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Sunday, December 02, 2007

Utterly BrilliantYesterday was World Aids Day, so to mark the occasion I headed straight for the Sussex Beacon charity shop (where I was overcharged for a t-shirt) before going into a nearby church to sit in quiet contemplation for half an hour. Whilst wearing a pair of headphones. As it happens, the Holy Trinity Church in Ship Street was deconsecrated in 1996 and is now an art gallery called Fabrica. Rather that than a bingo hall.

They opened a new exhibition on Friday which I wanted to see (I'm quite the culture vulture), so I headed down there at lunchtime yesterday. I'd have arrived earlier but they don't get going until 11:30am. It's the me of art galleries.

It turned out to be brilliant. Well, Brilliant Noise. The artists Ruth Jarman and Joseph Gerhardt, who call themselves Semiconductor (presumably because 'Jarman & Gerhardt' sounds like a law firm) spent five months at NASA's Space Sciences Laboratory in California, sifting through the archives and collecting photos of "some of the sun's finest unseen moments", which they then put together into a film. Whether that constitutes art, or merely an episode of 'The Sky at Night', I'm not sure, but it was very good.

The film was projected onto three huge screens which ran down one side of the church gallery, and were accompanied by an almost deafening mixture of white noise, radio frequencies and general weirdness. It was all very hypnotic, and as I stood there consumed by the swirling, pulsating flashes of solar winds, I did start to wonder if it was all just some kind of subliminal attempt to get me to buy their DVD. In fact, standing in the middle of a church, watching what looks like a mind-control film, you do start to feel like you've joined some kind of religious cult. And with the number of flashing images, it's not really art for epileptics. But despite all that, I was very impressed.

There were two other Semiconductor films on display, complete with headphones to block out the sun. The first was Do You Think Science..., a twelve-minute film of American space physicists being asked abstract questions about science. It was all very interesting, though I couldn't help feeling that the only thing which made it art was the sign above the screen.

Magnetic MovieMagnetic Movie on the other hand, was far more arty, and my personal favourite of the three. Jarman and Gerhardt appeared to have wandered around NASA's corridors and laboratories with a video camera, before animating a colourful visual representation of magnetic fields and moving particles onto the footage. It's kinda trippy (I'm sure Brian Sewell uses that phrase), but amazingly beautiful.

Fortunately, if you find the idea of a green magnetic field coming out of a laboratory and bouncing towards you down a corridor hard to imagine, then don't worry: it's on Channel 4 at midnight tonight.