Wednesday, November 30, 2005

My project has morphed into my concern and focus on phenomenas. I am constructing a clepsydra as first proposed in my research. I will make a video versus an installation as I do not believe I have enough time to construct a well considered space. This will be a visualization of time.

Susan has suggested that the water drop needs to interact with 'something' to construct a metaphor. I agree with this. I have ideas of using rock salt as a co-actor to the droplet.
Excerpted from Wikipedia ( ): "...The Bible contains numerous references to salt. In various contexts, it is used metaphorically to signify permanence, loyalty, durability, fidelity, usefulness, value, and purification..." Additionally the metaphor figures in Hebrew metaphysics as the covenant of salt.

All the sacred gifts that the Israelites set aside for the Lord I give to you, to your sons, and to the daughters that are with you, as a due for all time. It shall be an everlasting covenant of salt before the Lord for you and for your offspring as well. (Numbers 18:19)

In Kabbala it is recognized as a tool of immutability with properties that can destroy as well as preserve.

Science shows us that di-electric properties are dependent on ionized substances like salt. The supposition that the first life on planet earth originated from the sea is no surprise due to the fact that the salinity of the sea led to complex energy transferences. Salts are absolutely necessary to life and an eletrolyte deficiency can cause severe medical problems or death. Conversely an over abundance of salt will create hypertension, dehydration and can lead to death as well.

Salt's necessity it has shaped society through taxes, trade, remember the spice trade from the Mid-East during the medieval period.
Some dubious scholarship claims that a famine of salt caused insanity and led to human slaughter during the Middle Ages in order to consume the 'salty flesh'. This is purported to have given birth or reinforced the vampiric legends of blood consumption. The research looks very dubious when I tried to cross reference this.

Salt therefore becomes the a metaphor for life, the body, and sacred spiritual existence as well. I am trying to track down a fair size piece of naturally occurring rock salt. The health food/alternative medicine industry sells Himalayan rock salt. Its' proponents ascribe to the medical and spiritual properties of this mineral. I am intrigued by it because it has a pinkish cast from the Iron content in the deposits. This is formally interesting to my eye and eludes again to blood because of the salt in the fluid and hemoglobin is an iron compound as well.

I bought a separation funnel as my clepsydra. This precision instrument is made for distilling chemistry. I am intrigued about using the highly fabricated device as an early technological horology instrument. In a way it seems anti-technological.

Monday, November 28, 2005

So I was contemplating making a video about the effects of traveling near the speed of light and have bagged the idea. Below is the transcript of my emails with a relativity expert.

Thomas Asmuth
to kavs
More options Nov 27 (1 day ago)
Hi I am in the pursuit of making a film about Special Theory of
Relativity. To develop my film I have been trying to construct a
thought experiment. I was wondering if you would look at my thought
experiment and see if it follows mathematical/physics predictions
about the situation I pose. Any help is greatly appreciated.

Thank you for your time.
Thomas Asmuth
Room 206A
SJSU Art&Design


here's my supposition:

Two Friends, Thomas and Samoht decide to celebrate the centennial
anniversary of STR with a martini cocktail. Befitting this occasion
they decide to do have a relativistic toast and cocktail party. In
order to facilitate this idea Thomas will remain in a frame of
reference that is at rest while Samoht accelerates to approximately
98% of the speed of light in his special developed vehicle. They have
agreed prior to the launch of Samoht that they will have a
synchronized toast to the history of STR when Samoht's ship reaches a
prescribed point of distance from Thomas' ship. Each colleague knows
that mixing the proper cocktail takes exactly 3:15 minutes and thus
they will start the drinks 3:30 min. (3:15 plus 15 seconds) before the
synchronized point X, giving them a few moments to repose with the
cocktail before they begin the toast at the agreed coordinates.

This assumes they are experimenting in a section of space completely
devoid of any other bodies other than the ships that Thomas and Samoht
occupy. Assuming instantaneous communication exists so that Thomas and
Samoht can telepresently monitor one another, what would Thomas and
Samoht each witness?

I believe that Thomas would witness a slow motion (5x slowdown) of
Samoht as he prepares and toasts. Thomas would see Samoht start at
17:30 minutes before the point of synchronization but it would appear
to take Samoht 5 times as long to prepare.

Logic tells me Samoht's monitor would show the opposite: Thomas would
appear that he waits to the last second achieving the task in 42
seconds (5 times as fast) instead of 3:30 minutes.

Thomas Asmuth
Room 206A
SJSU Art&Design

To which Ken replied:

Ken and Vicki to me
Nov 27 (1 day ago)
Yes okay, I'm delighted to be of assistance. Well, I'm afraid your suppositions are nearly 100% incorrect... and the assumption of "instantaneous communication", even though it is merely a fictional assumption, introduced solely to simplify your thought experiment, it cuts straight against the fundaments of relativity. Relativity is entirely premised on the impossibility of instantaneous communication between remote locales! But OK, we'll let that assumption stand anyway; I'm in a charitable mood.

The main problem with your write-up is that the distortions of relativity in flat space (what is generally classified as 'Special Relativity')... those distortions are completely covariant, ie. mutual. So, quite simply, whatever Thomas witnesses of Samoht, Samoht will witness of Thomas. They both see each other's time slow down! A second problem with your write-up is that the entire notion of simultaneity between two disparate frames becomes utterly moot (ie. undefined) under relativity. Only if Samoht came to a dead stop with respect to Thomas could the two of them then establish any real premise of simultaneity. Of course, by then, the accelerations that the one undergoes has thrown things off considerably.

And yet still another problem in your write-up is the fact that the "prescribed point" where Samoht will drink his toast is a predefined distance from Thomas' ship! Once the two fellows are in motion with respect to one another, that distance becomes distorted (by Samoht's reckoning), and that changes things considerably.

To better understand the complexities involved, please read that section of my web site labelled Addendum IV,

Thanks for your interest,
Sincerely, Ken

Add the fact that I then saw the ways of my error:

Thank you for the feedback. As I thought on this after I had emailed
you I came up with similar misgivings. So the conclusions I come to is
that the only way to measure or compare is for the two to return to
the same frame (i.e. Samoht to return) and compare clocks. If Thomas
accelerates though to catch his friend, it will distort time and space
similarly and probably negate any effectual difference.
Am I on target?

Thank you,

Ken's affirmation of my understanding:

Yes, you're on target, assuming Thomas undergoes the precise same
accelerations and motions that his friend had, their clocks will agree once
they are together again.

SO I decided I am not ready to make this film because I can not solve these issues in mind artistically or not, thus I defer this work until another day.
I did some shots in my kitchen this evening. I was concentrating on trying to get really precision shots of the droplet hit the water. I set up black felt and was using three flashlights to light the subject. I got very poor results from the flashlights. I then moved to an incandescent flood lamp. This additionally frustrated me because I couldn't focus the light to a point. A compromise was a 20watt halogen light stripped from my bookcase. It had a small enough 'footprint' not to blow out my shot otherwise.

The camera also had a minimum focal length that frustrated me. I will need to abandon the idea that I will be able to get that perfect high velocity shots I am after. I will still try to get as close as possible.

I don't know maybe I won't use any of this.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Research for Last Project

Time has been my enemy all semester. So I will embrace it.

"To know your enemy, you must become your enemy ... Keep your friends close and your enemies closer." -The Art of War, Sun Tzu (400 BC)

A water clock or clepsydra is a device for measuring time by letting water regularly flow out of a container usually by a tiny aperture. These devices are one of the oldest time keeping apparatuses independent on observation of celestial bodies. The earliest examples are found in use in Egypt around 1500 BC. The artifacts appear in Greece around 350 BC who termed the appliance: clepsydra or "water thief". Intricacy and complexity continued to develop with some of the most complex of these structures built by the Greek and Roman peoples between 100 BC and 500 CE. Chief amongst the complex clepsydra is the Horlogion, a tower was built in the first half of the 1st century BC by the astronomer Andronicos, from Kyrrhos in Macedonia.

The Flexibility of the Space -Time Continuum

"Newton's dissection of the rainbow into light of different wavelengths led on to Maxwell's theory of electromagnetism and thence to Einstein's theory of special relativity. If you think the rainbow has poetic mystery, you should try relativity." -Bar Codes in the Stars,Richard Dawkins

Known as the special theory of relativity, Einstein's master equation energy equals mass time the square of the speed of light has become a cult icon in the contemporary period. I tend to believe the popularity is due to the metaphysical implications of the this very physical theory. If you take that all things in the universe are made from the same fundamental stuff this theory implies the interconnectedness of all things in our universe. Matter, energy, space and time become irreversibly intertwined in this theory and a conceptual web becomes very real.

The Special Theory of Relativity
1. First postulate (principle of relativity)
The laws of electrodynamics and optics will be valid for all frames of reference in which the laws of mechanics hold good (non-accelerating frames).
In other words: Every physical theory should look the same mathematically to every inertial observer; the laws of physics are independent of the state of inertial motion.
2. Second postulate (invariance of c)
Light is always propagated in empty space with a definite velocity c that is independent of the state of motion of the emitting body; here the velocity of light c is defined as the two-way velocity, determined with a single clock.

Implications: Since the velocity of light can never vary in a non-accelerating frame, time must slow in a frame of reference for the observer moving at a significant percentage of the speed of light.

A link to a webapp that calculates the time space interaction: Relativistic Star Ship Calculator

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Questions and Methodologies

So this gradual student wants to inform his artmaking more effectively and fulfill the assignment for Art 105 by Profesora Otto. (BTW I have been staring at the ceiling for 72 hours with li'l to no cognitive activity, leading me to think that I am possibly the love child of the unknown fourth Stooge. Thank the Gods on High for Insomnia!) In the pursuit of such endeavors here is some wacky and hair-brained shite:

questions to ponder:
what is the nature of time? (eww this should be trouble)
I will add more as my mind allows


(1)video, no kiddin'. This foist methodology is straight forward video project. Manipulate the TV experience.
(2)no visual shots of timepieces, daylight, or phenomena such as celestial bodies
(3)audio can be linked to compensate for the video exclusions
(4)no narration who needs it, plus I am talking about experiential concepts can I achieve it without feeding that TV generation mind, mst have auditory component
(5)one continuous shot that can be looped seamlessly, time has no start/end
(6)duration between 3 and 5 minutes cause I like odd numbers : )

(1) no video. no shite?! installation is not always video dependent
(2) uses technology that anyone can assemble or that is easily available
(3) auditory component
(4) cycles in 3 minute period has a beginning or end

(1) incorporates video and installation.
(2) visualizes and must form a spatial experience
(3) cycles in a 3 (or more) minute period
(4) audio
(5) hmmmmmmmmm


Time: to go the defintions please follow this wikipedia shortcut link for the complete page and links. The abstract nature of the concept of Time has confounded philosphers, scientists, etc. for thousands of years. The debate and effort to define this phenomena continues to contemporary times.

Let us consider these definitions, as put forth by Wikipedia:

Attempting to understand time has long been a prime occupation for philosophers, scientists and artists. There are widely divergent views about its meaning, hence it is difficult to provide an uncontroversial and clear definition of time except its physical definition, which dictionaries give as "a non-spatial linear continuum wherein events occur in an apparently irreversible order." This article looks at some of the main philosophical and scientific issues relating to time.
The measurement of time has also occupied scientists and technologists, and was a prime motivation in astronomy. Time is also a matter of significant social importance, having economic value ("time is money") as well as personal value due to an awareness of the limited time in each day and in our lives. Units of time have been agreed upon to quantify the duration of events and the intervals between them. Regularly recurring events and objects with apparently periodic motion have long served as standards for units of time - such as the apparent motion of the sun across the sky, the phases of the moon, the swing of a pendulum.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Meeting with Stanford's Solar Oscillations Investigation (SOI) Lab

The Observatory Team met with Philip H. Scherrer, Principal Investigator and Deborah Scherrer of Educational at Stanford's Solar Oscillations Investigation (SOI) Lab. The team presented the proposal to investigate the proposals goals, information, gather more information, and to request support. Deborah pointed out that it is actuall fallacy that irrepairable damage is done by staring into the sun. This was shocking news and I am not ready to personally do experimentation on this effect. This team and all of it's associates make no promises and discourage anyone from performing this act. Phil suggested I focus on the fact that the Sun could bee observed 24hours per day in my structure.

I reported the poor results in my findings on the play testing of the screensavers. Phil and Deborah informed me that this did not suprise them as the data stream coming to the SOI Lab comes irregularly. They were additionally suprised that EIT 195 updates every quarter hour.

Phil said he thought my idea was reasonably achievable to gather data more regularly. He saw issues with only projecting a real time image because of the relative quiet period we are in with Sun's cycles. It was suggested maybe we play some peak activity footage from the ten years that SOHO has been in flight. We checked the time period for the festival and the satellite should be operational during that period.

Deborah has contacts with other solar labs and said she would make some contacts with them for the Observatory Team. She knows of programs developed at UC Berkeley and UT. They were encouraging that some equipment maybe able to be loaned to our team in the pursuit of this project. Deborah was also going to check into an inflatable system for the structure. Additionally they have offered to make introductions to the Lockheed team build the next generation of Solar research platforms.

The SOI staff also offered webspace for the Observatory site and materials for the public. They provided samples to the team, including a punchout and fold together spectroscopy kit!

Overall Phil and Deborah were very encoraging. They agreed it is a good public outreach and thought it was a good project to pursue.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

methodologies discussions

The class discussed our methodology procedure for the last project. In general the class was very uncommitted. Some of the ideas thrown at the wall to see if they would stick are:


group projects
group methodology
independent methodology
Group projects completely failed (thank the gods on high!). Group methodology and independent methodologies were pretty well split down the center in supporters because of this Susan suggested the following variant: A group methodology that you either follow strictly or break every stance. In other words: take it or break it!

We started a list of standards which seemed to be coming out very arbitrary such as:

1. video
2. 1 to 5 min
3. all original footage
4. no repeat shots
5. possible: no man made set

We took a 5 minute break because this all seemed unsatisfactory and when we returned Susan requested that we have three methodological questions such as "what is your relationship to technology?" to compare with the rest of the class. For Friday night early Saturday morning a blog entry of 5 rules and the justification for them. Susan and I agree :we don't want arbitrary hurdles.

Other things to do before Monday:

research content
play with final cut pro to learn new
learn about artists to reference, project to reference

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Image: Hot Shots from SOHO. EIT 195 (Extreme-ultraviolet Imaging Telescope) image from a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) and Particle Storm on July 14, 2000.

Update to the Observatory Project

Today Sarah Lowe and I had a conference call with Steel Hill and George Dimitoglou from the SOHO project at the Goddard Flight Center in Maryland. As you remember, SOHO is the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, a sattelite launched Dec 1995 cooperatively run by the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA. SOHO houses several types of detection equipment and monitors the nearest variable star to earth, yes I mean the Sun. This data is collected both for research purposes and practical purposes such as keeping communications networks operational.

I presented the Observatory/Oculus proposal to Steel and George. I then requested help in developing a data feed from the sattelite to be able to project a near real time image of the Sun mediated through the satellite 24 hours per day for the length of the Zero One festival. My request had two specific points. (1) Does the SOHO lab receive data faster than the 4 hour periods published on the public website and (2) can I get a dedicated connection to this more frequent data so I can feed it into a software to control the projections.

(1)George informed me that the EIT 195 (Extreme-ultraviolet Imaging Telescope) reimages every 15 minutes. Thus this might be a reliable image to animate for the public.

(2)George and Steele directed us to screen saver software in the public side of the NASA/ESA. George said it might just have the animation techniques I am requesting available. The software already downloads the latest images from the website.

Additionally, George and Steele have promised support to the project in providing materials for public consumption.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Cloud Chamber Mark VI

This is the sixth version of a prototype particle detector I have built over the last 3 years. I see Mark VI and its’ kindred are a continued metaphor on the themes of the nature of reality. Whereas painting is an extension of the illusory reality like the shadows in Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, these projects allow visual evidence of reality that intersects our lives constantly yet lies beneath the usual visual perception.

This tool, known as a Langsdorf Cloud Chamber, allows one to witness the passage of some of the fundamental particles that make up everything in the universe as they pass unhindered through our world. Like spirits they pass through air, earth, and flesh and bone. We are in rivers of energy. It ebbs and flows around and through us and thus questions the concept of inside and out. The fact that this is the same material that makes all things questions the reality of individuality and distinctiveness.

Discussion of the project:

The cloud chamber project was recontextualized in a new format. The concept was to roll out the chamber in a transparent fashion revealing all of the components. The picture above shows the drawing I made in early October that started to form this idea. In my project I wanted to achieve a few (1) make a formal and aesthetic modernist statement in white and transparent media, (2) do good science, (3) have both of these themes play against one another to suggest the philosophical ideas I am concerned with. The fact that one can approach the experiment from all angles except below is highly effective strategy bridging those concepts of good public science and aesthetics.

Mark VI Technical

My scheme in this version is to illuminate all the parts and solve the problem with the focal length on the camera. In previous generations I had to adjust the camera as the angle the dry ice sublimated. The plexi structure solved the first issue by revealing all the parts; of course this required me to be very precise and neat in the fabrication, you cannot patch plexi very easily. The focal length issue was solved by making the table top ride down as it rode on ice. Four pins are intersect the platform holding ice as well as the second top on which the experiment sits. As the ice vaporizes*, the experiment and camera descend as a unit solving the earlier problem.
*dry ice goes from solid to vapor without turning to liquid at standard earth temperature/pressure, thus it is dry.

For two weeks straight I put in 15-18 hour days in the wood shop, making 5 or 6 trips per day to the hardware store to buy stuff, fabricating the Plexi box, doing research at the plastics shop. The actual craftsmanship became nerve-wracking. Even though all of the component took amazing focus, the custom work on the plexi box was a prime example.

Once the basic box was fabricated I needed to attach all of my equipment, which required careful cutting and milling of the plexi box. This took a lot of patience, as this material can be super fragile when cutting. Plexi shows any mistake so every surface was cleaned and padded between each move. Measure, make one cut, carefully clean, pad, measure, and so forth. Then repeat the procedure again. On top of that, the material costs were $200.00, the threat of breaking the materials meant I had to go excruitating slow: think out every procedure, discuss them with the shop manager, etc.

It was very important to me to fabricate each and every part of the experiment device. A few parts of course are off-the-shelf: the video camera, the fan, the ventilation hose... Overall I wanted to be the author of this sculpture. I wanted to use glass on the chamber itself for the longevity of the material. In the past I have used acrylic tube. The experimental components degrades acrylic. When I was offered a collaboration by Jeff Sarimiento of the SJSU Glass Lab, I eagerly accepted his proposal to make the experimental vessel. Mr. Sarimiento made a glass cylinder to my specs with the help of the glass blowing students. I feel that this custom labware only added to toward the formation an aesthetic object.