COSMOS 2018 \\ Hidden in Plain Sight

Hidden in Plain Sight was a new data driven audio-visual work created for Jodrell Bank’s iconic Lovell Telescope. Developed by Addie Wagenknecht, it was the second work to be developed as part of COSMOSpremiering at bluedot festival 2018.

A testament to a seemingly insatiable human appetite for exploration, structures such as the Lovell Telescope look monumental, but are in actuality just the tip of the iceberg sitting on top of great scientific endeavours.

Telescopes all over the world give rise to complex data, and the Lovell Telescope is no exception. Sitting behind that immense structure is a vast array of data systems, networks and global infrastructure, processing and combining complex datasets to build pictures of cosmic activity. In total, over 2 gigabytes of data are streamed from the Lovell Telescope every second – enough to fill a smartphone in under 30 seconds – real time data processing takes place, identifying valuable information to be retained and stored for future analysis. This seemingly random data hub, a router to the stars, generates meaningful patterns which are otherwise invisible.

Through Hidden in Plain Sight we see the telescope as an object that extends beyond the physical structure, Wagenknecht plays with the notion of access to data and how infrastructure is designed to be ignored. Inspired by the aesthetic of dazzle camouflage, the work looks abstract, random, even accidental, and yet as we observe we begin to see patterns.  Informed and generated from data sets which have been collected at Jodrell Bank Observatory, the projection focuses on the process of perception in radio astronomy by modelling patterns that occur within deep space. Echoing the information which has always been there but has been camouflaged by distance and the chaos of space.

Audiences at bluedot festival experienced Hidden in Plain Sight  from a prime viewing position in the Star Field, whilst immersing themselves in the accompanying soundscape.  A sonic interpretation of astrophysical data and developed in partnership with the acoustic engineering team from Arup, this spatial audio composition has been generated to provide an immersive auralisation of signals discovered by researchers at Jodrell Bank Observatory.

You can watch the live stream of Hidden in Plain Sight from bluedot festival, on our facebook.

Addie Wagenknecht is an Austrian based American artist, her work explores the tension between expression and technology. She seeks to blend conceptual work with forms of hacking and sculpture, and deals primarily with ideas relating to pop culture, feminist theory, and hardware. Wagenknecht is the founder of Deep Lab and Chair of the Open Hardware Summit at MIT.

Hidden in Plain Sight has been created as part of COSMOS, a flagship international artists commission and residency for the Lovell Telescope. With special thanks to Rene Breton, Sally Cooper, Philippa Hartley, Tim O’Brien and Mitch Mickaliger from the University of Manchester, Simon Blakeney and Simon Jackson from Arup, and Stefan Hechenberger of NORTD labs.

COSMOS is a flagship international artists commission and residency for Lovell Telescope. Produced by Abandon Normal Devices, commissioned by Jodrell Bank Observatory, Cheshire East Council as part of SHIFT and Abandon Normal Devices. Supported by the University of Manchester, bluedotArupAustrian Cultural Forum, and with public funds from Arts Council England.

LiDAR* scans of the Lovell Telescope used in the production of COSMOS are provided by Arup.

*(Light Imaging, Detection, And Ranging)