Messages from the Horizon

Mark-David Hosale and Jim Madsen (2019)

Messages art + science exhibition, Memorial Union Gallery, Maidson, Wisconsin
June 14th - August 2nd, 2019
Held in conjunction with the 2019 International Cosmic Ray Conference July 24th - Aug 1st, 2019.

As part of the virtual exhibition: Life, A Sensorium
hosted by Sensorium: Centre for Digital Art and Technology (York University, Canada) at ISEA2020 Montreal, Quebec, Canada, October 13-18

Messages from the Horizon is an abstracted and collapsed form of the Universe within the space of a small room. It is an expression of the process of astronomical observation, knowledge acquisition and the human condition in the Universe. Most of what we wish to learn about our Universe falls outside of what we are able to perceive through our senses. Ultimately, all information gathered from our instruments must be scaled and transformed so that it can fall within the range of our perception to be understood. In the case of astronomical observation, we do this by slicing the electromagnetic spectrum and comparing significant simultaneous events in our Universe in energy, location, and time. The relation of the totality of what is present in the Universe and what is perceivable through our senses highlights the edges of what is known, knowable, and unknowable in our Universe. From this perspective the abstract experience of this installation can be understood as an exploration of our relation to the Universe by simultaneously celebrating human achievement and the existential limitations of our being.

    In the installation three semi-transparent displays represent black holes located in the distant reaches of our Universe using a technique known as persistence of vision. The persistence of vision display consists of a single string of LED's spun at a high speed to draw images in the air by imprinting on our eyes as it spins. The affect of persistence of vision is used in this exhibit is used to express the elusive nature of black holes and the and their study.

    In nature black holes are sources of high energy activity that produce messengers that eventually travel Earth. The virtual black holes represent these sources an array of monitors positioned across from the black hole displays collects and assembles this cosmic message. Each monitor in the array offers a different perspective of the same virtual phenomenon through visualizations and sonifications of the simulated black hole messages in real-time. Touch screen interfaces allow the viewer to explore the data visualizations being presented on the screens. The result is a partial reflection of the phenomenon with each monitor showing only a limited and altered impression of the event that has occurred.