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Interview with Semiconductor

Ahead of their exciting exhibition at our Wired Women* Festival, we posed a few questions to Semiconductor to find out a bit more about their work.

Read on to see what the dynamic duo had to say.

Hello! Tell us a bit about yourselves; who are you, and what do you do?

We’re the artist duo Semiconductor, we’ve been working together for more than 20 years creating artworks which explore the material nature of the physical world and how we experience it through the lenses of science and technology. Over the years we have carried out numerous residencies in international science laboratories such as CERN and NASA Space Sciences Laboratory Berkeley, to research the languages, processes and philosophies of science. Our artworks blend experimental moving image techniques, scientific research and digital technologies.

How did Semiconductor come to be?

We started working together around 1997 post art college. We experimented making artworks with the computer as a way to try and understand how we could work with it as an artistic material and set about finding our own language with it. We initially made experimental moving image works which unpicked the zeros and ones, the group name Semiconductor came out of this experience, where we realised that the computer was the third member of our group as you could never truly remove the computers signature from the artwork, it was semi-conducting the process. We acknowledged this and started to give the computer certain ‘choices’ in the artwork.

What are you most excited about with NEoN’s festival this year?

It’s great to have the opportunity to exhibit our new work at Mills Observatory in Dundee. It’s the perfect siting for the work as it speaks to our drive as humans to look out from our planet to what lies beyond.

What will you be exhibiting and why is it important to you?

We are premiering our work Spectral Constellations, a series of generative animations driven by scientific data of young stars. It has been made as a result of our residency with the Planet Disk Connection Group of physicists at the University of Dundee.

We have spent the past couple of years conducting research into the work the scientists do in studying the light emitted from distant young stars to learn about how planets form. We’re interested in looking at matter through the languages, processes and technology of science as a way to reflect on how we perceive the world and question our place in the larger universe.

What key messages do you want to convey with your work and how do they feed into this year’s NEoN theme of Wired Women*?

As a female artist I [Ruth] have been experimenting with cutting edge technologies and science for more than twenty years, in a field which has mainly been male dominated. A certain persistence and determination have enabled me to transcend any hurdles along the way. Continuing to be present and seen in this context is important in the ongoing development to normalise the female voice in this context.

You work with raw scientific data in a lot of your pieces, why is that what about it appeals to you?

To us raw scientific data is information which has been captured by the technology before it has been processed for scientific consumption. It tends to contain the signature of the capturing technology and artefacts associated with the capturing process. These signify the presence of the human observer and raise questions about how our experiences of the natural physical world are mediated through science and technology. If it is numerical scientific data then, as is the case with Spectral Constellations we explore it as a physical medium, to sculpt and realise form and motion.

How does this piece compare to your previous works?

Other artworks include HALO, a large-scale immersive artwork developed as a result of our residency at CERN the European Laboratory for particle physics, Earthworks a five-channel computer generated animation, which creates an immersive experience of the phenomena of landscape formation through the scientific and technological devices that are used to study it and As the World Turns is a moving image science fiction, which explores man’s place in time and space, through the science of radio astronomy.

What projects do you currently have in the pipeline and will you be bringing any of them back to Dundee?

We are currently working on two new large-scale site-specific projects which we are not allowed to reveal any specific details about at the moment. One is a permanent kinetic sculpture for a new building in London and the other is a generative animation, all will be revealed in 2022!

Interview conducted by Cracking Social Media

Image Credit: Spectral Constellations, By Semiconductor

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