28 June 2011

Semiconductor: Worlds in the Making is the artist duo’s first UK solo show. Worlds in the Making is an ambitious exhibition inspired by Semiconductor’s travels to the volcanic regions of the Galapagos Islands and mainland Ecuador in South America as they took part in the The Gulbenkian Galapagos Artists’ Residency Programme. During their residency they were able to work closely with scientists and naturalists on the islands. They undertook an eight day boat trip touring the islands with a naturalist and seven days at the Charles Darwin Foundation (the main research centre on the islands). They were able to spend time on Isabela, the largest island, as well as time in Ecuador.

In a time where a lot of people are trying to avoid ash-clouds and such, Semiconductor were took the opposite opposite and were really lucky as there was an eruption of a volcano whilst they were on location in Ecuador.

On the Gulbenkian’s website Joe says of the eruption, “it was such a physical experience. As the volcano violently exploded rocks and lava from its crater, a sonic wave would hit you followed by the most thunderous blast. It was so exhilarating that we spent two sleepless nights of volcano watching and filming”.

Such was the success of Semiconductor’s residency on the island that they were awarded a fellowship at the Smithsonian Mineral Sciences Laboratory where they were able to develop Worlds in the Making further working alongside volcanologists and scientists within the institute. Take a look at the original Arts Council England’s news item here.

The exhibition at FACT features the UK premiere of Worlds in the Making, which will be in Gallery 1. Worlds in the Making will be a three-channel installation projected onto huge screens, brings together landscapes of active volcanoes. By blending real footage of volcanologists at work with animation and layered audio from field recordings, interviews and seismic data, Semiconductor have created an imaginary understanding of the physical, conjuring up images of the earth’s distant past. 

Also premiering is Inferno Observatory which will be located in Gallery 2. Semiconductor came across a 16mm volcano film archive during their residency at the Mineral Sciences Laboratory at the Natural History Museum in Washington DC, which they have used to create a multi-channel piece. The installation brings to light spectacular volcanic occurrences as well as the interesting and slightly odd methods of observing them. Mineral Crystal Animations will also be installed in Gallery 2 and consists of three video installations that depict jewel-like animations of mineral crystals. The movement and growth of these imagined formations respond and react to sound recordings of melting ice.  

We spoke to Semiconductor about what they would like audiences to take away with them….
“We would like the audience to stand back from the world we think we know and ask themselves questions about how they experience the natural world, what do they perceive and what is influenced by what science has taught us about it.”


Semiconductor: Worlds in the Making will open on 1 July and runs until 11 September. Entry is free and the galleries are open seven days a week from 12pm until 6pm.