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Broken Symmetries Juan Cortés Supralunar

Broken Symmetries: Interview with Juan Cortés


Blog, Art and Science

Part of the Winter 2018 season

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Juan Cortés

Juan Cortés Supralunar, 2018, Broken Symmetries at FACT, Liverpool. Photo by Jon Barraclough.

Colombian artist Juan Cortés lives and works in Bogotá, Colombia. His works take on multiple forms such as installation works, recordings, and concert pieces. Cortés is interested in investigative and interdisciplinary processes and the connections between art, science and pedagogical processes. For Broken Symmetries, Juan is presenting Supralunar - Placing one's chin onto the vibrating plate causes the skull’s bones to act as an amplifier for the sound produced by the electromechanical gears inside, while the frequency of the lights inside, visible through a lens, creates a simulation of the morphogenesis of a galaxy through light and sound.
In this blog, Cortés discusses Supralunar in more depth.

How would you describe Supralunar?

I like to think of the work as a gear clock, mainly because I am interested in the way in which a mechanism that existed centuries ago can serve as a metaphor for a complex intangible phenomenon - the action of dark matter on celestial bodies - that is very hard to understand. I also think from a machinic aspect, because I am very interested in the way we refer to machines to build our idea of reality. Just as we use machines like the Large Hadron Collider at CERN to try and understand our cosmogony, clocks are also needed to be able to measure and represent time; I consider it important to rethink human-machine relations, in order to be able to blur and re-understand the relationships that make up our world.

What are the main themes and subject matter of the work?

In formal terms, the work consists of a series of electromechanical gears in motion, where dark matter is staged through light and sound. Supralunar invites the spectator to immerse themselves in the discoveries made by Vera Rubin - the astronomer who discovered that the objects on the edges of galaxies move faster than expected - on the relationship between dark matter and the rotational movement of galaxies. In this sense, the work proposes a plastic and poetic approach to dark matter, starting from the morphogenesis and shape acquisition of a galaxy: the movements and series of collisions between luminous bodies dispersed in space which lead them to eventually become a galaxy. Dark matter plays a role in how hierarchically the structures of the universe are formed, from scattered parts to the conformation of galaxies.

How does Supralunar relate to time spent at CERN through Collide International?

As I mentioned earlier, I believe that our contemporary cosmogony - the story we tell ourselves and our construction of reality - is mediated and cemented in places like CERN and I consider it a very valuable opportunity to be able to approach these fascinating topics as an artist. I am yet to visit CERN, but above my interest and fascination with machines, I hope to find the right questions to address my interest in the phenomena that they are trying to resolve at CERN while I’m there.