‘Weakly Interacting Massive Particle’
Five percent of the universe is observable, the rest is considered ‘dark’, a kind of matter and energy unable to interact with our world and even light itself. Astronomers and cosmologists know it is there, dark particles passing through us and our atmosphere at every moment, but how do we begin to evidence it? This endeavour requires researchers to be imaginative and creative, qualities not commonly associated with science-based practice.
‘Weakly Interacting Massive Particle’ explores the realm of theoretical science, harnessing its speculative nature to produce a project in search of dark matter. By using the photographic medium, ‘WIMP’ intends to find evidence of the elusive matter through a series of photographic tests and experiments. The approach to the image making process could be likened to that of a scientist, conducting experiments, postulating theories and compiling evidence in an effort to present photographic data of dark matter.
‘WIMP’ employs various formats of experimental image making to create a kaleidoscopic photographic account of dark matter. Images of natural landscapes, scientific apparatus, light experiments, solarised microscopic substances, crystallised salt prints and celestial bodies all represent the fabric of the universe. The moving image work contains visual cues that interpret the presence of dark matter passing through our atmosphere. A black canvas slowly brightens to expose objects emanating light and shadow, the image begins to pulse and passes through its life cycle eventually exposing to a white screen. ‘WIMP’ encourages the viewer to ponder the fact that dark matter is passing through our universe at every moment, with this in mind, is there a chance it has been captured in one of these images?
The search for dark matter is conducted deep underground to negate the possibility of surface wavelengths, such as radio waves and cosmic waves, hindering detection. Scientists and engineers craft complex, hyper sensitive sensors and await the chance event of a Weakly Interacting Massive Particle colliding with tangible matter and exciting the sensor. ‘WIMP’ employs a similar methodology through the use of FP100c instant film and exposes the light sensitive material directly to the moon, sun and stars. Photograms of earth matter under moon light, solar waves burnt into the fabric of the medium and light split into spectra are produced all in a bid to capture the chance phenomenon of a dark matter particle interacting with light sensitive material, if only for a moment.
Though setting out with the goal to evidence dark matter photographically is seemingly impossible, the project brings into light the cameras ability to falsify its presence and interrogates the mediums indexical relationship with the universe. The notion of photography as evidence has been disputed since its conception. One of the earliest conjecturing applications of photography was the ability for photographic apparatus to penetrate new dimensions and envisage deceased loved ones for grieving families. This was later disproved and commenced the long-standing argument of photography as a true documentation of reality. ‘Weakly Interacting Massive Particle’ puts credit back into the theory of using the camera to visualise new dimensions and romanticises its ability to penetrate new existences.
Inspired by Drew Nikonowicz’s body of work that explores the abundance of images received from space stations and rovers depicting worlds unknown to the human experience. He takes on the role of a modern age explorer, exploring new realities by merging alternative and traditional photographic methods. He utilises computer generated imagery and large format film photography to produce a body of work that too, questions the limits of the photographic apparatus and ponders the idea of a world beyond ours.
‘Weakly Interacting Massive Particle’ employs a broad range of visual language and research in an effort to push the limits of the photographic medium, intending to give the viewer a jumping off point to trust the cameras ability in visualising new worlds, ideas and realities. There is no evidence to say to this project has been successful in its hunt for dark matter. However, there is also no evidence to say to it has failed.