Ever wondered what the sun sounds like, or how it smells?
Energies: Haines & Hinterding is a ground-breaking exhibition from artists David Haines and Joyce Hinterding that explores the nexus between art and science and revealing the unseen world of invisible forces that dominate the universe.
The exhibition is being brought to the Perth Institute Of Contemporary Arts (PICA) courtesy of the Museum Of Contemporary Art (MCA) in Sydney and curator Anna Davis says it is an experience like no other.
“The first thing I’d say about David and Joyce’s work is that it’s quite unexpected for people,” Anna says.
“It’s very multi-sensory, so the whole exhibition is quite interactive and participatory, but it’s also dealing with things that aren’t necessarily visible. There are lots of hidden energies and unseen forces; things like television signals, very low frequency (VLF) radio waves, but they’re also interested in psychic energies and paranormal things. So lots of things that perhaps exist and we can’t see them and their work brings all this together.”
Although David and Joyce’s work is theoretically based on scientific principles, their execution of the art itself and the way audiences can interact with the works can bring a whole new level of understanding to otherwise esoteric ideas.
“When you read about David and Joyce’s work that’s one thing,” Anna explains. “There are all these big words and lots of science mixed in with the art, but when you actually experience it, it’s really immersive, exciting interactive work.
“We’ve had a particularly great response from young people coming in and being able to touch drawings and make music from them. Usually in an art gallery, you see a drawing on the wall and you’re definitely not allowed to touch it; in this show there are certain works where you’re actually allowed to touch it and by touching it, your hands and the electricity that’s in your body makes a circuit with the graphite drawing, and that creates a sound.”
David and Joyce also explore the phenomenon of ‘natural radio’, where they use antenna arrays that key into VLF radio waves and allows them to ‘listen’ to signals created by forces of nature, for example, the sun.
“Their work Earth Star focuses on the sun... In that work you get to look at an amazing close-up image of the sun David’s filmed with a special kind of lens. You also get to listen to the sun using these amazing antennas.
“Then you get to smell what they imagine the sun smells like. David’s made some perfumes out of things like ozone, particular molecules that the sun does affect or produce, and has created two types of fragrances you can actually smell in the space.”
Random related factoid: the galaxy smells like raspberries. There’s a dust cloud near the centre of the galaxy called Sagittarius B2 in which astronomers have found an abundance of the chemical ethyl formate (C3H6O2), which is the dominant flavour in raspberries. Now you know.
Ultimately, the Energies exhibition and the continued collaborative work of David and Joyce have formed an artistic dialogue with science, which helps to transcend the intellectual barrier that often divides the two fields.
“There’s something really fantastic when artists get their hands on science,” Anna says.
“What they can do is give the ordinary person, the general public or someone off the street an understanding of something in a way that perhaps a scientist never could.”