Camera Lucida

"Camera Lucida: Sonochemical Observatory" is an immersive spatial art work by Evelina Domnitch and Dmitry Gelfand.

Camera Lucida

Domnitch / Gelfand: Camera Lucida

Camera Lucida creates a fleeting ephemeral materiality by intersecting ultrasound with hyperlight, in essence it creates an unstable sonic aurora. Developed in collaboration with numerous physics research labs the 'observatory', a transparent gas-filled chamber, converts sound waves into visible light by employing a phenomenon known as sonoluminescence.

Here, gaseous micro-bubbles injected within a fluid medium are blasted with ultrasound causing them to implode, at which point they become as hot as the sun and release light energy in the form of sound waves. By modulating, or 'playing' the ultrasonic transducers attached to the glass chamber an ever-changing sonochemical environment, visible only within a sheath of extreme darkness, emerges. Theories for the cause of the glow from the collapsing bubbles are still the realm of exploratory and to some extent speculative physics ranging in abstract theories from black-body radiation and plasma ionization to quantum vacuum fluctuations. The Camera Lucida: Sonochemical Observatory creates a rare opportunity, as a powerful aural and visual experience, to encounter this volatile phenomenon outside the confines of highly specialized sonochemical laboratories.

Belarussian/American artist duo Evelina Domnitch and Dmitry Gelfand's practice creates cross-disciplinary art works that integrates physics, chemistry and computer science with philosophical practice. With the Camera Lucida they work to harness wave phenomena, both as sound and light in order to examine intrinsic questions of spatial perception and perpetuality. Although they collaborate closely with scientific laboratories in Japan, Germany, Russia, Belgium, Belarus, and the U.S their interest moves beyond a purely scientific investigation of our world into an exploration of contemporary thought. These collaborations illustrate that despite the omnipotence of technology, science alone cannot encompass the unrecordable workings of consciousness. Having dismissed all forms of fixative and recording media, Domnitch and Gelfand's installations exist as unstable, ever-transforming phenomena offered for observation. Because the rarely seen manifestations the artists employ take place directly in front of the observer without the distortion and flattening effect of screens and monitors, the art works serve to vastly extend the observer's sensory envelope. The immediacy of this experience allows the viewer/listener to transcend the illusory distinction between scientific discovery and perceptual cognition.

Camera Lucida was exhibited at V2_ between January 25 and February 3, 2007.

An article on Camera Lucida by the artists, published in: LEONARDO, Vol. 37, No. 5, pp. 391–396, 2004 be read here (PDF).


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