Strange Attractor

LED light, white sand, neodymium magnets, stainless steel and chrome
Installation commissioned by the Amy Johnson Festival for the Da Vinci Engineered Exhibition, Zebedee’s Yard, Hull (2016)

Strange Attractor is the title of a new installation created for the Da Vinci Engineered exhibition.  The idea for the work evolved through discussions with the Department of Engineering at Hull University and has been inspired by the nature of flight, light and movement over landscape.

A magnetic pendulum swings in an arc across a large disk of white sand which has been raked into concentric patterns with the middle section raised to create a dished plateau. Projected onto this surface are three circles of continuously changing coloured light.  These overlap with each other to form a central section of white light under which three magnetic centres exert an invisible force.

The swinging pendulum cuts a fine pattern in the dished central plateau of sand tracing its various journeys towards equilibrium and the calm elliptical spiral at the centre. The magnets however, exert a strange attraction and bring a degree of uncertainty to the airspace and the exact direction that will be taken. Occasionally the pendulum completely changes direction and can even become stranded at a magnetic pole.

Viewers are invited to swing the pendulum and follow the flight as it passes through borders of colour, sandy terrain and magnetic atmosphere.

The title for the work Strange Attractor is deliberately ambiguous; on one level it describes an equation or fractal set representing a complex pattern of behaviour in a chaotic system, but on another level it conveys our fascination with light and pattern amidst the compelling uncertainty of elemental forces.

Art and science have a natural overlap – both are functions of our interpretation and understanding of the universe and the world we live in.