Danceroom Spectroscopy Festival debuts in Bristol after Olympics and Barbican shows

By Culture24 Reporter | 14 October 2013

At Brunel’s Old Station, a 21-metre, 360-degree visual projection, combining molecular physics, ambient tunes and the latest technology, is about to become the “danceroom” home of the inaugural Spectroscopy Festival – devoted to the invisible, nanoscale atomic world making up everything we know and our bodies.

A photo of a man standing against a light projection
Motion sensors, 3-D imaging and molecular mechanics in Bristol© Watershed
The public will be tempted to play with their own movements and energy forces during the three-day debut of a force field which is about to embark on a national tour. And the final two days feature a series of choreographed dance performances, arriving after a daytime programme including talks by the Royal Society Research Fellow behind the idea.

“It’s always been a challenge for scientists to visualise the invisible world of nano-molecules,” says David Glowacki, a scientist originally from Milwaukee who has been working on this concept in his role at Bristol University since 2010.

“We are used to seeing ball and stick representations. But by working with a talented team comprised of musicians, computer scientists, choreographers, dancers and artists, we have been able to do something completely new and different – an interactive and inspiring way to catch a glimpse of the dynamic atomic world in which we’re embedded.

“We can imagine how our own energy fields link to the atomic world that surrounds us all the time, but is too small for our eyes to see.

“It’s incredible to experience, and will hopefully make us see ourselves in a completely different way.”

The danceroom has appeared at the Cultural Olympiad and the Barbican, enhanced by Glowacki’s residency with the city’s Pervasive Media Studio.

“It's been a joy to work with David over the last three years and to help bring his ideas to fruition,” says Clare Reddington, of the group.

“It’s rare to find a world-class collaborative research project that creates significant value in both scientific and artistic terms.

“It gives me real pleasure to see this launching in Bristol. I can't wait to see what he does next."

Before heading out across the land, the “exhibit” will be open for schools and students to embroil themselves in free of charge.

“We first met David three months ago,” says Claire Greenwood, a Liaison Officer for co-organisers Watershed, who has worked with Fairfield High School.

“We were spellbound by the possibility that danceroom Spectroscopy could offer in helping us engage young people in science.

“We have been working with David to develop his genius mechanism for creating an immersive and interactive way to understand atoms and molecules.”

“It’s not always easy to engage children with physics,” admits Greenwood.

“All our pupils are incredibly excited to be visiting it.”


More pictures:

A photo of a group of people standing inside a light installation in a darkened room
© Watershed
A photo of a group of women standing in front of a light projection
© Watershed
A photo of an extremely colourful wall projection inside a room full of people
© Watershed
A photo of a woman dancing while holding hands with people against light illuminations
© Watershed
A photo of two people dancing inside a dark room lit by a wall projected illumination
© Watershed
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