science art

This A/V Installation Lets You Explore an Infinite Subatomic Realm

Tarik Barri’s 'Matter of Perspectives' takes inspiration from the teeny tiny world of nanotechnology.

by Kevin Holmes
Mar 28 2017, 2:51pm

Images courtesy of the artist

Cutting edge nanotechnology research forms the basis for a new audiovisual work by Dutch artist Tarik Barri. Barri's previous collaborations have seen him create visuals for Radiohead and Nicolas Jaar, and immersing viewers into cosmic abysses. His latest is a collaboration with the International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory (INL) in Braga, Portugal along with the city's art center gnration as part of their Scale Travels program.

Barri has been artist-in-residence at the lab, and Matter of Perspectives while there. The installation imitates the apparent boundlessness of the nano-world using custom software developed by the artist.

Photo by gnration.

"During my residency at INL I became fascinated by how fundamentally different matter seems when you look at it on the nano-scale," Barri tells Creators. "Gravity, for instance, which determines much of how the macro-universe behaves, has almost no effect on the nano-scale, where nuclear and electromagnetic forces become much more dominant. Also the very nature of matter itself seems very different depending on which scale you look at it. What seems chaotic from afar, can contain an unexpected order within, that itself turns into chaos when one looks even more closely. As one zooms in further and further, it seems as if each reality contains within itself another vastly different one, nested one in the other like Russian dolls."

The artist used this world-within-worlds approach for Matter of Perspectives, but created a virtual world that constantly zooms in on itself so you can explore new tiers. Like the nano world, each layer has its own governing principles, defining the shapes, colors, and actions, materializing naturally from the preceding one.

In this way, the science of nano exploration at INL—that it delves ever deeper into the quantum world to understand its strange behaviors—is reflected in Barri's approach. Instead of the laws of quantum physics governing a quantum realm, however, Barri's "virtual matter" is governed by machine laws: algorithms. "This sometimes leads to results that look surprisingly much like what one would find under an electron microscope in the lab," notes Barri.

With the visuals not unlike some of visuals found in the nano world, Barri explains he wanted the sound to reflect the laws and forces that apply to these. Which means by zooming and expanding time the audio lowers its pitch before eventually becoming inaudible, and a new force can be heard rising.

"The result is an audiovisual experience where both time and space constantly expand, as we see structures grow, experience time slowing down, and types of matter appear and falls apart as we travel nearer and nearer towards the infinitely small," notes the artist. "As the institute explores laws of nature, in my world I created virtual laws which I explore artistically."

You can hear Barri talk more about Matter of Perspectives in the video below.

Matter of Perspectives is on now until June 17, 2017 at the INL Gallery, gnration, Braga, Portugal. The Scale Travels program is a collaborative program focusing on nanotechnology and art, promoted by the International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory (INL) and gnration. Find out more about Tarik Barri's work on his website.

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