Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Bergen, University of Brighton and ‘ANTARCTICA’, Haugar Vestfold Kunstmuseum, Tonsberg, 2007-10

An audio-visual installation featuring two scaled-up floor tom drums, linked together by an 11.000 year old lacustrine mud core, and being continuously ‘played’ when hit by cosmic rays. Inside each drum, a Geiger Counter triggers a beater to make it play each time it is struck by a cosmic ray.

On the top surface, each black drum head is filled with water, so that it ripples when the drum is invisibly struck to make a pattern similar to a rain drop.

Cosmic Rays are radioactive particles that are emitted by every star, including our sun. They travel through space and the strongest ones pass through any object in their path.

Standing by one of the drums, each time you hear it play, a Cosmic Ray has passed through the drum and through you to continue its journey across the universe. The top head (skin) of each drum is covered with water so that it ripples each time the drum is struck.

I began this work having seen the paper on Cosmic Rays written by Giles Harrison and David Stephenson, and carried out a series of audio experiments, using Geiger Counters, activated by cosmic rays, to trigger sounds via a computer.

I began researching two versions of TIMELINE - one using drums, all having a variety of different sounds and connotations; the other using MIDI-controlled pianos, to play a note in a pre-determined sequence each time the piano is struck. During this period I was also invited to take part in a planning meeting for an experiment concerning cosmic rays at the CERN underground particle accelerator in Switzerland

TIMELINE was initially installed in Brighton as part of my University of Brighton Inaugural Professorial Lecture, and will shortly be reinstalled in the new University of Bergen Student Reception Building.


website:Wil Baldwin