Semiconductor's Black Rain


What does solar wind look like? Oddly enough, it looks an awful lot like video art. Semiconductor, made up of UK artists Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt, recently posted a short video titled Black Rain, which is made up of images gathered from a satellite on a solar mission. The satellite tracks solar wind and coronal mass ejections (?!), producing flashing, stuttering flares, spinning dots of light that are actually planets and pulsating digital plaids. The three-minute piece is part of a longer 17-minute loop screened as part of an installation, but even at this length, online, it is absolutely a pleasure to view. Out of the Light, which the artists describe as a "CGI time based sculpture," examines celestial patterns using simple tools - tree branches obscuring a dazzling solar eclipse, for example. Designed to be a 10-minute projection screened onto the floor, the piece is represented with a short clip online that gives you a sense of the visual pleasure of natural phenomena. At work, I'm researching ways that aspects of science can get visualized, helping make the often distant or abstract notions of scientific theory more understandable. Semiconductor's work is a thrilling treat in this regard, framing the world's wonder in magical ways.