Scientifically Saturday

From: jeanne liotta (email suppressed)
Date: Fri Apr 28 2006 - 10:42:55 PDT


The Aerodynamics of the Hovering Hummingbird: Science, Cinema, and
Ways of Seeing

Sat. April 29, 8pm
Millennium Film Workshop
66 E. 4th St. (between Bowery & 2nd Ave.)
Phone: 212-673-0090

Curated by Jennifer MacMillan and Bradley Eros

In June 2005, Doug Warrick and his colleagues at Oregon State
University published their research findings on the flight of the
hummingbird. Their remarkable discovery revealed that the
hummingbird's wing movement is a hybrid between a bird and an insect,
and that the insect-like aerodynamic tricks give the hummingbird its
unique hovering ability. Inspired by this paper, published in Nature
453 (2005), we have created our own experiment to investigate the
cross-pollination of scientific visualization and poetic document.
Our materials and methods include star studies, satellite recordings,
subaquatic and botanical investigations, liquid crystals, visual
music performance generated from the scientific instrument, high
speed motion studies, a discussion of subatomic physics, and readings
of the 10 most beautiful experiments of science!

This visual demonstration is designed to test our hypothesis that
cinema and science are alike in their approach to the investigation
of nature, with both fields using the image as data. As Jean
Painleve, the marine biologist & pioneering filmmaker revealed,
"Filming a once invisible world with a once only imagined instrument
. . .," this show explores myriad ways of seeing through a spectrum
of capturing devices and projections from super-8 to satellite. Like
the other objects of study in this laboratory of poetics, the
hummingbird can be viewed through visual kinematics, musical
mathematics, or performative dynamics, illuminating the miniature
nectivore's refracting iridescent feathers, its wing movement of 200
times a minute, or its surprising flight patterns - backwards,
sideways, & upside down. Hover like a hummingbird, flicker like a
        -JM & BE

NINETEEN DOTS AND A HUMMINGBIRD by Ramon Rivera Moret, with sound by
Roland Vajs, video, duration variable (Intro loop)
Working with high-speed video data gathered by Doug Warrick et al.
for their paper "Aerodynamics of the Hovering Hummingbird" Nature 453
(2005), a digitally manipulated loop experiment has been created to
slowly reveal the hummingbird flight through surprising perspectives.


10). Foucault's pendulum - video & reading by Jeanne Liotta
  9). Rutherford's discovery of the nucleus - reading by Peter Steinberg

EDGERTON'S HIGH SPEED MOTION STUDIES, courtesy of Mike Olshan, 16mm,
b/w, with a new soundtrack by Eros, 10 min.
While studying electrical engineering at MIT, Harold Eugene Edgerton
developed a strobe light technique, which led him to the invention of
the electric flash. This advance in photography would enable him to
capture a few of the fastest & smallest moments in time, including
the flight of a bird, the movement of a fly, and the iconic milk drop
splash as physical phenomenon. The ultimate pioneer of scientific

ECLIPSE by Jeanne Liotta 2005 16mm film, color 3:30 minutes sound by BDF
A lunar eclipse event, 11.09.03, documented and translated via the
light-sensitive medium of Kodachrome film. In the 4th c BCE Aristotle
founded The Lyceum, a school for the study of all natural phenomena
pursued without the aid of mathematics, which was considered too
perfect for application on this imperfect terrestial sphere. This
film then, in the spirit of.
A sample of the 16mm field recordings for 'Observando el Cielo', an
upcoming project taking place in a constellation of mediums,
witnessing the cosmos
from my own backyard. -JL

ACROSYNAXIS by Anthony Jay Ptak, Performance for Thereminvox, 10 min
Utilizing the theremin's principle of interference to feed back into
itself an exponential deconstruction of the instrument, the frequency
of oscillation along a unified temporal axis, reflects a recursive
bridging of distance in a soundscape of interference. Much like the
1000th of a second captured image of Warrick's hovering hummingbird,
or the Kino-Glaz reality 24 times per second delineated by Dziga
Vertov, or John Cage's Future of Music Credo which alludes to
Beethoven as a material operating at 50 times per second and rejects
imitative use of the theremin. This electro-acousmatic work
concentrates on sound as a carrier of information. - AJP

LIQUID CRYSTALS, Jean Painleve video, color, with Bradley Eros
reading poetry from Crystallography by Christian Bok, 6 min.
A pioneer of science films, Jean Painleve has managed both to
fascinate men of science and move poets and cinephiles by revealing
the once-hidden worlds of vampire bats, paramecia, water fleas,
octopi, seahorses, and liquid crystals. Son of a mathematician and
politician Paul Painleve, he has always been an independent thinker
(a scientist once called him a "fantasist"), who teamed up with
avant-gardists between the two world wars and cultivated anarchist
opinions while at the wheel of his Lancia or Bugatti. -From "Jean
Painleve Reveals the Invisible," 1986.

THE GALILEAN SATELLITES: GANYMEDE by Courtney Hoskins (2003 (part 3
of 4 of The Galilean Satellites) 16mm, sound, color, 3 min.
Ganymede is the cup-bearer of the gods. Though he shows some
superficial signs of age, the protection of Jupiter and his distance
from the sun keep him in a state of eternal youth- his younger,
liquid self cross-hatched with a cracked and ageing skin. This film
is the third of a four-part series dedicated to filmmaker Stan
Brakhage. The inspiration for these films came from the incredible
images and sounds coming from the Galileo space probe. - CH

POLYMER by Courtney Hoskins & Carl Fuermann (2003- Digital files
recorded onto 16mm film, silent, color, 23 sec.)
Living hundreds of miles apart, but drawn to collaborate on a film,
the two needed to be creative. Carl hatched an idea: he sent the
first image- a simple jpeg attachment to an e-mail message. Courtney
downloaded the image, manipulated it, and sent it back. The end
result was a chain of 45 individual frames consisting of a sort of
"Universal Magic-" images of hurricanes as seen from space juxtaposed
with spiral galaxies, jellyfish, single-cell organisms, microscopic
images of liquid crystals and various other images gleaned from the
world of science. All of these images were captured on scales
separated by thousands of orders of magnitude (as Carl and I were)
and through various wavelengths of light to be re-imagined through
the artist's eye. - CH

8. Galileo's exp. with rolling balls down inclined planes - reading
by Mike Olshan
7. Eratosthenes' measurement of the Earth's circumference - reading
by Ray Sweeten

VOID RATIO by Ray Sweeten, oscilloscope performance, video, 7 min.
A piece for four oscilloscopes. An oscilloscope is an analog
instrument that graphs the flow of electrical impulse on an x and y
axis. Though its main applications are in scientific research, Ray
uses the 'scope to visualize _compositions of sweeping electronic
sound, creating sculptural Lissajous patterns and tesselations that
seem to journey into the beyond. - RS

VISIONS IN COLLISIONS, a presentation by Peter Steinberg, Brookhaven
National Laboratory, 15 min
I am a staff physicist at Brookhaven National Laboratory, currently
serving as Project Manager for PHOBOS, one of the four experiments
studying particle interactions at the Relativistic Heavy Icon
Collider (RHIC.) At RHIC, we study collisions of nuclei in an attempt
to create a super-hot and super-dense state of matter that has not
been accessible in any quantity since the big bang 13.7 billion years
ago. The collisions create thousands of particles, which we study
with a set of sophisticated detectors... the field right now is
trying to determine its most important questions for the future, and
where to answer them. - PS


6). Cavendish's torsion-bar experiment - reading by ?
5). Young's light-interference experiment - reading by Anthony J. Ptak

Excerpt from A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME, Errol Morris's documentary on
Stephen Hawking, video, 5 min.
What do we know about the universe, and how do we know it? Where did
the universe come from, and where is it going? Did the universe have
a beginning, and if so, what happened before then? What is the
nature of time? Will it ever come to an end? Can we go back in
time? Recent breakthroughs in physics, made possible in part by
fantastic new technologies, suggest answers to some of these long
standing questions. Someday these answers may seem as obvious to us
as the earth orbiting the sun - or perhaps as ridiculous as a tower
of tortoises. Only time (whatever that may be) will tell. - Stephen

PRESEPE (2004) by Bruce McClure, modified, multiple projection, 12 min.
Part one and on this side of the punched plate scenics, darkness is
shaped and zippered-up in the flicker shuffle between two machines
hurling out syncopated flash and bump projectiles like unnumbered
sheep materialized as electric traces in friendly in-betweens. . . .
Within certain limits each projector meters out the light according
to a standard frequency established in a concordat between
physiological psychology and an economy of practice . . . It is here
that the noisy Cyclops with its first light critical flicker is
rejoined by a broadcast of sound that agitates the hegemony reigning
over the binocular guests who share its cave. -BM

AURORA BOREALIS by Bradley Eros, 16mm, color, sound 10 min.
An homage to two lyrical surrealists of the cinematic collage, Joseph
Cornell and Jean Painleve. Made entirely of science & nature
footage, through a process of subtracting the original expository
devices, and emphasizing the oneiric beauty and confusion of scale,
where the microscopic is analogous to the astrologic, and the
insertion of unexpected diversions and creatures creates nocturnal
associations and uncanny perceptions. A work more alchemical than
clinical, focused on decay and regeneration, with a hypnotic
sountrack by Messiaen. - BE

4). Newton's decomposition of sunlight with a prism - reading by
Bruce McClure 3). Millikan's oil-drop experiment - reading by Zach

Layton, audio and video generated through brainwave activity, 8 min.
Zach Layton is a New York-based composer and improviser versed in
biofeedback techniques, psychoacoustics and perception. His work
complex relationships created through the interactionof simple core
elements such as sine waves. His interest in biofeedback led him into
the research of
music produced by the human brain and the construction of a homemade
Electroencephalograph (EEG), which he now uses in performance.
Tonight's performance will also feature realtime manipulation of 2
and 3 dimensional contour maps that morph according to data received
from the brainwaves - ZL

THE GARDEN DISSOLVES INTO AIR by Jennifer MacMillan, super 8 to 16mm
to video, color, sound, 6 min.
A cinematic exploration through the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, using
a super-8 camera and the simple power of observation; a document of
flowers, butterflies, dragonflies, and goldfish has been captured and
analyzed through the optical printer and Final Cut Pro. A true
film/video hybrid of science & imagination, this digitally
manipulated 16mm film, in some small way approaches the marsh flowers
of Odilon Redon, where the marvels of nature become part of the dream
world! - JM

2). Galileo's experiment on falling objects - video and reading by
Jeanne Liotta
1). Young's double-slit experiment applied to the interference of
single electrons - reading by Jennifer MacMillan & Bradley Eros


For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.