Geist - CODAworx

Geist

Client: Touring artwork

Location: Somerset, United Kingdom

Completion date: 2024

Artwork budget: $99,000

Project Team

Lead artist

Harriet Lumby

This is Loop

Lead artist

Alan Hayes

This is Loop

Executive producer

Katie Maddison

This is Loop

Creative coding

Motus Art

Sound artist

Dan Bibby

Science collaboration

STFC (Science and Technology Facilities Council)

Science collaboration

Physics Department, Oxford University

Overview

Working with world-leading particle physicists, This is Loop have been inspired by the elusive neutrino or ‘ghost particle’ and Geist explores the hunt that is played out in enormous neutrino detectors to prove the existence of these particles. Geist is a touring artwork designed for exhibition in the public realm and is expected to see audiences of upwards of 2 million over 5 years.

Geist is a large-scale sculpture and shaped like an octagonal carousel, 6m in diameter, each of its faces a 3x3m window into a figment of reflection and light, created by a mirror illusion and showing a suspended illuminated orb. The illusion is interactive; only by the proximity and movement of the audience, does the suspended particle of light come to life. Individually addressable LED modules start flickering and glimmering in the presence of people. The public are the cause of the artwork’s existence, their interactions eliciting a response from the artwork; a version of the ‘hide and seek’ played out in a neutrino detector where only an interaction with an atom reveals the neutrino.

Materials: Aluminium framework, aluminium composite mirror sheeting in chrome and gold, Richlite™ sheeting, LED panels and custom individual LED Pixel Modules.

Goals

The aim with Geist was to create an interactive sculpture to sit at the intersection of art, technology and science. It was important that the sculpture be mesmerising to look at on the surface but also for the piece to communicate on several different levels; introducing the concept of particle physics on a name-check level, but also going deeper to interpret and mimic complex scientific experiments and provide a conduit to encourage curiosity of the scientific theories and potentially inspire awe and further understanding.

Process

Once the concept of Geist had taken shape we began to engage with potential science partners and artists specialising in audio and coding that we could collaborate with to bring it to life.
The scientific narrative of Geist involved input from particle physicists at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, part of the Science and Technology Facilities Council, and the Physics Department at Oxford University. The collected group of physicists have provided access to and context for real
neutrino oscillation measurements from the T2K neutrino experiment in Japan. In collaboration with new-media artist Motus Art and sound artist Dan Bibby, This is Loop have re-interpreted actual neutrino interactions seen by T2K, using input from cameras with AI person detection and complex code, into the animation of moving light and audio for Geist. The type of ‘neutrino’ seen will depend on the neutrino oscillation probabilities from T2K. When the audience ‘interacts’ with the sculpture, Geist will reflect a visual and audio representation of the detection of a neutrino.