If you had a magic levitation device, what would you use it for? Every nascent technology confronts its developers with a question like this. In August 2018 Real World Visuals managed a bespoke project; to bring artists and engineers together for a workshop that enabled them to play with an ultrasonic levitating device.
Of course, the apparatus in question isn't really magic: it just looks like it. The device is able to levitate small, lightweight objects (solid and liquid) in an ultrasonic field of 40,000 Hz. Across the country, university engineers and technologists are researching this device and its affordances.
Our brief was to coordinate a workshop that initiated a collaboration between art and science. As artists often look at the world in an unusual and unexpected way, the workshop aimed to provide a space where scientists could tap into different approaches and ideas.
How did this come about?
In 2014, we began talking to Professor Sri Subramanian from Sussex University (who was then at Bristol University) about his bubble machine. As a data visualisation company, we were interested in ways in which we could use the machine to physically show greenhouse gas emissions like our carbon bubbles. Following this initial conversation, Sri came to us to see if we would like to be involved with a new proposal involving acoustic levitation and the potential of being able to visualise ‘things’ with it.
The Levitation Workshop took place over two days at Sussex University and brought together 8 artists and 9 engineers. Over the course of the workshop, artists were introduced to the technology to explore what the device could do, talk to engineers and experiment with their ideas. Watch the video of the workshop on Youtube.