Magnetic Movie

I will be posting at length about WordCampEd soon (which was a great event), but I want to throw a link to an absolutely amazing video I saw this afternoon at the Hirshhorn Museum called Magnetic Movie, created by Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt of Semiconductor. Remarkable, but not surprising, that artists are leading the way for thinking about visualizing unrepresentable concepts such as magnetic fields through digital art. This vision is made up of some wild effects and put to a series of recorded talks with professors from UC Berkeley, all framed in an empty lab which is a familiar setting they animated beautifully. What’s amazing about this short film is the way the scientists’ descriptions of these magnetic fields are visualized by the artists. There is a great confluence and tension happening in this video all at once, which makes for a fascinating meditation on representing the unrepresentable both visually and orally. This film incorporates such a cool mix of art, education, technology, and magic. Do yourself a favor and watch it.

Video Description:

The secret lives of invisible magnetic fields are revealed as chaotic ever-changing geometries. All action takes place around NASA’s Space Sciences Laboratories, UC Berkeley, to recordings of space scientists describing their discoveries. Actual VLF audio recordings control the evolution of the fields as they delve into our inaudible surroundings, revealing recurrent ‘whistlers’ produced by fleeting electrons . Are we observing a series of scientific experiments, the universe in flux, or a documentary of a fictional world?

Additionally, I got to see part of the Panza Collection that is currently on exhibit at the Hirshhorn Museum. An installation that was curated by Giuseppe and Rosa Panza–two Italian art collectors who have one of the most impressive collections of contemporary art in the world. This was a show featuring art from the minimalist movement of the 1960s and 1970s. I will be thinking about this work for a long time to come, and there is one piece in particular I can’t get out of my mind, and will be talking (and presenting) it at length soon.

But for now, I had a weird moment of Déjà vu yesterday afternoon in the Hirshhorn. While walking through the exhibit I saw a piece (which is pictured below) that I immediately knew I had seen before, but where?

Neon sign with words "Self-Defined
self-titled, originally uploaded by procsilas.

I guess I should have known it would be here. The Panza exhibit was one of the best I’ve ever seen, and what’s so cool about it is when you start it you’re reaction is like, “What, are you kidding me? This isn’t art!” But by the end, the cumulative effect brings you truly out of yourself in some very powerful and magical ways!

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2 Responses to Magnetic Movie

  1. With videos like this, nobody doesn’t like physics!!! Great post!

  2. Reverend says:


    I had a similar reaction while watching it, it made the increased attention to visualization we are hearing about far more powerful when I could witness how it effected my own imagination and fascination with a topic I am usually scared of. The way this video works in many ways frames an awesome way to imagine education, yet it is art and physics and video and education all at once. These forcibly isolated disciplines need each other to resonate more profoundly.

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