Brilliant Noise at SESC Brazil (left) in 2010 and Recombinant Media Labs (right) in 2006. Credit: Semiconductor.
Semiconductor: Brilliant Noise (2006)
Ruth Jarman and Joseph Gerhardt are a filmmaking duo known as ‘Semiconductor’ who explore a range of scientific (and sci-fi) themes about the natural world: volcanic eruptions, geo-magnetism, Earth’s rotation, etc. Their work often combines sound, data visualization, and animation — all of which play a part in activating your mind. Semiconductor use both art and science to offer new perspectives. In an interview for Creators Project, Jarman says:
We’re really interested in how man experiences the nature of the physical world around him and how the tools of science come into that; how they help form that understanding or experience of the world.
Back in 2006, they participated in a six-month fellowship at UC Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory (in partnership with NASA and Leonardo/ISAST) and sifted through open-access archives. They extracted time-lapse footage of the sun to create Brilliant Noise, a film and immersive art installation that amplifies the flaws of satellite feeds:
Brilliant Noise takes us into the data vaults of solar astronomy. After sifting through hundreds of thousands of computer files, made accessible via open access archives, Semiconductor have brought together some of the sun’s finest unseen moments. These images have been kept in their most raw form, revealing the energetic particles and solar wind as a rain of white noise. This grainy black and white quality is routinely cleaned up by NASA, hiding the processes and mechanics in action behind the capturing procedure. Most of the imagery has been collected as single snapshots containing additional information, by satellites orbiting the Earth. They are then reorganised into their spectral groups to create time-lapse sequences. The soundtrack highlights the hidden forces at play upon the solar surface, by directly translating areas of intensity within the image brightness into layers of audio manipulation and radio frequencies. —Semiconductor