In its new location within National Glass Centre, Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art will reopen with a major new commission by artist Fiona Crisp.
Fiona Crisp explores how we might encounter spaces where the frontiers of knowledge are being expanded. Material Sight is a new, large-scale commission that uses photography, moving image and sound to approach the material environments where experiments that challenge the limits of our imagination are carried out. For nearly two years Crisp has worked with three world-leading research facilities for 'fundamental science': Boulby Underground Laboratory, sited in the UK's deepest working mine, Durham University's Institute for Computational Cosmology and Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso, the world's largest underground laboratory for particle physics, housed inside a mountain in central Italy.
Across all these sites, knowledge is pursued at scales and distances beyond our human sensing, from the macro scale of the multiverse to the micro scale of the sub-atomic world. In Material Sight, Crisp explores how we might counter this sensory remoteness, not through a documentary narrative but by being placed into a physical, tangible relation to the spaces and laboratories where the science is performed; to this end Crisp builds a landscape of image and sound, augmenting the gallery architecture with scaffolding walls that support a cycle of large-scale photographs and moving image works.
Boulby Underground Laboratory is over a kilometre beneath the Earth's surface and is, in the team's own words, "a special place: 'a quiet place in the universe' where studies can be done almost entirely free from natural background radiation." Within environments such as these, some of the most complex questions about the structure and history of the universe are being trialled, yet the sites themselves, as well as the science that is performed in them, are often invisible or inaccessible to the public at large.
Through a combination of photography, moving image and sound Material Sight places us in a physical relation to the extraordinary endeavour of fundamental science, where knowledge is pursued at the furthest reaches of our human imagination. From June 2018 Material Sight will be exhibited at Arts Catalyst Centre for Art, Science & Technology, 74-76 Cromer Street, London, WC1H 8DR.