Manuel Abendroth, Jerome Decock, Els Vermang
Technique: Geiger-Mueller tubes, fluorescent light tubes, speakers, custom tailored electronics, generative software
The artwork aims to decode the universe’s cosmic rays by rendering them into light and sound. Cosmic rays are high-energy particles that circulate in the interstellar space. These rays pass through our atmosphere, rocks and buildings and penetrate deep into our planetary soils and subsoils. Charged with energy, they are at the base of 14 percent of the radioactivity on earth. The source of their radiation is, depending on their energy, the activity of the Sun for those of lower energy, Supernovas for those of average energy and of Pulsar for those of ultra-high energy. Cosmic rays are measured using Geiger counters. Each of them is combined with a fluorescent light tube and a speaker. The intensity of their light raises each time the tubes are crossed by a cosmic ray, as is the intensity of the sound each time the corresponding Geiger counter measures a cosmic ray. In this way, the installation makes the invisible visible and the inaudible audible. The study of cosmic rays gives us indications of the birth and expansion of the cosmos. Since light travels faster than cosmic rays, they arrive on Earth up to 10 million years later than the extinction of the star itself. As such it leads us directly to the relativity of time: we measure something which does not exists anymore. Cosmic rays are carriers of this past existence. The artworks title ‘OMG’ refers to the name of the highest-energy cosmic ray detected so far. It speed was about 99.99999999999999999999952 times the speed of light. Its source presumably being a black hole, galaxy collision or a Magnetar, they all act like particle accelerators though allow the particle to be traveling about 10 million times faster than those produced by terrestrial particle accelerator. Contrary to most other astronomic discoveries which are based on models sought to be proven, its existence never before had been scientifically anticipated – and as such led to true amazement, hence its title.
OMG is realized with the financial support of the Commission des Arts Numériques de la Communauté Française de Belgique.