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Semiconductor Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt.: Heliocentric

Exhibition dates: 5 March - 30 April 2010
AV Late & Live Preview: Tuesday 9 March
6:00 - 8:00pm



Semiconductor are Brighton-based artists Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt. For over a decade they have worked with video, sound and digital animation to explore our relationship to scientific knowledge. The exhibition 'Heliocentric', part of the AV Festival 10: Energy, is the first UK show to present an overview of their recent work, alongside a major new work commissioned by AV Festival and Northern Lights Film Festival.

'Heliocentric' is a three-screen installation that uses time-lapse photography and astronomical tracking to plot the sun's trajectory across a series of landscapes. It continues the artists' examination of the disparities between how we imagine the world and what science has revealed about it. It is usually all but impossible to visualize how the earth moves around the sun. Instead we 'see' the sun move around us: it requires a counter-intuitive imaginative leap to believe we are moving around the sun at extraordinary speeds. 'Heliocentric' uniquely enables us to gauge the earth's rotation and orbit around the sun. The entire environment feels to pan past each camera whilst the sun stays in the centre of each frame.

The 'heliocentric' view of the universe - that the sun is the centre of the universe - was debated from the third century BC onwards and remained contentious until 17th century and marked the origins of modern scientific enquiry. Steven Hawking has described Galileo's commitment to the idea that the earth rotates around the sun, against official opposition, as "responsible for the birth of modern science".

The sun is the ultimate source of almost all energy and life in our solar system: it makes up an incredible 99.9 % of the total mass of our solar system. With their camera lens staring straight at the sun, Semiconductor capture an ecstatic excess of light energy. Strange visual effects being to appear: lens flares and glare spill over the landscape, white-outs burn into the image, and colours bleed into one. The power of the sun exceeds what both the human eye and the artificial eye of the camera can bear. Whilst our knowledge of the universe is ever growing, we can only encounter and know it from our own humble vantage point.

Semiconductor have exhibited in venues from the Smithsonian Institute to the Gare St Lazare, Paris. Three recent works shown here are the results of a five-month fellowship at NASA's Space Sciences Laboratory in California. There, the artists explored the techniques, materials and ideas the NASA scientists use to discover and experience 'near space'. These works reveal worlds that are beyond our sensory awareness, allowing us to grasp physical phenomena beyond our immediate experience.

Sound by Semiconductor and BJ Nilsen

In production Autumn 2009.
HD multi-screen installation and single screen version.
A Semiconductor work by Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt.Sound by Semiconductor and BJ Nilsen. Courtesy Semiconductor

Stills from 'Magnetic Movie', 2007. Courtesy Semiconductor

Stills from 'Brilliant Noise'2006. Courtesy Semiconductor

'Heliocentric' is commissioned by AV Festival and Northern Lights Film Festival. The exhibition is part of:
AV Festival 10: Energy
5-14 March 2010
NewcastleGateshead, Sunderland, Middlesbrough: