The Observer Effect

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The Observer Effect exhibition was the culmination of a collaborative research project with artist Johanna Bolton. The exhibition explored the process of observation as artistic investigation and was informed by the quantum theory of the same name, which proposes that simply through the process of observing, an observer alters the thing they are looking at. Detailed investigations into everyday objects, forms and occurrences revealed their underlying complexity and depth and suggested that the observer is equally altered through the act of observation.

observer_10 A specimen drawer from the Collection from the Museum of Light displays archived light samples.

observer_02 A visitor observes the 365 observations of light from A Year of Light, a project undertaken for the International Year of Light 2015

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The exhibition included works from Michaela’s recent Daylight Observations project, in which changes in the luminance, intensity and colour of daylight are recorded from selected locations over a specified duration.

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The 365 observations of light, 365 images for Michaela’s recent project A Year of Light. An image/observation of light was posted each day on Twitter throughout 2015 for the International Year of Light.

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Detail of the images from the A Year of Light project.

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Daylight Observations No.1 (Summer, July 2015) and No.2 (Winter, December 2015).

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Detail from Daylight Observation No.1 (Summer, July 2015).

The Motion of Matter

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The Motion of Matter was a collaborative research project and exhibition with artist Johanna Bolton based upon Aristotle’s description of motion ‘as the passage of matter into form’. Aristotle postulated that no observation of the physical world could ignore the principles of motion, which he classified into four categories:

“motion which affects the substance of a thing
motion which brings about changes in quality
motion which brings about changes in quantity
motion which brings about locomotion”

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Through structured and intimate observations, the Motion of Matter investigated the multitude of ways motion changes our interpretations of and interactions with the material world. Based upon the durational daylight observations begun during the residency at the Old Lookout Gallery in July 2015, Michaela’s work in this exhibition explored the interaction between light and motion. Her process of observing changes in light from a single location across a day became equally focused upon the experience of stillness as it did about the motion of the orbiting earth.

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The exhibition included Projection Boxes and Light Specimen Drawers from the Collection of the Museum of Light as well as Michaela’s durational Daylight Observation prints. Johanna’s works included two and three dimensional sculptural objects, moving image and photographic prints.

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Photographs by Dominic Tschudin.

The Old Lookout

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It sometimes it is necessary to ‘step-off’ the rollercoaster ride of working life and find a place where time is measured by changes in light and tides and passing of long, quite days. Thanks to Karen Shepherdson, I have just returned from such a place, having spent nine days as Artist in Residence at the Old Lookout Gallery in Broadstairs in Kent, UK. The gallery is in an idiosyncratic old leaning weatherboard building on the jetty with views across the English Channel. It is slightly rough-hewn but beautiful. I found it deeply luxurious to sit and watch the sea whilst ruminating about the experience of being a body in light.

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Outside the locals partied on the esplanade on Friday evenings, cooked welks in a large steaming pot on Sunday morning and spoke of the weather often. Day-trippers rolled in like a tide at 9.45am and rolled out again, significantly pinker, at 6.00pm.

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Being there was all about rhythm, the rhythm of light, tide and life. My days went slowly and I spent my time researching and developing three light collection methods which will form the basis of my ongoing Museum of Light project. After some coaxing, all the techniques worked well and saw me observing, tracking and following light around the gallery space from dawn until dusk.

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The result is a collection of photographic sequences, luminance and colour temperature data and visual and text-based observations of changes in light within a specific frame. My challenge now is to collate this data, investigate what correlations result from these different approaches and to produce a series of art works based on these observations.

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The intended outcomes of the residency are a pocket sized publication titled ‘A Light Collector’s Field Guide’, a short film about light and global orbit and the addition of a new data set to the Museum of Light archive.

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One night, two countries, three shows

Friday 29th May seemed like another ordinary working day, most of it was spent assessing undergraduate Illustration & Animation portfolios at the Cambridge School of Art. Life has been so busy lately there hasn’t been any time for reflection, so any current activity tends to erase those that have gone before. it was only when I was walking to the train, in the last of the evening sunshine, after the work was done and I’d enjoyed a gin and tonic at the Six Bells, it occurred to me that it was in fact a quietly momentous evening. I had three art works performing and screening across the world in one night. Andrée Greenwell’s Gothic performed in the Sydney Vivid Festival, Orbit No.1 screened at the Zeiss Planetarium FullDome Festival in Jena and Circa’s Carnival of the Animals performed at the Come Out Children’s Festival in Adelaide. And I was walking quietly home without any of the excitement of being there, but with a deeply satisfying sense of achievement.

gothic_08 Gothic performs at the Seymour Centre in Sydney.

orbit-no2 Still frame from fulldome animation Orbit No.2.

cota_16 Shark attack in Circa’s Carnival of the Animals.

A Good Year

2014 was a good year. It began in Berlin…travelled via Hoddesdon, London, Cambridge, Lille, Brisbane, Canberra, Reidsdale, Sydney, Whitstable, Margate and Seville. For a while the circus ran away with me, but I came home to grow quinces, renovate my garden and enjoy a glorious English summer.
I experienced a mystical moment with Joe Brown and ‘Passing the Buck’ at Margate Retro, saw beautiful art and spent time with the people who make my life great. September saw me embark upon a PhD in Information Experience Design at Royal College of Art, London and begin playing with the Snail’s Progress Gamelan Orchestra. What adventures!

The fun looks set to continue in 2015 with new light mapping projects, exhibitions and collaborations in theatre and architectural spaces. Stay tuned…

DIY Planetarium


This week I’ve made a portable planetarium dome using references and instructions from enthusiastic DIY dome builders who share their knowledge online. The dome is for a collaborative project with the IED Masters students from the Exploded Screen elective at Royal College of Art and the Planetarium at the Royal Observatory Greenwich. It is fifteen years since I first designed images in a planetarium but the fulldome projection space remains a joy, so creating this small hemisphere has been a pleasure.


Gore panels were cut to size using this calculator.


Overlocking the cotton lycra panels in the Fashion Menswear studio at RCA.


Fibreglass tent poles make the framework and despite a few nervous moments it fits together beautifully.


Hayden, Kelly and Yasmeen complete the structure with cable ties.


Setting up the projector, thanks to Kevin for his resourceful use of student lockers and to Rob, Ed and Tom from RMG for making it possible.


The Exploded Screen students project fulldome tests during the morning crit.