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Sub-atomic Antarctica translated through art

Do you crave to learn and experience the majesty of the natural world? In pursuit of sharing his artistic and scientific endeavours in unique environments, artist Donald Fortescue will give a public talk at the University of Tasmania this week.

Professor Fortescue is a well-known artist whose work is in permanent collections across the world. The talk entitled ‘Crafting Instruments for a Sea of Noise’ presents his sculptural ‘instruments,’ installations, video, sound works and images of Antarctica and the Mediterranean Sea. Professor Fortescue hopes that the event will intrigue a broad audience as he believes curiosity and exploration are interests we all share.

“I look forward to meeting and connecting with a new audience here at UTAS. I think my work will appeal to artists, scientists, musicians, instrument-makers, and anyone interested in exploring - I think that covers basically everyone in Hobart!”

Professor Fortescue aims to highlight the rich history of human engagement with the natural world and our constant efforts to gain a deeper understanding of our planet and our place within it.

"We are increasingly out of touch with the natural cycles of the planet and only by connecting more intimately with the natural world will we be able to ameliorate and cope with the radical anthropogenic climate changes that we are living through.”

His Antarctic project uses a range of digital technologies to reveal subatomic events taking place deep within the polar ice. Professor Fortescue hopes to reframe audience understanding of this remarkable environment by revealing subtle energies that are beyond our usual perception.

“Like a net cast into a sea of noise”

One of the works Professor Fortescue will discuss is ‘Axis Mundi,’ a timelapse video of 24 hours at the South Pole, combined with piano music created from data from the IceCube Neutrino Observatory, located deep within the polar ice at the Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station. ‘Axis Mundi’ provides a way for spectators to engage with awe-inspiring Antarctic incidents by capturing the rotation of the earth in space, the changing motions of the atmosphere, and the passage of subatomic particles through the polar ice.

“The Antarctic is almost an alien environment. It is as close as we can come to being on an alien world without having to leave our home planet and yet it is very intensely affected by human activity.

“I hope my work allows viewers to have both an other-worldly and intensely human experience of the Antarctic.”

In the Mediterranean Sea, Professor Fortescue engaged again with high energy particle astrophysicists, locating cosmic sub-atomic particles almost drowned out by the natural radioactivity of sea water. Despite being the most common sub-atomic particles in the universe, neutrinos are extremely difficult to detect, due to their low mass and lack of electric charge. Neutrino telescopes must be very large to detect the very few neutrinos that interact with matter.

“The Mediterranean is a very different environment to the Antarctic, but both are great places to locate neutrino telescopes.

“My sculptural instrument takes viewers deep into the sea like a net cast into a sea of noise.”

The event will hold a livestream for those unable to attend in person. The attendees must wear masks on the premises and be fully vaccinated or have an exemption.

The talk is being held on Wednesday 29 June 2022 from 5:30pm – 6:30pm in the Vanessa Goodwin Room, on level 4 of the Hedberg at 19-27 Campbell St, Hobart. Register to attend in person or online.

Published on: 27 Jun 2022 3:43pm