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Jiggling Atoms (UK) + USE academy

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JIGGLING ATOMS (talk + workshop)
Jiggling Atoms is a multi-disciplinary illustration project exploring the wonders of physics with an emphasis on learning, dialogue, knowledge exchange, and collaboration. Jiggling Atoms explore the role of visual communication in physics and the use of abstract and creative thought in science.

Founded on their shared belief in cross-disciplinary education and a desire to create and design experiences through which people can learn about the sciences and experience interesting works of art, design, and illustration, Jiggling Atoms seeks to create and nurture a positive, fun relationship with learning both about science and developing creative skills.

For more information about Jiggling Atoms:

Most of our everyday life is invisible: the air we breathe, the chemical reactions in your body, the heat from the sun, gravity, electricity, radio waves, the calculations done by your computer. How these invisible things work can only be understood through their effects, which scientists seek to describe through experiments and simulations. Developing ways to describe knowledge of the material nature of reality that is discoverable through experiments and simulations is extremely tricky – and finding ways of explaining what we understand about nature is something humans have always endeavored to do. Be it 8th-century visions of the cosmos or advanced computer simulations, be it a graph or an oil painting, creatively exploring modes of representation or ‘ways of seeing’, ways of explaining and ways to describe what we understand about nature is a source of great inspiration and inquiry. Our talk will explore some of the historical imagery that accompanies our descriptions of nature, and how our metaphorical description in the language of physics helps us to grasp its complexity. We will critique inconsistencies, as well as showcase some of Jiggling Atoms’ landmark projects by presenting a selection of Jiggling Atoms contributors. From moving image, interactive art, books, objects, effigies and prints, public exhibitions, participatory workshops, public discussions, and debates – we will discuss how these different visual or expressive modes operate in terms of learning and understanding. We will also describe our practice and how we operate as a collective, explaining our approach to public engagement, collaboration and education in science and art, the need for inclusive, fun projects and how this can empower learners of all kinds. 

WORKSHOP: Alien Civilisations
Join Jiggling Atoms in an exploration of exoplanets, where you will create ‘biologically feasible’ alien beings and consider how your science fiction world could be self-consistent in accordance with our understanding of the natural world.

We explore the physical nature of a collection of exoplanets discovered by Kepler and speculate as to what kind of life forms or civilizations could inhabit these other worlds. With a science fiction expert and anatomical artist at hand to guide you, your creation will result in an artifact such as a drawing, sculpture, costume or mask. (edited)

The Kepler space observatory has been on the hunt for habitable planets for the last eight years and over 1,000 exoplanets – planets orbiting another sun(s) – have been discovered by the Kepler space telescope, which reached its orbit in 2009. The dazzling and truly bizarre worlds that it has discovered have not only challenged our previous ideas of planet and solar system formation but has expanded speculative dialogues that challenge our preconceptions of what extra-terrestrial life forms could be like biologically. Johannes Kepler (after whom this NASA space observatory is named) was a German mathematician, astronomer and key figure in the 17th-century scientific revolution. Although he is best known for his laws of planetary motion, he also wrote one of the first ever pieces of science fiction, The Somnium, in 1608. This is a fantastical tale about a journey to the island of Levania, which is, in fact, the Earth’s moon.

Natalie Kay-Thatcher is an illustrator, bookseller, educator, and founder of Jiggling Atoms. Having spent many years with an obsessive fascination for science and science fiction, her work explores the merging of science and imagination with graphic storytelling, printmaking, and artistic workshops. Natalie is currently on the Art-Science MA at Central Saint Martins and her cosmic online bookshop Somnium Books is an excellent reference for the diverse and fantastic history of science fiction.

Jennifer Crouch is an artist, teacher, researcher and maker. She is currently an artist in residence at UCL Centre for Advanced Biomedical Imaging (CABI) developing a project about the biomedical imaging process using a Dobby Loom and ant type of mathematics called a Fourier transform. Jennifer founded a project called Making in Transit as part of the Arctic Circle Residency 2016 where she researched cartographic technology from Ammasalik in Greenland resulting in a collection of hand carved wooden maps. Jennifer has a background in Physics and Medical Illustration; she worked as a Medical Artist at St George’s Department of Anatomy and is currently studying a MSc in Analytical Bioscience at Birkbeck University.


USE academy is supported by Aarhus 2017 European Capital of Culture, Aarhus Municipality and Statens Kunstfond.

Earlier Event: September 16
Ensemble Pegasus: Entre deux mers
Later Event: October 4
Time to Listen