AN ALTERNATIVE GUIDE TO THE UNIVERSE @ Hayward Gallery, London
June 11 – August 26, 2013
This summer the Hayward Gallery in London is showcasing the work of visionary outsiders in art, science, engineering and architecture with a mind-expanding exhibition titled An Alternative Guide to the Universe.
IFF Director Margaret Wertheim has curated the section on outsider physics, which features the work of James Carter (hero of her book Physics on the Fringe, and fabulous models of subatomic particles by newly discovered, Pasadena-based, "quantum geometry" theorist Philip Blackmarr.
Carter and Blackmarr appear in the "Beautiful Theories" part of the exhibition, devoted to thinkers who propose alternative ways of understanding the physical world. Accompanying the show is a lavish catalog, to which Margaret has contributed an essay.
About An Alternative Guide to the Universe From the Hayward Gallery website:
Alternative Guide to the Universe surveys an artistic landscape that stretches to the far horizons of our imagination. Featuring contributions from self-taught artists and unlicensed architects, fringe physicists and visionary inventors, it serves up bracingly fresh perspectives on the world we live in. It also offers a rare opportunity to discover remarkable paintings, drawings, sculpture, photography and architectural models created by an eccentric and inspiring group of individuals from around the world.
Alternative Guide to the Universe focuses on individuals who develop their ideas and practices outside of official institutions and established disciplines. Their work ingeniously departs from accepted ways of thinking in order to re-imagine the rules of culture and science. Some of their speculative visions rival the wildest inventions of science fiction – with the difference that these practitioners believe in the validity and veracity of all that they describe and propose.
Many of these mavericks make work that aspires to be practical or that explores the nature of empirical reality. They create plans for vast cities of the future; alternative calendars and languages; diagrams that track evolutionary networks of consciousness; and photographic portraits that question our notions of ‘self’. Whether speculating on mysteries of time and space or charting the unseen energy flows of our bodies and minds, their startlingly imaginative conceptions invite the viewer into a universe where ingenuity trumps received wisdom. In the process, it vastly expands the spaces in which our own imaginative thinking about the world may venture.
Diagram from Jim Carter's theory of "circlon synchronicity", showing the formation of subatomic particles.
Jim Carter's work was first exhibited by the IFF in 2002 at the Santa Monica Museum of Art in the seminal show "Lithium Legs and Apocalyptic Photons", and again in 2012 at the IFF Los Angeles as part of our exhibition "Physics on the Fringe." The Hayward exhibition is the first public presentation of Philip Blackmarr's work, which will be coming to the IFF Los Angeles in 2014.
b. 1944, Seattle, WA; lives in Enumclaw, WA
After abandoning his university studies to search for a long-lost meteorite, James Carter has spent the last fifty years developing an alternative theory of everything. Carter’s bright, exquisitely detailed drawings, prints and animations illustrate his most radical theories, including his belief gravity is an illusion. Things only appear to fall, he insists, while in reality the earth is falling ‘up’, due to the fact that it doubles in size every 19 minutes.
Philip Blackmarr holding his model of the nucleus of an iron atom, constructed from folded paper components.
b. 1945, Mobile, AL; lives in Pasadena, CA
For forty years, Philip Blackmarr has been developing a theory of matter based on his belief that all material structure must arise from subatomic units configured into geometric patterns. Calling his theory ‘quantum geometry’, Blackmarr proposes that matter is composed from octahedral units that he associates with the electron. Other, heavier, particles are composed from hundreds or thousands of these units arranged in complex 3-D lattices. To illustrate his ideas, Blackmarr has crafted models of these particles out of thousands of tiny octahedrons, each precisely folded into shape.
Diagram of electromagnetic wave formation as described by the theory "quantum geometry" by Philip Blackmarr.
Diagram of "quantum geometry" explanation of subatomic particles by Philip Blackmarr.