Newton Harrison visits ASN Studio

“The Deep Wealth of This Nation, Scotland” is an exhibition by the environmental art pioneers, the Harrisons currently on display at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA). The show is a collaboration between the Center for the Study of the Force Majeure (CFM) in California and the Barn in Aberdeenshire, along with the James Hutton Institute, Aberdeen. It is presented at ECA in association with Art, Space + Nature Masters Programme (ASN).

Following a public presentation and discussion to accompany the ECA exhibition on Thursday evening, we were honoured to have Newton Harrison visit the ASN studio on Friday. We were treated to a two-hour discussion and career overview from the internationally renowned artist and pioneer of the global ecological art movement. The collaborative team of Newton and his late wife Helen Mayer Harrison (often referred to simply as “the Harrisons”) has worked for almost forty years with biologists, ecologists, architects, urban planners and other artists to initiate collaborative dialogues to uncover ideas and solutions which support biodiversity and community development.


“The Deep Wealth of This Nation, Scotland” is an original vision to see how one small country can mobilise as a nation to be the first industrialised country to move past the carbon cycle and become the first nation to give more to the global environment, which the Harrisons call the Life Web, than it consumes.  This vision which takes form as a poem, transcends political and social boundaries and encourages the possibility of collective action at all levels in society.

For more details visit

ASN success in the 2018 Biennale, Land Art Generator Initiative

A team of students from Art Space + Nature have been shortlisted, down to the last twenty-five, in an international competition which attracts hundreds of proposals.

The Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) is an international, biennale design competition that brings together artists, designers, architects and engineers alike in order to design large scale public artworks capable of generating renewable energy.  With a new international site selected every two years, the goal of the initiative is “… to accelerate the transition to post-carbon economies by providing models of renewable energy infrastructure that add value to public space, inspire, and educate—while providing equitable power to thousands of homes around the world.”

Board 1

This year, eight Art, Space and Nature students collaborated on ‘GLASS  BOULDERS’,  an immersive series of sculptures formed of transparent glass solar panels for the St.Kilda triangle in Melbourne, Australia. The proposed design not only seamlessly embedded itself into to landscape and provided unique experiences for individuals in the space, but was also able to optimise the efficiency of the technology implemented through the utilisation of a parametric design, layering the glass solar panels as to maximise the amount of infrared light they could capture. Additionally, the modular design allowed for future expansion of the work based on current energy demand, with the initial amount of energy production being 690MWh.

Render 2

So congratulations to the ASN team:

Andrew Ioannou, Audrey Yeo, Becky Sutton, Cody Lukas Anderson, Di Jiao, Luis Guzman Martinez, Mungki Jati, Natalia Bezerra

‘GLASS BOULDERS’ will now take part in a touring exhibition around Australia, as well as being included in ENERGY OVERLAYS, the LAGI 2018 publication,  which will be launched on the 11th of October in Melbourne.

More information about LAGI at:

ASN student exhibits at The Lighthouse – Scotland’s Centre for Architecture and Design

ASN student, Cody Lukas Anderson, is currently exhibiting at the Lighthouse in Glasgow as part of an interdisciplinary collective from the University of Edinburgh. The other members of the Collective are Qingqing Zhang (MSc in Advanced Sustainable Design) and Sam Christopher Cornwell (MSc in Material Practice).

The exhibition, entitled ‘JUSTIFIED’, had its origins in a design project undertaken as part of the Material Technology elective, run by Professor Remo Pedreschi and Cristina Nan. The project was selected for funding by both the University and the Lighthouse for further development for the current exhibition.

The group explored digital fabrication applied to the structural properties of wood, using laser cutting and CNC-milling to create live-hinging. This resulted in a flexible module which has the capability of transforming into complex three-dimensional structures.


41166786_10156469520725446_1248541701547491328_nThe exhibition runs until the 28th of October, with workshops and Artist Talks being held on the 22nd of September and 6th and 27th of October.

ASN Student participates in Museum of Modern Art, New York, presentation and at the 2018 London Design Fair.

MFA Art, Space + Nature student, Luis Guzmán, is a member of the cross institutional, collaborative team, ‘MYCTERIALS’, which participated in the Biodesign Challenge, 2018 at MOMA, NY.

The Biodesign Challenge looks to celebrate the hybridation between biotechnology and design, fomenting creativity and challenging visions of the future.

“Our goals is to explore the possible uses of magnetic properties in creating mycelium based biomaterials.  

We plan to use embedded metal particles to direct mycelium growth. The magnetic pull on the particles would make mycelium grow according to magnetic fields. If planned carefully, mycelium can be grown into desired shapes.”

The Mycterials project is a result of the Biodesign course run by Dr. Larissa Pschetz (ECA) and Dr. Naomi Nakayama ( School of Biological Sciences), the team is also an interdisciplinary assemble from different schools within the University of Edinburgh. 

Laura Turpeinen, Fernanda Bolaños and Ivan Shrupov, from The School of Biological Sciences, and Luis Guzmán from ASN, Edinburgh College of Art. 

ASN partners, the Art + Science lab, ASCUS, and the mycologist Dr. Patrick Hickey also contributed to the project through intellectual and technical collaboration 

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The experience in New York was an opportunity to display the University’s interdisciplinary initiative in a edge-cutting environment  and to create important networks. Whilst in New York, Luis visited several academic institutions, including the Bioart Lab of the New York School of Visual Arts  and initiatives, like Terreform ONE a bio-inspired design hub based in New Lab, Brooklyn.

The Mycterials project has been invited to the 2018 London Design Fair in September 2018 were the university team will present the project amongst  550 exhibitors from 36 countries, including independent designers, established brands and international country pavillions._DSC1932IMG_8264IMG_82651

Tao Follows what is Natural: Di Jiao MA Art, Space & Nature

Something mysteriously formed,

Born before heaven and Earth.

In the silence and the void,

Standing alone and unchanging,

Ever present and in motion.

Perhaps it is the mother of ten thousand things.

I do not know its name

Call it Tao.

For lack of a better word, I call it great..


Human follows Earth.

Earth follows heaven.

Heaven follows the Tao.

Tao follows what is natural.

— Tao Teh King 25


Di Jiao, whose undergraduate Degree was in Landscape Architecture, has been influenced by her grounding in Chinese traditional culture. Her works associate with introverted oriental culture and profound philosophy. In her postgraduate studies, Jiao has explored cultural connotations with Chinese ancient philosophy and poetry in the landscape of Scotland.

Jiao’s first exploration of the Scottish landscape was during the first semester, on a field trip which looked specifically at the environment of the Flow Country in the North of Scotland.

Stroking the black peat, she listened to throaty roars of stags and poetry read by George Gunn. One day, lying in the quiet peatland alone, she felt the most primitive subtle connections between her and the wind, rain, plants, animals and earth. Thereafter, she created her first work ‘TAO’ in which she observed and understood what she felt through Taoist philosophy. “Tao follows what is natural” being her core concept.

910543366147827293‘Tao’ Tent Gallery, Edinburgh, 2017.


The work was in two parts, both film and sculpture, showing both process and output. In the sculptural component exhibit, she metaphors the natural undulating earth with crumpled paper on which the smoke of incense and melted frozen peat powder respectively flowed. Alongside, the processes of flow was filmed and subsequently exhibited together with a Chinese and Western poem.The Chinese poem was taken from “Burn Incense” by Chen Qufei in the Song Dynasty with equal words in each line, which talks about religious mood and burning of incense. The Western poem is an excerpt of George Gunn’s poem “Rain in August” with different words in each line.

358231058506130460Sculptures and poems
IMG_6014Still image of INCENSE
IMG_6015Still image of FROZEN PEAT


This work is a microcosm of nature. Traditional Chinese Taoist philosophers believe that the formation of the universe should follow the law of nature with the accumulation of tens of millions of years. In this work, whether the dense downwards-flowing smoke or the melting ice drops with the soil wrapped, both of them slowly flowed through nature’s fragmented landform, they intersect, separate, and then wind their way forward. As times goes on, the ash and water stains precipitate down with the veins of the paper, unconsciously revealing the most primitive bones and texture of nature. Chinese incense and ancient poetry, as well as the peat and George Gunn‘s poems in the culture of the Scottish Highlands, are all adopted in the work, black and white, fire and water, freedom and rule, and also faith and pursuit. They interact and mingle with each other, and they, are everything.


To develop a further understanding of Scottish culture and the history of peatland, her second work – “THE SHAPE OF NORTHERLY LAND” was a complete poem of George Gunn’s “A Walk in Strathnaver” , the text delineated with powdered peat. Thousands of years of accumulation not only formed peat, but also laid the foundation for Scottish literature. In the poetry of contemporary poet George Gunn, there are scattered memories and landscapes in the Northland. Beneath the foot of these fragments lie peat, which is dark and vulnerable, formed by mountains and lochs, oceans, sky, plants, Gaelic and generations of Scottish people for thousands of years.

Peat, the annual ring of Scotland.

Poem, the shape of the Northerly land.

53006716305409982Letters delineated with powdered peat
258248256936913015‘The Shape of Northerly Land’, Tent Gallery, Edinburgh, 2017


Surface engraved with a narrow stroke, path

between two points. Of singular thickness, a glib remark,

fragment, an unfinished phrase. Any one edge of a shape

& its contours in entirety. Melody arranged, a recitation,

the ways horizons are formed. Think of leveling, snaring,

the body’s disposition (both in movement & repose).

It has to do with palms & creases, with rope wound tight

on a hand, things resembling drawn marks: a suture

or a mountain ridge, an incision, this width of light.

A razor blade at a mirror, tapping out a dose, or the churn

of conveyor belts, the scoured, idling machines. 4 A conduit,

a boundary, an exacting course of thought. And here,

hammered-in tent stakes, shoveled earth, a trench.

(Donovan 2003:333)

The exploration of landscape was further developed in two subsequent works ‘ORAN’ and ‘DISAPPEARING LINES’.

ORAN’ which means poem and song, was made for the Art Space + Nature presentation at the 2018 Bookmarks Artists’ Book event. She embroidered on the six-layer yarn with different heights of undulating lines, which represent not only the mountains, but also undulating sound waves and traces of human exploration. Turning each layer of yarn, the mountains will disappear layer by layer – presenting the perspective of getting closer and closer to nature. Gaelic names can be recognized clearly through each layer of yarn from different heights.

20180320_170022‘ORAN’, Bookmarks, Edinburgh, 2018
WechatIMG16The First page of ‘ORAN’
WechatIMG18Line with Gaelic name


The linear language of ‘ORAN’ was developed in ‘DISAPPEARING LINES’ for the group exhibition, ‘6Carbon’ at Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation.

Here, an image of a glacial landscape from Greenland was painstakingly detailed in needlework. In this work, the line represents time and space. It is the trajectory of the action, and the rise and fall of the sound waves. It is not only the outline of nature’s back bone, but also the mark of the melting and falling glaciers. As for her, she is a brave and inexperienced adventurer, unaware and perplexed. Using the needle and thread to follow the profile of the glacier, step by step, flutuating, exploring, wearying, melting and falling. The beautiful and fragile glaciers are named because of us, and finally disappear because of us. Who am I? I, am you.

imgdo152288647850022‘ Disappearing Lines’, Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation, Edinburgh, 2018



Following a second fieldtrip to the Black Wood of Rannoch (a remnant of the original Caledonian Forest), Di Jiao again brought a Chinese perspective to the Scottish landscape in the work ‘SHANSHUI’. ‘Shanshui’, in Chinese culture, means mountains and water, that is, landscape. In addition, this is also a very important category of Chinese painting, which contains the ancient Chinese traditional view of the universe and nature – the focus on harmony between heaven and man.

WechatIMG19‘Shanshui’, Patriothall Gallery, Edinburgh, 2018


The work is in two parts. The first being four pictures of ripples along the water surface – lines drawn by the wind, which unexpectedly resembles ‘Thousands miles of mountains and rivers’ painted by Wang Ximeng in China’s Northern Song Dynasty. The pictures show a strong oriental flavor, mountains and water, interweaving and overlapping at the moment of capture.

20180516_17103320180516_17181120180516_17195220180516_172016The second part is a natural ink landscape painting, derived from soaking wooden sticks in a liquid mixture, embodying natural processes – peat powder, tea and freshly grated plants. The process of soaking – thus, absorption of the mixture by the wooden medium – seeked to echo nature’s formation of peat.

20180524_190226The sticks were delicately arranged one by to form a natural ink paining. Taking a closer look at the dry water stains, the intricate details and textures of the painting is revealed.

20180515_172630Details of water stains


In this work you can find staticity within change, encounter the shadow of the mountain in the flow, and pursue the context of humanities within nature. Scotland has witnessed natural and cultural changes over thousands of years. These changes are thick ink; every inch of the land’s skin has been infiltrated by undulating and indelible marks made by nature with the passage of time, constituting the historical context.


Di Jiao’s final, degree show work, ‘EMBRYO’ returns to a research concern from her

final undergraduate project. That project was to design a cemetery which respected religion, and subsequently, to a feeling of awe for nature, through an intervention of people’s moods via manipulation of space, light and shadows. Though she was interested in the theme of life and death, her interests lies more in unfolding the eternal cycle of birth and death as well as life vitality. The name of her degree show — ‘EMBRYO’ was inspired by the layout of some Chinese graveyards. In the preceding graveyard investigation, she found that a number of Chinese cemeteries looked like the shape of womb, provoking the thought of where we are from and where we will be going. The womb as a symbolism and juncture point that contains both life and death, serves as an important starting point for the artist’s work.

Prior to developing her work, she conducted research by asking more than three hundred individuals to…

1/ describe the moment of a fetus curling within a womb;

2/ In nature and landscape, when and where makes you feel like you return to your mother’s womb?

‘EMBRYO’ is an installation which combines architectural space, video and audio.

poster-embryoThe space is enclosed in a womb like structure which the visitors enter, enclosed, sacred and full of vitality. It continues the ancient Chinese Taoist philosophies as in her previous works, and in combination of the selective natural element is sealed with multi-layered thin fabrics into a circular space at the very center of a dark space. The circle represented the origin of consciousness of the universe in ancient China and thus, is the origin of life. In Taoism, the universe revolves back and forth, and all the birth, development, death of nature and social phenomena took place in the endless motion of this revolution. In this case, circle becomes the most important and essential part of Chinese cultures and could be seen in almost all the domains of religion, architecture and historical cultures.embryo layout


In her work, the circle is not only a sacred religious symbol but also a safe enclosed space. The crimson leaf veins printed on each layer of cloth of the circle look like the infinite expansion of blood capillaries and vessels to all directions, creating a uterine mucosa which belongs in the natural, which wraps humans in by layers. Around the circular device are three projectors, simultaneously projecting the video of what was previously recorded during the field trip – an orange flickering video clip recorded when driving through the woods, captured with hands covering the lens, as if one is passing through the woods with their eyes closed – onto the central hanging fabrics. As visitors walk into the middle of the circle, they feel wrapped. At the same time, when the orange light shines on the cloths, the crimson leaf veins on them pulsate like the blood vessels with heart beats under shadows of light and shade, as if one is curling up in the womb of the great nature, looking at the outside world of skins.



A collection of natural sounds from the streets, coast and forest were used to create audio which bring a background harmony to the whole space. Within the circle, visitors can hear these sounds while being immersed in the natural womb installation.

  1. Tzu, Lao; Butler-Bowdon, Tom. (2012).Tao Te Ching.In Tao Te Ching (pp29–224). Hoboken, NJ: Capstone.
  2. Donovan, M. (2003) ‘Line’, Poetry, 181(5): 333.
  3. Tim Ingold, Lines: A Brief History. (London and New York: Routledge, 2007, 186pp., illustrated, pbk, ISBN 978 0 415 424271)
  4. Gunn, George (2013) A Northerly Land.[Online]. Available at: 2nd Dec 2013)




Towards the Essence of Matter: Russell A. Beard MFA Art, Space & Nature

July 2018

With a background in ecological science, speculative realism and documentary storytelling Russell Beard, (MFA Art Space &Nature) presents a body of art work that is the result of an on-going exploration at the intersection of Heideggerian philosophy, dark ecology, and quantum mechanics.

Using video installation, printmaking and sculpture (incorporating both found objects and recycled materials as well as and digital fabrication and computer modelling), Beard attempts to communicate truthfully what is not immediately perceptible at our human spatio–temporal scale.

By combining what we know to be true about the structure of space and time – the essence of matter at the finest scale, with an interest in how language and stories are central to our identity and shared sense of place, the artist unites our current theories about the fundamental nature of things, with our lived experience of the world.

From the Arctic-Circle to the Amazon, the high Andes to the Himalayas, Beard has spent the last ten years at the frontlines of climate change as producer and presenter of ‘Earthrise’ -Al Jazeera’s multi award winning environmental TV series created by Neil Cairns. By highlighting the positive work of progressive governments, grassroots community groups, innovators & activists who are rising the the environmental challenges that we are facing, Russell’s reports cover the most significant ecological and socio-economic threats to our civilisation such as rapid deforestation, air pollution, food security and ecosystem collapse.

In troubled times such as these such a shift in focus from reporting on the way things are – to re-imagining who and what we are may be understood as a natural response to fully apprehending the scale and severity of the environmental catastrophe which is currently unfolding. Perhaps during the sixth mass extinction, it is natural to turn to thoughts of the sacred and examine the invisible power of story – the intangible frameworks of perception which constitute our shared consensus reality. Like the agar jelly in a lab-experiment, ‘story’ is our growth media, the translucent stuff that feeds our slime-mould civilisation, firing our imagination, motivations, purposes and passions. Stories are the scaffolding of our homes and the mortar and the flagpoles onto which we tie our identities.

But our old story is broken, no longer “fit for purpose” … Things are changing so rapidly that we are in desperate need of a new set of concepts to bridge the nature-culture gap and address the mass cognitive dissonance brought about by trying to live as ‘business as usual’ despite the apparent consequences of overpopulation and unfettered capitalism.

Inspired by a close reading of Soil and Soul, (McIntosh 2004) 2017 saw the successful amalgamation of Russell’s environmental journalism and desire to make ecological art.

The book uses a case study of a proposal to establish a massive super-quarry in the pristine landscapes of southern Harris in the Scottish Hebrides and details the islanders’ resistance and eventual success in halting the project after a thirteen year public enquiry, known as The Battle for Roineabhal).

In response Russell produced a series of sculptures that recognised the mountain as a geo-socio catalyst in a body of work entitled “Solte Teine: Seeds of fire and the Mythopoesis of a Mountain”.


With the help of ASCUS art and science lab, he began working with the vibrant materiality of mineral crystallisation as a visual metaphor for the constellatory power of making and telling stories to form resilient global networks of grassroots resistance.

The recurring theme of identifying new frameworks of thinking about our selves and our relationships to each other and the planet was evident in another show at the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation (ECCI)

Using salvaged steel and found objects “CONATUS”, “CONSILIENCE” and “AFTER THE STORM” – (All 2016) are each concerned with material truths about the nature of growth, change and impact of human species on the earth’s natural systems.

“HYPEROBJECTS: REPRESENTED IN 21 CUBES” relates to the writings of Timothy Morton and a group of philosophers known as “Speculative Realists”. These thinkers work at the intersection of object-orientated thought and ecological studies to advance Heidegger’s anthropocentric subject / object “Correlationism”. They draw on scientific advances and new technology to pioneer new ways of perceiving the world outside of the human perspective.

A series of cubes were arranged outside and left to decompose for several weeks leaving smaller cubes peppered around the grounds referencing the “non local”, “viscous”, “inter-objective” nature of Morton’s “Hyper Objects” those entities such as Climate and radioactive waste that profoundly impact our lives and the more-than-human world in which we live and yet are so massively distributed in space and time as to be imperceptible directly by humans. (Morton 2013)


With “CONNATUS” or “THE NEXUS OF HUMAN AMBITION AND THE EARTHS CAPACITY TO SUSTAIN IT”: a sequence of “Necker Cubes” act as an optical illusion appearing to change orientation every 3 seconds. They create a sense of the uncanny that references instability in the “Anthropocene” in which climate change could be seen as a symptom of capitalism and human population growth, the resulting environmental impacts of which now threaten to undermine the earth’s natural systems on which we rely.

The series of Interconnected cubes increase in size, expanding with the “golden” ratio of 1.618 – precariously resting on the corner of what appears to be a massive submerged cube – referencing tipping points, melting ice-caps, rising sea levels and titanic hazards that are not fully understood. This the spatio / temporal gap between event Vs perceived impact also picks up on the Merkwelt / Wirkwelt concept of Barbara Adam’s ‘Timescapes of Modernity’ which talks of a “horizon of events” that is indirect, non-proportional, nonlinear and non local (B Adam 1998)


In his third piece “CONSILIENCE” : A series of steel bars twisted by hand to form a mutually supporting interdependent framework could be seen as representing a unity or “jumping together” of knowledge, a “federation of actants” (Bennett 2010) or one of Debhora Bird-Rose’s “multi species knots of ethical time” (Rose 2012)- i.e the interactions and textures in a self willed landscape that make you feel “part of the feast” (Plumwood, n.d.) Alternatively it could be read as a heuristic model of model of matter at the subatomic scale in which the actual structure is a covariant ‘field’ of discretely quantised particles.

after the storm

With “AFTER THE STORM” or “THE GREAT ACCELERATION AS SYMBOLISED IN A FOUND OBJECT” Russell presents a meter-long iron fencepost found entangled in the roots of a Scots Pine tree blown down in a recent storm.

The piece mirrors the “hockey-stick” graphs of 24 global indicators (i.e atmospheric CO2 concentration, deforestation, ocean acidification as well as storm frequency) that chart the “Great Acceleration” which began around the 1950s when our human socio-economic impact on the planet began to grow at exponential rates.

Physical chemical and biological processes are decomposing the artefact and returning the iron to the soil connecting us to geological time and inviting us to contemplate its simple, imperfect beauty and the perpetually transient nature of existence.

The desire to make some ‘thing’ that somehow truthfully represents reality which is in constant flux was evident in a solo show in 2016 entitled “KAINOS FE2O3 Explorations in Entropy” in which Beard, drawing on Barbara Adam’s notions of Natura Naturata /Natura Naturens (i.e concepts of nature manifest as physical stuff Vs nature as a force of perpetual becoming) (Barbara Adam 2004; Barbara Adam 1998) And referencing William Cronon’s insights into the “illusion of wilderness” (Cronon 1995) By engaging the dynamic chemical process of oxidisation and decomposition of iron, Beard uses rust to remind us that even something so seemingly fixed and permanent is in the process of change thereby highlighting the tension between the universal entropic tendency towards dispersal and life’s capacity to create order and beauty from chaos In a ‘negentropic’ “localised reversal of the arrow of time” (B. Adam 2006)

With Mark I A series of hand prints created in rust in reference Mans territorial urge to mark his environment . “Mark III: That Which Remains” is a print, of the artists naked body held in the ‘survival’ or ‘recovery position’ – (in which one is placed when sick or unconscious and at risk of asphyxiation). Created by repeated laying down on steel coated in a reagent to speed up the rusting process leaving the impression of a figure laying prostrate and fossil-like In a darkened space.


Part mausoleum, part archaeological dig the steel, is illuminated by a single angle-poise lamp lamp – easily anthropomorphised and appearing perhaps as a member of some future civilisation examining the traces of what remains of this thing called man. Blood red with the same compounds used to create the oldest known cave paintings and redolent of an iron-pan layer of ferrous leachate in waterlogged soil or the toxic lasagne of black-carbon, plastics and radioactive particulates that signify the new geological epoch known as the “Anthropocene”, this haunting work is a reminder that whether we like it or not we are all collectively leaving a mark which will remain identifiable for millennia to come.

In time of the Anthropocene, amid sea-level rise and mass extinction, making art – perhaps creativity of any kind – is a hopeful act. With Beard’s recent shift in focus from bio-chemical to quantum scale engagement with materiality he has embarked on a Jules Vernian quest for solid truth in the time of uncertainty. Tunnelling through the political and down beneath the biological and the chemical to the underlying physical level of reality in order to explore that strange world of electrons and quarks is perhaps a natural response to apprehending the scale of the ecological devastation which is underway. One can imagine how a shift in perspective to a worldview in which every-thing is essentially made up of the same stuff could make the current mass extinction somehow less horrifying.

In the final one of the series of MFA solo exhibitions in ASN’s Tent Gallery, Russell presented “Fieldworks”, a selection of intaglio prints and sculptures, in a minimal and poetic use of the space. Based on a close reading of the current theories of loop quantum gravity (Rovelli 2016; Rovelli 2004)(Baas Von Fraasen, Michel Bitbol)

fieldworks tent

By attempting to reveal or represent what we know to be true at the very most fundamental scale of reality Russell Beard’s recent work explores the intuitively familiar principals of Quantum Field Theory with its granularity, rationality and indeterminism and contributes to what Jane Bennet calls a “contemporary cultural landscape that is capable of inspiring wonder, even an energetic love of the world.” (Bennett 2001)

Produced by applying pigment to paper at high pressure with chemically etched metal plates – each print appears as continuous colour field but on closer inspection they separate into discretely quantized lattices creating a heuristic representation of the quantum gravitational field.

Emerging from the mesh of spectral lines and particles, one can detect highly complex patterns generated by a four-way symmetry that speaks to the perennial human urge to produce some kind of order from chaos. This geometry conveys a sense of the sacred, similar to a mandala or other form of religio-spiritual symbolism, that hints at the similarities between Buddhist and the quantum-mechanical world-view (the equations of which predict the contents of the periodic table of elements and provide compelling scientific proof that the nature of reality is indeed a constant flux of interacting fields of energy, suggesting a profoundly relational underlying unity of all things.)


alethia bright

The use of Ultra violet and far-red colours at the opposite limits of visible frequency relates to that which is beyond our ability to perceive directly – referencing Heidiggerian ontological philosophical ideas on truth or ‘Alethia’ (the paradoxical light that also conceals) (Heidegger 1996) While the act of applying pigment and then removing it prior to printing leaves layers of information and also produces patterns created by the absence of pigment that points to the “Negative Dialectics” of Theodor Adorno who, attempts to draw attention to that which is unknowable with his theories of ‘non-identity’… “objects do not go into their concepts without leaving a remainder” (Adorno 1975; Bennett 2010)

fieldworks 2


these prints seem to reveal a clear progression from Beard’s earlier video work that resulted from a journey to the Hebridean island of Harris and Lewis which utilised the same four-way symmetry. Played along with an excerpt from Dolmen Music by Merredith Monk, “ORIGINS” (2016) is 4 minutes 44 seconds and consists simply of a mirrored moving image of the cascading interference patterns created in water, sand and sunlight at the shoreline where a river meets the sea.


Alternatively it could be read as a time-piece, concerning the origins of our own vital materiality and how certain properties emerge from complex chaotic systems amid the on-going oscillations between the creative generative forces of life’s perpetual becoming and the dissipative cosmic processes of entropy and decay.

Origins streetview

Beards final project for the ECA Degree Show 2018 ‘Towards the Essence of Matter’ is the latest in a series of artistic investigations into various aspects our vibrant materiality – and an attempt at not simply representing the nature of reality at the finest granular scale but (as with the so called “redox reaction” central to the etching process (which sees an exchange of electrons from copper sulphate and zinc) it is an engagement with materiality at the quantum level.

The first of three works is a re-presentation of the so called ‘Standard model’ – a kind of pictographic periodic table of each of the seventeen fundamental quantum particles that (as far as we know) make up everything of substance in our universe (aside from gravity and dark matter).


17 boxes, screen printed glass, laser cut birch plywood, LED and battery pack. (17X) 10.5 x 10.5 x 10.5cm


Inspired by old scientific ‘magic lantern’ slides, the boxes display a series of Pictographs (pictures which resemble what they signify) ‘painted’ in photons. By speaking the names of the particles into a custom-made oscilloscope, energy from sound vibrations oscillate a laser beam via a mirrored membrane resulting in a signature unique to each particle name. These so called lisajous curves were then photographed with a long exposure and screen-printed onto seventeen glass plates.

The set of lacquered light-boxes reference Max plank’s “black box” thought experiment (which gave rise to the first quantum theory and lead Albert Einsteine to devise the first quantum-mechanical equations that proved the strange wave-particle duality of light) and in a sense creates a new logographical system of writing for that which is inaccessible though our five senses “It is in language alone that like knows like” (Adorno 1975) One is reminded of the wonderful ‘Landmarks’ by Robert Mcfarlane – the lyrical and eloquent love letter to language In which he explains how when we loose the words to describe something we often loose the ability to perceive it… “words act as compasses; place-speech serves literally to en-chant the land – to sing it back into being and to sing ones being back into it” (Macfarlane 2015).

By literally inspiring or breathing life into these particle names Russell succeeds in somehow  reanimating or  transmuting the words from nouns that are little more than arbitrary, albeit useful short-hand for a set of physical properties into living verbs that manifest as vibrant evocative images with the power to illuminate the imagination by pointing to the perpetual happening which is the very essence of matter –  and if “physical appearance, activities and meanings are the raw materials of the identity of places…” (Relph 1976) perhaps each of these images represent not just a quantum particle-field existing in abstract space but a discrete fundamental unit or quanta of place?


The second piece is based on a Victorian animation device known as a Praxinoscope or “action viewer”. It was a invented in France around the time that Max Plank and Albert Einstein first theorised that light was made up of fundamental particles or ‘Photons’ that “fall on us like a gentle hail shower” (Rovelli 2016) ushering in a new paradigm of particle physics known as Quantum Field Theory


Various Victorian furniture components, glass mirror, copper tape, lead solder, steel bearing 60cm x 60cm x 80cm


The Praxinoscope was the successor to the zoetrope but instead of a strip of images held inside a vertical drum the pictures sit on a horizontal plane . Beard has built this device using wood from various pieces of Victorian furniture and created three interchangeable image plates.

time pieces

 Copper Sulphate etched Zinc plates , (3X) 60cm dia

The images etched into zinc plates are representations of fundamental particles. Each plate corresponds to a different particle and starts with an atomic (‘Indivisible’) point that splits into orbital-like – lisajous curves before returning to the single point. Divided into twelve segments each plate references clock time – but instead of numbers positioned around the periphery the characters emerge from the center in a spiral – pointing to the scientific truth that Time is an emergent property -useful to measure movement or change between two or more variables but no longer useful to think of as some kind of Newtonian “cosmic cloak” under which we all sit (Rovelli 2016)


Using the same oscilloscope to give a physical form to the particle names each image can be read as a  phonetic unit of the word. Unlike logograms (used by quarter of the worlds population) – these don’t have word meanings but represent sounds – (as in phonetic or orthographical writing like Korean Hangul) – when phonograms are combined they create multi syllabic meaning and phrases.

When the praxinoscope is spun the phonograms appear in the mirrors to meld into one animated pictograph which resembles, signifies and represents a quantum field.

This project continues In the tradition of the pioneering photographers such as Eadweard Muybridge who saw himself as an explorer using art and photography “in the spirit of scientific enquiry”.( using his ‘Zoopraxiscope’ and animated sequence of a galloping horse he was credited with creating the first moving images to allow viewers to access a keener understanding of aspects of physical reality beyond the threshold of human perception.


By manifesting works of art, that illustrates, represents or even transcends  scientific or mathematical worldview is an iterative process. Much like our understanding of ecology that evolved from ideas of linear succession to a more dynamical moving tapestry “a patchwork quilt of living things, changing continually through time and space… the stitches in that quilt never hold for long” (Worster 1989)” We are in a state of perpetual becoming, of creating and recreating our understanding of the world and it is the task of poets, artists & philosophers to “cease being the handmaidens of science” (Rovelli 2018) but to trust in the power of poetics, creativity and intuition and strive for epistemological and inspirational symbiosis. In the words of Mauro Durato “radical change in our physical worldview is not just due to the invention of a mathematical formalism or to new empirical information coming from novel experiments, but it also implies a thorough modification of the fundamental concepts with which we interpret the world of our experience”. (Dorato 2016)


The third and final piece is a visual timeline of the discoveries of subatomic particles presented as an abstract film projected at the end of a blacked out tunnel in to which the viewer is invited to peer.

quantum cave

 Video, glass, birch plywood, 5.1 surround-sound speakers

Beginning with a single point of light of the ancient Greek atomistic world view – Beard “en-chants” the particles (Abram 2012) – using the words to split the atomic point of light into different orbits “Strange Quarks” and “Higgs Bosons”… the sound-waves oscillate a beam of photons via a mirrored membrane resulting in abstract patterns resembling particle-field orbitals which are recorded in ultra slow motion and played back at speeds corresponding to the year of their discovery.

New orbitals appear layering of one on top of the other, building in complexity creating a swarm of particles that appear to act and interact like a field and display a strange symmetrical quality. The unsettling low-frequency echoes are infact ultra high-speed recordings of the seventeen fundamental particles being spoken in the order in which they were identified. The howling cavernous noises are coupled with the surround-sound of a crackling fire coming from behind the viewer in a clear reference to ‘Plato’s Cave’ – a reminder that our understanding of the nature of matter and the fundamental constituents of “reality” is always partial and in a state of constant flux . While we may be calling back into the cave to Lucretius and the natural philosophers of ancient Greece telling them of quarks and electrons – in a sense we are still in the cave – straining to hear the echoes of our future-selves calling back to us perhaps sharing their secrets of ‘dark matter’ and maybe even the quantum-granular nature of spacetime.

The oscilloscope membrane itself could be seen as a metaphor for the scientific endeavour – like the permeable membrane that exists between the ideal platonic noumena – and the phenomenal “real world” of things. Perhaps it is the responsibility of the artists, scientists and shamans the “boundary crawlers” (Bennett 2001) to straddle this liminal terrain in order to reach into in the world of visions, intuitions and imaginations – and to return bearing gifts.

But why try to make art that explores this field which most of us have practically zero chance of actually understanding – either in the pure-mathematical sense or apprehending directly?

It’s about wonder. By drawing on the power of enchantment as an active agent Russell A. Beard is attempting to excite the ecological imagination with “ambitious naiveté” (Bennett 2010) In the hope of stimulating a higher level of consciousness grounded in scientific truth in an attempt to foster a sense of generosity, openness and reverence for the earth and all the other human and non human expressions of life with which we are intimately connected. In the words of Martha Rosler : to “rupture the false boundaries between ways of thinking about art and ways of actively changing the world.”

“nature-art creates machines that change attitudes, paradoxical devices that upgrade human consciousness changing peoples relations with one another and with non humans… we need art that does not make people think (we have quite enough environmental art that does that) but rather that walks them though an inner space that is hard to traverse” (Morton 2013)



Abram, David. 2012. The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Adam, B. 1998. “Timescapes of Modernity: The Environment and Invisible Hazards.” In , 3–19.

Adam, B. 2006. “Time.” Theory, Culture & Society 23 (2-3): 119–26. doi:10.1177/0263276406063779.

Adam, Barbara. 1998. Timescapes of Modernity the Environment and Invisible Hazards. Global Environmental Change Series. London ; New York: Routledge.

———. 2004. Time. Key Concepts (Polity Press). Cambridge, UK ; Malden, Mass.: Polity.

Adorno, Theodor W. 1975. Negative Dialects. Negative Dialects. Vol. 72. doi:10.2307/2024861.

Bennett, Jane. 2001. The Enchantment of Modern Life: Attachments, Crossings, and Ethics. Princeton University Press.

———. 2010. Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things. Durham, [N.C.]: Duke University Press.

Cronon, William. 1995. “The Trouble with Wilderness; Or, Getting back to the Wrong Nature.” Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature. Edinburgh University/Topics in Environmental Humanities ARCH11246/Cronon69_ARCH11246.pdf.

Dorato, Mauro. 2016. “Rovelli’s Relational Quantum Mechanics, Anti-Monism, and Quantum Becoming.” The Metaphysics of Relations, 1–27. doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198735878.001.0001.

Heidegger, Martin. 1996. Being and Time: A Translation of Sein Und Zeit. SUNY Series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy.

Macfarlane, R. 2015. Landmarks. Penguin Books Limited.

McIntosh, A. 2004. Soil and Soul: People versus Corporate Power. Aurum Press.

Morton, Timothy. 2013. Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World. Posthumanities ; 27.

Plumwood, Val. n.d. “Part of the Feast”: The Life and Work of Val Plumwood. National Museum of Australia.

Relph, Edward. 1976. Place and Placelessness. Research in Planning and Design ; 1. London: Pion.

Rose, Deborah Bird. 2012. “Multispecies Knots of Ethical Time.” Environmental Philosophy 9 (1): 127–40.

Rovelli, Carlo. 2004. Quantum Gravity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511755804.

———. 2016. Reality Is Not What It Seems. Penguin UK.

Worster, Donald. 1989. “The Ecology of Order and Chaos.” Environmental History Review, Vol. 14, (No. 1/2).







W and M lines




Time is both constantly present and yet elusive to us. We can try to visualise time and on a basic level think of imagery such as the ticking clock or the ever present digits that face us every time we open our phones but these images fail to acknowledge time’s inherent relationship to space. They function as abstract time-keepers that help us organize our lives, orchestrating where we have to be and when. “Time” socially exists as a practical necessity, allowing us to function as a global society. It is peculiar however that “the clock” has become synonymous with the word “time” and yet when looking at time in astronomical and physical terms it is better understood as a process instead of a noun. Rather than asking ‘what’s the time?’ or ‘what time is it?’ and reducing time to a utility, i.e the clock, Andrew engages with the concept of time as a necessary and inseparable component of space, light and matter in order to make a broader commentary on our relationship with our surroundings.

His work as a result focuses on placing time in this context by way of studying light theory, astronomy and the human experience. He navigates the tension between human subjectivity and broader astronomical processes. Using methods that demand rigorous and constant observation, he visually represent a process that we often only have intermittent insight into. Andrew invites the viewer to observe change over time in one instance, as articulated by specific physical phenomena, with an emphasis on the parameters of the human condition.

For example in Winter Solstice Andrew took photos of the same patch of sky every 15 minutes for 24 hours on December 21st 2017, the shortest day of the year. He then presented this series of 96 photos in a line to denote the linear way in which we “keep” time and to highlight the tension between the rigid analogue clock and the astronomical process that it measures. The result was a visually impacting line across the wall that at a distance seemed like a gradient shifting from black to grey and then back to black yet up close looked like screenshots or rather a film real of the sky.




Winter Solstice.jpg




On March 20th2018 Andrew repeated this process in order to produce a second line that documents the march equinox from the same place. This exhibited along with the winter solstice at this year’s Degree Show and is shown at the top of this blog entry.  The work is titled Solstice Lines: Edinburgh 2017-18 (55.9441° N, 3.1618° W) and is an on going piece. 2 out of a total 5 lines were shown in the degree show. Andrew has already photographed the summer solstice (21st June 2018) and will continue by photographing  the autumn equinox and the next winter solstice in the same manner from the same place. He’ll exhibit the final piece consisting of all 5 lines in the Tent Gallery in 2019.

Additionally he’ll continue comparing solar events at numerous other locations as part of the broader series Solstice Lines.

Individually these lines capture solar events. Highlighting the regimented nature of the analogue clock through composition whilst simultaneously illustrating a process that describes time through constant change. Collectively however, they document the earths orbit and axes by comparing the changing length of daylight and the varying climate at different points of the year from place to place.

Underlining every note of the work are the parameters of the artist’s subjective observation.

In Scattered Blue (below) Andrew adopted a similar approach. It is a development of one of the works, Sky Colour Swatches, shown in his’s solo show CYNAOMETER where he recorded the changing colour of the sky over the course of an evening.

Scattered Blue is a proposed installation in which stretched fabric sheets, or even glass (budget permitting), are placed in panels across a space.




Blue Sky Installation Edit




Each panel is a direct colour match with the sky at a specific time in the evening taken every 15 minutes. The work, through its composition, alludes to how light travels through the atmosphere by referencing the way blue light scatters through the earths atmosphere. The work simultaneously engages with a temporal dialogue as it demonstrates the changing blue of the sky in one instance yet if observed from the front, the viewer is looking at the average blue over the course of the evening.

The work therefor references the regimented analogue clock by documenting the colour of the sky every 15 minutes but it also speaks of the passage of time in terms of the physicality of light and the human perspective.

On another note, The Purkinje Effect has informed other aspects of Andrew’s work as it draws the focus towards our subjectivity in the context of the passage of time. The Purkinje effect is taken into account when estimating variable stars from earth; it is effectively the observation that in low levels of luminosity the human eye has a tendency to see things as more blue. Take moonlight for example, due to the fact its technically reflected sunlight, its luminosity is much lower than that of direct sunlight, however its Kelvin temperature is also lower making it more orange in colour. The silvery blue that we associate with moonlight is a product of the Purkinje Effect and moonlights low luminosity.

Andrew has explored the Purkinje effect in Long-Exposure Photography of Moonlight (shown below) and has also designed an installation proposal to illustrate it.


Moonlight Series.jpg


The installation consists of a dark room that is carefully lit at the specific light levels of a full moon. Using bulbs that collectively match moonlight in its levels of luminosity and kelvin temperature, three boxes will be placed in the space. These boxes will be painted in the primary colours (we’ll use the popular red, blue and yellow in this example) and equivalent colour swatches will be painted on a wall before entering. Theoretically once you enter the room and you allow your eyes to adjust the boxes will appear bluish and unsaturated.

Below are proposal images showing the boxes in the space followed by how they’d likely appear in the low level lighting.

The purpose of this work is to highlight the subjectivity of human observation in the context of time. The night sky from earth is representative of light traveling over great distances. When referring to light years we refer to time and space cohesively and although stars burn at different temperatures and produce different colorations they all appear sliver to the naked eye due to the Purkinje effect and light years of travel.









Finally in the work Sundial (shown below) Andrew illustrates how we project the notion of time on to our surroundings by photographing, every 10 minutes, the shadow of a tree passing over a rock.

During a walk through the Black Wood of Rannoch on the 25th April 2018 he passed a rock just as the shadow of a tree was edging closely towards it. He realised in that moment that his presence in the forest and his observation of this process willed the rock into a unit of measurement and as the shadow passed over it he was both observing and interpreting a sundial. The placement of the rock and the moving shadow of the tree were a chance moment of causality but by being there, Andrew demonstrates the relationship between the individual and the information that we interpret around us. Through his systematic use of photography he accents specifically how we project the notion of time onto what we observe.



Black Wood Final.jpg




Sundial was exhibited along side Long-Exposure Photography of Moonlight and the still in progress Solstice Lines: Edinburgh 2017-18 (55.9441° N, 3.1618° W) as part of this years degree show.