Initiated: Maarten Vanden Eynde and Marjolijn Dijkman
Involved: Erick Beltrán, Marjolijn Dijkman, Martijn Hendriks, Toril Johannessen, Mungo Thomson, Maarten Vanden Eynde, Rinus Vande Velde, Martin Lo (NASA)
Location: Smart Project Space, Amsterdam, NL
Support: Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunsten, Van Bijleveltstichting; Amsterdam, The Centre for Visual Arts Rotterdam, Fund for the Arts; CBK Rotterdam, The Netherlands America Foundation, Office for Contemporary Art Norway (OCA), Norsk Kulturrad/Arts Council Norway
Smooth Structures explored the unexpected intersections between a new dark matter and dark energy hypothesis and its conceptual visualization mediated through art. Scientists weave incredible stories, invent wild hypothesis and ask difficult questions about the meaning of life. They have insights into the workings of our bodies, minds and environment which challenge the myths we make about our identities and selves. They create visual images and models of things that are ethically and politically controversial. A great deal of contemporary art requires a similar facility for the making of unusual connections or unpredictable juxtapositions between disparate objects and concepts, a strong sense of paradox, irony, of humour or a way with manipulating the unexpected twists and turns of narrative.
The mathematician Martin Lo who discovered the Interplanetary Superhighway , a revolutionary model which changed space travel forever, is currently researching the “Brans’ Conjecture” theory with several other scientists. Lo invited Enough Room for Space to create a visualization of such a hypothesis. Its links with other worldliness suggest underlying meanings beyond the merely visual or verbal and confronts us with the idea of the sublime, though not a simple wonder at the overwhelming beauty of an endless darkness and search for truth, but a desire to control and own it indicative of our confident expansion into space and the persistent need to colonise.
In relation to the “Brans’ Conjecture” theory, artists were invited to create new works for the exhibition Smooth Structures. Since the theory is hypothetical in nature and with many tangents, it was left open for the artists themselves to discern which theory they could use to visualise dark matter or dark energy. In order to work with this very abstract given (that 96% of the universe is not accounted for) the artists tackle the problem in a myriad of ways, developing alternative glasses through which one could look at the world or by making them so big that other phenomena became part of the equation.