Negative Space

oktober 9th, 2010

Mungo Thomson
Negative Space, 2006

Mungo Thomson Negative Space

Full color, 160 pages, 10-1/8″ x 7″ x ½”
Designed by Mungo Thomson with Conny Purtill
Published by Christoph Keller Editions and JRP|Ringier, Zurich

Mungo Thomson Negative Space

Mungo Thomson Negative Space

Thomson’s ongoing Negative Space project tempers profound ambivalence with assurances of earnest conciliation. The works in this series—including Negative Space (2006), an artist book, and Negative Space (STScI-PRC2003-24) (2006) and Negative Space (STScI-PRC2007-41a) (2007), large-scale photographic murals comprise psychedelic images culled from an online archive of copyright-free starscape shots taken by the Hubble Space Telescope that the artist downloaded and reversed. (Thanks to a simple Photoshop operation, the inky chasm of outer space becomes the antiseptic pallor of the empty gallery in another act of reversal.)

The Negative Space murals are, as Thomson quips, “like visual whale songs—atmospherics for the spiritually inclined. Wallpaper for Esalen. California all the way.” This means that they are tainted with hippie-stoner associations, but their admission of delight in and curiosity about the world extends well beyond them. In his Gifford Lectures on Natural Theology, delivered at the University of Glasgow in 1985, Carl Sagan described nothing short of the search for the sacred in the universe, beginning with a very simple formulation: “By far the best way I know to engage the religious sensibility, the sense of awe, is to look up on a clear night. . . . I think everyone in every culture has felt a sense of awe and wonder looking at the sky.”
In this way, Sagan opens onto a series of startling observations about the relative unimportance of man in the center of an ever-vaster cosmos—a smallness that is neither a palliative nor a burden, but an invitation born of never really being very sure where it is that we stand. So Thomson offers a site of promise, which aches with entimentality even as its refusal of consolation admits to the impossibility of any easy belief.

– Based on a text by Suzanne Hudson is a New York–based critic and an assistant professor of modern and contemporary art at the University of Illinois.

Dark Matter (Running Man), 2010
Photo-luminescent ink on museum board, 39-¼” x 52”
Dark Matter (Orion), 2010
Photo-luminescent ink on museum board, 44-¼” x 33-¼”

Mungo Thomson Dark Matter

Mungo Thomson Dark Matter

Dark Matter (NGC-6397), 2010
Photo-luminescent ink on museum board, 35-¾” X 27″

Mungo Thomson Dark Matter

Thomson’s silkscreens invert photographs of starscapes taken by amateur astronomers and turn them into glow-in-the-dark prints whose negative space glows, rather than the stars themselves.


november 6th, 2008

Maarten Vanden Eynde
Mon(NU)mentum, 2008 AD
(450 x 60 cm)

Maarten Vanden Eynde Monumentum

Maarten Vanden Eynde Monumentum

Time is a philosophical dimension, a basic substance which we breath in and out constantly. Just like space it is always there. Time experience however seems to be working on many different levels in an ever changing and more personalized speed (sometimes a minute can last forever and your life can fly by in a fraction). Time is not static, it is always on the move. The impossibility to stop time is mirrored by the impossibility to live in the present. ‘Now’ is an elusive point between the past and the future. Like the gardener on his way to Ispahaan, the present is on his way to an unavoidable destiny: the past. There is no escape. When you read THIS word, it became history already. The future is catching up instantly. What is the force that powers the engine of time? Is the present being pulled towards the future?

The Universal Law of Gravitation has several important features. First, it is an inverse square law, meaning that the strength of the force between two massive objects decreases in proportion to the square of the distance between them as they move farther apart. Second, the direction in which the force acts is always along the line (or vector) connecting the two gravitating objects.
In 1687 Sir Isaac Newton first published his Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy) which was a radical treatment of mechanics, establishing the concepts which were to dominate physics for the next two hundred years. Among the book’s most important new concepts was Newton’s Universal Law of Gravitation. Newton managed to take Kepler’s Laws governing the motion of the planets and Galileo’s ideas about kinematics and projectile motion and synthesize them into a law which governed both motion on earth and motion in the heavens. This was an achievement of enormous importance for physics; Newton’s discoveries meant that the universe was a rational place in which the same principles of nature applied to all objects.
Could it also work for Time?

Between two objects, let’s say A and B, there is a point where the gravitation of both objects is working with equal force (L1 point, named after Lagrange ). This point is balancing between the two attracting masses. If it is slightly bending towards A or B is will be attracted more by either one of them. It can only move from it’s frozen position, without loosing it’s equal balance, if A and B change mass simultaneously. The mass A is loosing, B has to gain. If time would be a linear experience, and A would be the past and B the future, than the point (C) hanging in the middle would be the present.
Presuming the past is getting longer and longer (or bigger and bigger), in order for C to be equally drawn to both A and B, it needs to be moving towards the future. The past is getting bigger and the future is getting smaller. And on top of that the speed of this process seems to be accelerating. With the population growth as exemplary model and driving fuel, evolution takes place at an unprecedented speed. New inventions and discoveries changing the world beyond recognition are constantly coming closer after each other. Just like the birth of matter during the big bang, time was created at the same moment and moves equally with the expanding universe; faster and faster to it’s final destiny.

The installation ‘Mo(NU)mentum’ is made up of several layers of history, creating a massive pillar. The drill core is like a sample of time, taken from the earth in the future to understand how the world evolved. Starting with a massive block of stone (in which the different geological layers are visible) the drill core contains samples of wood, copper, metal, bricks, concrete, asphalt, tar and plastic. The layers are getting thinner and thinner the closer they get to the present = the plastic layer. So far the materials created a foundation for the next, but the plastic layer is so thin and vulnerable that it is impossible to continue from there. It is a final moment in present evolution.

Maarten Vanden Eynde Monumentum

Mo(NU)mentum is a monument for the future, visualizing the impossibility to continue the current evolution. It is a permanent memory and trace of Generali Groups Executive Forum on Time: Business Opportunity and Strategic Timing. The best Champagne was served in plastic Champagne glasses. The empty glasses were collected and melted on top of the installation, thereby physically contributing the last layer.

Cold Dark Matter

maart 12th, 2008

Cornelia Parker
Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View
, 1991

Cornelia Parker

Cold Dark Matter began life as a garden shed filled with objects from her own and friends’ sheds and things bought at a car boot sale. She then asked the army to blow up the shed under very controlled conditions. The objects, along with the fragments of the shed, were collected and suspended in a closed room in an attempt to recreate the moment just after the explosion. The installation is lit with a single light-bulb at the very centre of the arrangement, casting shadows on the walls. The title gives us a whole new way of understanding the artwork, making us think of other dramatic moments of destruction and creation in the much wider universe.

Neither From Nor Towards, 1992

Cornelia Parker2

In ‘Neither From Nor Towards’ the brick remnants of an eroded house hang suspended in stilled animation in the work of British artist Cornelia Parker, who was nominated for the Turner prize in 1997. Her work often depicts a moment in time, which has been halted. In ‘Neither From Nor Towards’, the bricks are resonant with their previous life, reminding us of the passage of time over which we have no control. Parker rescues and reinterprets the ordinary, which is transformed by the gallery setting into something poetic and extraordinary.

Heart of Darkness, 2004

Cornelia Parker3

Charcoal from a Florida Wildfire (planned forest burn that got out of control)

Cornelia Parker was born in Cheshire in I956 and lives and works in London. She is interested in how everyday objects can be changed by (often violent) processes. During her career she has used a steamroller to flatten silver plates and has transformed a wedding ring into metres of fine, gold thread. Although at first glance it might seem that she is interested in destroying objects, she is in fact fascinated by how change can create something completely new.

Eslöv Meteorite

november 3rd, 2007

meteor impact
meteor impact at 06.41 am

In the early morning of the 3rd of november 2007 a meteor hit Eslöv, known as the most boring town of Sweden. It was an unexpected event that was witnessed only by a few. The energy of the blast was estimated to be between 1 and 2 megatons of TNT and left a hole of 15 metres in diameter in a field near Eslöv. The meteorite was dug up by Maarten Vanden Eynde and put on display in front of the Medborgarhuset in the framework of the 2nd Eslöv Biennale.

meteor crater
meteor crater near Eslöv

meteor impact drawing

Eslöv Biennale II
03/11 – 30/11/2007: Medborgarhuset, Eslöv, Sweden

The 2007 Biennale is a wide exhibition that offers a regional and national sample of the art of today with international flavours. The elements of the Biennale is like a sweep through the art-world with everything from visual art to sound-art, conceptualism and performance. The location for the Biennale is part of the experience. Medborgarhuset (Civic Hall) has flourished during the last year and is building a reputation as a centre of events. In architectural circles the Civic Hall in Eslöv is known as the most ambitious building in Sweden in the post-war period. It was 1947 when the young, newly-qualified architect Hans Asplund´s proposal won the competition to design Eslöv´s Civic Hall, which was built and completed in 1957. At the same time he build the United Nations building in New York for which he used many similar materials.


Black Hole House

juli 5th, 2007

Dan Havel and Dean Ruck
Inversion, 2005

Dan Havel and Dean Ruck inversion

Dan Havel and Dean Ruck inversion 2

Dan Havel and Dean Ruck inversion 3

A black hole is an object with a gravitational field so powerful that a region of space becomes cut off from the rest of the universe – no matter or radiation, including visible light, that has entered the region can ever escape. The lack of escaping electromagnetic radiation renders the inside of black holes (beyond the event horizon) invisible, hence the name. However, black holes can be detectable if they interact with matter, e.g. by sucking in gas from an orbiting star. The gas spirals inward, heating up to very high temperatures and emitting large amounts of light, X-rays and Gamma rays in the process while still outside of the event horizon.

While the idea of an object with gravity strong enough to prevent light from escaping was proposed in the 18th century, black holes as presently understood are described by Einstein’s theory of general relativity, developed in 1916. This theory predicts that when a large enough amount of mass is present within a sufficiently small region of space, all paths through space are warped inwards towards the center of the volume. When an object is compressed enough for this to occur, collapse is unavoidable (it would take infinite strength to resist collapsing into a black hole). When an object passes within the event horizon at the boundary of the black hole, it is lost forever (it would take an infinite amount of effort for an object to climb out from inside the hole). Although the object would be reduced to a singularity, the information it carries is not lost.

While general relativity describes a black hole as a region of empty space with a pointlike singularity at the center and an event horizon at the outer edge, the description changes when the effects of quantum mechanics are taken into account. The final, correct description of black holes, requiring a theory of quantum gravity, is unknown.

Black hole

Simulated view of a black hole in front of the Milky Way. The hole has 10 solar masses and is viewed from a distance of 600 km. An acceleration of about 400 million g is necessary to sustain this distance constantly.


mei 4th, 2007

Maarten Vanden Eynde

Maarten Vanden Eynde new European Flag 2014

Join the forum on Europe Day, the 9th of May on


mei 4th, 2007

Maarten Vanden Eynde

Maarten Vanden Eynde new European Flag 2012

The present project Europe2008: In Varietate Concordia aims to stimulate international discussion about the future policy of the EU and ultimately to press for a fundamental change of course. Gradually even the stars on the flag should vanish, leaving us eventually with a universal clear blue flag, the flag of Planet Earth. Is a conceptual ideology desirable and more importantly: is it a realistic possibility?

Join the forum on Europe Day, the 9th of May on


mei 3rd, 2007

Maarten Vanden Eynde

Maarten Vanden Eynde new European Flag 2010

Since January 1st, 2007, the Union consists of 27 member states! Is further expansion desirable when the old 25 member states cannot successfully bring about an unequivocal policy? Does Europe need borders and if so, where do you draw the line? Croatia? Bosnia Herzegovina? Albania? Or Turkey? Georgia? Azerbeidzjan? And what about Russia? Or Canada? Israel?

Join the forum on Europe Day, the 9th of May on


mei 2nd, 2007

Maarten Vanden Eynde

Maarten Vanden Eynde new European Flag 2008

We have drifted too far away from the Utopian ideas that were essential to the foundation of Europe. Equality concerning basic resources and means should create freedom and stability that will make war in the future unnecessary. ‘To unify Europe is to make peace’, said the spiritual father of the European idea, Jean Monnet, in 1950.This is an ideology similar to that of the League of Nations and the United Nations and which should apply to the entire world population. And it is precisely this deviation, this betrayal of the ideology, which causes the present suspicion and ultimate rejection of the European Union. Is Europe a new country with new borders, or is it a concept for freedom and equality?

Join the forum on Europe Day, the 9th of May on


mei 1st, 2007

Maarten Vanden Eynde

Maarten Vanden Eynde new European Flag 2006

In 2006 there were still only 15 countries represented on the flag. The ten new member states of the European Union, which joined in 2004, have not been treated equally due to fear of a tidal wave of economic refugees. A special backdoor provision was created to allow each member state to implement its own restrictions (until 2011) against one or more countries at will. This inequality and discrimination is at odds with the founding spirit of the European Union. Should free movement of people, goods, services and capital be implemented universally and immediately upon accession to membership of the EU or is an adjustment period a better strategy?

Join the forum on Europe Day, the 9th of May on

The History of Tomorrow

maart 9th, 2007

– a short story-

by Maarten Vanden Eynde, 2006/2007
in collaboration with Marjolijn Dijkman

Maarten Vanden Eynde The History of Tomorrow

A billion stars twinkled in the universe, irregularly like diamonds. I woke up in a sweat and tried to christalize where I was. The heavy window screens were open but I could only feel a pitch-black sky. I rolled over to the side and found my glasses. There, up there on the left, it should be there! Was I still sleeping? I blinked my eyes a couple of times, but was disappointed again. It was gone, it was really gone…

The loss of gravitation first came to general notice on the 15th of June 2008, during the Olympics in Beijing, China. On that day 27 world records were broken. Read the rest of this entry »

San Fernando Galaxy

juni 19th, 2006

Piero Golia

San Fernando Galaxy, 2006
photo 30×40 inches


Night vision of San Fernando Valley, California, USA

‘America is nowhere so perfectly as in Los Angeles’ ubiquitous acres. One gets the impression that people came to Los Angeles in order to divorce themselves from the past, here to live or try to live in the rootless world of an adult child. One knows that if the cities of the world were destroyed by a new war, the architecture of the rebuilding would create a landscape which looked, subject to specification of climate, exactly and entirely like the San Fernando Valley’.

(Norman Mailer, from Superman comes to the supermarket, 1963)




juni 17th, 2006

Europe is facing it’s most difficult challenge: how to create a united Europe? After the referenda on the new European Constitutional Law and the following disappointment about the French and Dutch NO, Europe is further away from unification than ever. But as a result inertia about Europa was replaced by genuine interest. What does it mean to be European? What do we represent? How much personal identity do we want to hand over to become a unity? The project is about the European Union as a whole and wants to raise questions about Europe in the past, the present and the future. Is Europe a new country with new borders or a concept for freedom and equality?

Maarten Vanden Eynde

Europe2006, 2006
Spun-poly silkscreen (155 gr/m2 polyester cloth), 100 x 150 cm


On the 9th of May, the official Europe Day, the new flag was presented throughout the whole European Union.

Participating Cultural institutions include:

The Vienna Künstlerhaus and State of Sabotage in Austria, The Latvian National Museum of Art and Gallery Noass in Latvia, Lokaal 01 in Belgium, Pantheon Gallery in Cyprus, The DESTE Foundation for Contemporary Art and Booze Cooperativa in Greece, Stanica Cultural Centre in Slovakia, SCCA/Center for Contemporary Arts-Ljubljana in Slovenia, Galleria Rubin, Viafarini, PAN/Pallazo della Arti Napoli and ILOYOLI Lab in Italy, Casino Luxembourg – Forum d’art contemporain, Galerie Frank Gerlitzki espace ApART and ON25 societé civile in Luxembourg, Galeria Bielska BWA and Wyspa Institute of Art in Poland, CCB/Centro Cultural de Belem in Portugal, Kulturcenter HUSET and Charlottenborg Exhibition Hall in Denmark, Sally Stuudio and Tartu Kunstmuuseum in Estland, The Korjaamo culture factory in Finland, FAUX MOUVEMENT – centre d’art contemporain in France, Kunstverein KISS, Temporäres Museum, Untergröningen in Germany, The Contemporary Art Centre (CAC) and Vartai Gallery in Lithuania, St James Cavalier, Centre for Creativity in Malta, Artpool in Hongary, Four, The Irish Museum of Modern Art and Pallas Studios in Ireland, Tranzit Social Platform in Czech Republic, The Tapper-Popermajer Art Gallery in Sweden, La Mekanica in Spain, Hidde van Seggelen Contemporay Art and Ben Janssens Oriental Art in London UK, Smart Project Space, Kunstruimte Wagemans, Expodium, Lokaal 01, Sign, Peninsula, STROOM Den Haag and CBK Rotterdam in The Netherlands….

‘I left the ten last newcomers out, not because I don’t think they aren’t part of the EU, but because they are still not accepted as full members by the old EU countries. People coming from one of these countries don’t have the same freedom of movement through Europe as the rest of the Europeans. Although this is one of the basic rights as a European citizen. Europe is a concept for freedom, not a new country with new borders.

I think Europe should present itself as a variety of countries not as a unity. It is not a homogeneous circle of stars and it will never be one, so I put every star back on it’s original position, as the capital of the different countries. Like this an ‘abstract’ sky full of stars appears. The borders are opening…’

Maarten Vanden Eynde

Time Travel – Shaping the Future

februari 28th, 2006

by Neil Johnson

The idea of travelling forward into the future or back into the past has always fascinated science fiction writers. The ‘grandfather paradox’ is the argument many people use to suggest that time travel is impossible. What if you went back in time and prevented your grandfather from meeting your grandmother so that your mother was never born? Then you would never have been born… and so on. Until very recently such arguments led most scientists to believe that time travel could never exist outside science fiction. But amazingly, some interpretations of the weirdness of the quantum world now suggest that time travel is possible – at least in theory.

Gravity and black holes
Einstein’s theory of relativity brought space and time together in a single, four-dimensional arrangement that he called spacetime. We know that we can travel forwards, backwards and sideways in space, so why not forwards and backwards in time?

Four dimensions are difficult to imagine, so physicists usually suggest you think of spacetime as a rubber sheet stretched out flat. If there are no large masses around, the sheet stays flat, and so any object placed on it will move around in straight lines. But a large mass, such as the Sun, makes a dip in the sheet because it actually warps spacetime. Now any other object with smaller mass, like our Earth, moving about in spacetime rolls into the dip as it comes past the Sun. It appears ‘attracted’ to the large mass. This effect of warping spacetime is what gives rise to gravity.
The Universe is full of heavy objects exerting gravitational effects and the net result is that spacetime is not flat at all but curved. Everything, including light, has to follow curved paths in spacetime. We know Einstein was right about this because astronomers can sometimes see distant stars that ought to be masked by nearer objects such as the Sun. Instead of travelling in straight lines and hence being blocked, the light from the stars bends round the obstruction.

When a star reaches the end of its life it may collapse inwards under the influence of its own gravity to such an extent that all its matter becomes concentrated into an extremely dense object a fraction of its original size. This is a black hole. Black holes have such a huge gravitational pull that nothing can escape from them, not even light. We cannot see them but we have good evidence that they exist. We can see stars behaving in ways which suggest that they are being pulled about by a nearby invisible object with enormous mass.
What does a black hole do to spacetime? Relativity predicts that at the centre of a black hole is an infinitely dense point, called a singularity, within which all the normal laws of physics no longer apply. Time, space, matter and energy no longer have any well-defined meaning. Einstein’s equations show that such a singularity doesn’t just make a dip in the imaginary rubber sheet of spacetime, it makes a tunnel that goes right through and momentarily opens out on the other side.
Where is ‘the other side’? It could be somewhere else in spacetime, either in the future or in the past, or it could even be in another Universe! If you could take a spaceship through such a tunnel, or wormhole, you would have discovered the secret of time travel. This is of course impossible with today’s technology. But in the future, who knows?

Mini wormholes
Einstein’s equations describe a spacetime that is perfectly smooth, like the rubber sheet. His theory of relativity only deals with the physics of what happens on big scales. It cannot deal with what happens at the centre of a black hole, or what happened during the moment of the Big Bang at the birth of the Universe when spacetime itself was infinitesimally small. That takes us back into the world of quantum physics.
If you could look at spacetime with a magnifying glass so powerful that it reached down to the quantum scale, you would not see the smooth, continuous sheet of Einstein’s spacetime. Just as a foam rubber ball looks smooth from a distance but rough and ragged close up. In this picture of spacetime it is quite likely that tiny holes could open up, entrances to little tunnels between now and other times, or between here and other universes. Another option for future time travellers would be somehow to harness these tiny wormholes and expand them.

Many worlds, many futures?
To return to the question that has puzzled thinkers since Newton’s day, is the future preordained? Or are there an infinite number of futures? One way of looking at the quantum world suggests that not only are there an infinite number of futures, but they are realised in an infinite number of universes.
Photons and electrons sometimes behave as waves and sometimes as particles, but never both at the same time. So far, the argument for interference between one universe and another applies only to events occurring at the quantum level.
But the idea of parallel universes provides a possible resolution to the ‘grandfather paradox’ that might otherwise cause problems for time travellers. If we travel back in time and change history, we launch ourselves into a new future in a parallel universe – but we have no effect on the present one from which we started out.

Scientists of the future may well pursue a new form of futuristic technology based on quantum effects. Such applications could include quantum teleportation, by which a quantum particle can be teleported from one point in space to another; and quantum computation, where calculations can be carried out which would take many years on a conventional computer. Although we now know how to measure time very accurately, have we come any nearer to answering the basic question ‘What is time?’.

Neil Johnson is a Physics lecturer at Oxford University where he heads his own research group.

Extraterrestrial Art

februari 27th, 2006

On the 2nd of June 2003 an artpiece was send to another planet for the first time in human history. The painting, by Damien Hirst, consists of 16 multi-coloured spots on a 5cm by 5cm aluminium plate which was bolted to the lander, which was send to Mars . It had to cope with the cold of Mars, where temperatures drop to minus 70C, and pre-launch sterilisation which heats the painting to 155C.
Every part was designed to be useful. The aluminium plate was used to calibrate Beagle 2’s X-ray, the colours will check the camera, and minerals in the pigments would correct the sensor measuring the soil’s iron content. Beagle 2, named after the famous exploration-ship of Darwin, was launched on board the European Space Agency Mars Express craft from Kazakhstan.
Before Mars Express enters the orbit of Mars, Beagle 2 will be jettisoned and bounce to the planet’s surface, cushioned by inflatable bags. It will analyse sub-surface soil and rocks and take samples of the atmosphere to find out if life ever existed there.
Prof Pillinger, who commisioned Hirst said: “This collaboration is not about displaying art in space but about finding out if there is life on Mars.”
Just a few inches across and resembling a child’s watercolour paint box, the trademark Hirst spot painting was bolted to the British Beagle 2 space probe after a preview at London’s White Cube gallery.


The pop group Blur also has a Beagle 2 connection. They wrote the call sign which the probe would send to mission control when it landed on Mars. (listen to the song on BBC website)

Beagle 2 was last seen heading for the red planet after separating from its European Space Agency mothership Mars Express on December 19 2003. Part of a mission estimated to cost $85 million, the probe was supposed to land on Mars a few days later on Christmas Day and search for signs of life, but vanished without trace…

SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, is an exploratory science that seeks evidence of life in the universe by looking for some signature of its technology. (