SPUN SPECTRA • Nicolas Teichrob & Giorgio Magnanensi
The natural optical phenomena of the rainbow spectra produced through refraction and diffraction of light by spider webs whose woven structures consisting of many different types of strands and strand coatings are stunningly beautiful. Of form and function unknown, certainly distinct, similarly unique yet consistently variable, the spectra of webs have likely hit everybody’s eyes from afar but subconsciously pushed to the periphery of our observations. The fine details of colours wait for a participating observer to take a closer look and bring them to the forefront.
Spun Spectra is a series of twenty-one images, ten with sonifications, along with film projections sharing the interplay between light and webs. Simple in form and capture but unique in approach and style, these photographs and videos isolate the distinctly banded colours of spider webs against a shadowed backdrop and the resulting spectra that are revealed at certain angles. Sunlight is white light, and this splits into its colour components through reflection, refraction, and diffraction when hitting the spider webs. The interference causes a chaotic sorting and banding of the resulting colours yielding magnificent palettes in the visible light spectrum that vary from one web to another and even strand to strand. Light bounces inside the multi-layered stands and on the bumpy strand surface, often lined with mini globules positioned in semi-patterns, and then it bounces to the camera sensor when positioned accordingly. This is the first time the colours of webs have been isolated in such a way that entices a focus and attention to details previously ignored, in both art and science.
Imaging of Spun Spectra Nature’s artistic ability often is the focus of my work as I have a background in geology that has shaped my observational attentiveness and ability to focus on patterns and ideas seen at odd spatial or temporal scales, and often chaotic or fractal in form. Observing and participating in all scales of life led to this style of capturing spider webs and with the presence of a clustered background distilled to simple darkness, the vibrant colours of the webs become the sole focus allowing the images to occupy any position in space-time that the observer so desires.
The consistency and diversity of colours in the Spun Spectra series asks many questions including opening a discussion on the scale with which we observe and take in our human-sized existence and expanding our scales of experience for a richer life; they ask the scientific community to look at a new element of spider-web colouring in the previously un-seen refraction and diffraction components of light-web interactivity and thus potentially affecting many of their key functions; and finally they simply inspire colour combinations of perfection for any element of design and can provide endless inspiration.
The photographic and post techniques to produce these images are simple and basic by nature but exquisite in result. The majority of the work is done in-camera during capture, rather than in post, and the images have all been shot on a custom rigged manual based lens on a Canon 5d MarkIII.
The printed images are 60cm x 90cm and are framed using west coast red cedar. LEDs are positioned inside the back of the frame’s backboard to provide backlight for the prints. Each image is printed on Fujitrans chosen because of its fine art quality and lasting colours along with its key abilities when backlit. The transparency is then sandwiched between two layers of 3mm glass. The first image below the description is an example of one of the prints. These frames are battery powered and can be hung wirelessly with a runtime of 12+ hours. Alternatively the frames are also equipped to run constantly when connected directly to an AC power supply. The original videos and the video mapping of the sonified images will be displayed using a custom holographic projection method to create a unique viewing experience in itself. – Nicolas Teichrob
Sonification of Spun Spectra To generate the sounds for this installation I implemented a system based on a process of spectrogram imaging that utilizes a set of selected images of the complex light spectra of spider webs captured by Nicolas Teichrob, as sonograms. Using custom made sonification patches made with Max MSP Jitter software; the images have been scanned to record the parameters of audio frequency and amplitude over variable time frames.
Transforming the visual information of the light spectra captured via special photo techniques into audio information, gives them new dimensions and perspectives to the observation of the physical phenomenon of the complex light diffractions of spider webs, while fostering synesthetic responses within the association of both visual and auditory perceptions. In this context, the signification of spectroscopic data enables completely new means of observation of these almost invisible and complex light-emitting sources.
The visual perception of the human being allows perceiving electromagnetic waves in a range of limited frequencies. The rest of the frequencies are therefore simply invisible to humans. The scanning of the photographs via Max Msp Jitter patches allows the analysis of the light spectra emitted by the web strands, while the spectroscopic data are further translated into sine waves using the synthesis software built for this purpose.
In this way the normally “invisible” or unnoticed become “audible”, revealing through the mapping of light frequency data a wonderful sonic landscape as a possible aural translation of light into sound spectra and resonances. The resulting auditory information generated by the scanning process allows for an aural plotting of visual signals (the Spun Spectra), and creates dynamic micro-polyphonies of glissandos that are fed to audio transducers attached to the back of the pictures frames used here as resonators of the sonified Spun Spectra images. The resonating panels are made with thin cedar boards, a rich resonating wood, utilized for its sonic qualities. – Giorgio Magnanensi
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