen Sandor & (art)n: Diana Torres and Chris Kemp

Jennifer Raaf, Sam Zeller, Thomas Junk and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory

Special thanks to Janine Fron

Digital PHSCologram: Duratrans, Kodalith, and Plexiglas

12 x 42 x 72 inches

solar dynamo/ solar interior

Solar Dynamo / Solar Interior, 2016

Ellen Sandor & (art)n: Chris Kemp and Diana Torres

Visualization by AVL, NCSA, University of Illinois

Donna Cox, Robert Patterson, Stuart Levy, Kalina Borkiewicz, AJ Christensen, Jeff Carpenter; Scienti c Simulation by Juri Toomre, University of Colorado, Boulder; Mark Miesch, NCAR; Nicholas Nelson, LANL; Allan Sacha BRUN, UMR AIM Paris-Saclay; Benjamin Brown, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Digital PHSCologram: Duratrans, Kodalith, and Plexiglas

24 x 40 inches

Dr. Robert Stein, professor of Physics and Astronomy at Michigan State Universe has long envisioned a day when he could use supercomputer programs to “see” through the roiling surface of the sun and glimpse its dynamic interior. In the documentary, Seeing Inside the Sun - The Science Behind Super Solarstorms, he describes his quest and offers ideas about what drives the violent outbursts known as coronal mass ejections, or CMEs, known to disrupt the electrical systems that power our civilization.