Art has often been driven by science. In the mid-19th century the introduction of paint in tubes and increasingly portable easels allowed painters to work outdoors and experiment with natural light. The futurist movement in the early 20th century emphasised and glorified the dynamism of the modern technologies of the industrial city. The invention of photographic and cinematic technology allowed for entirely new artistic mediums.
In 2009 Roger Hiorns produced a work called Seizure that combined art with chemistry. The work seeks to turn the idea of sculpture inside out. Rather than present a sculpture inside an architectural space, he’s turned every surface of the architectural space into sculpture.
The entirety of a derelict London apartment was sealed with plastic sheeting. 80,000 litres of a copper sulphate solution was mixed with the aid of a chemist and then pumped through a hole in the ceiling. When dissolved in water, salts dissociate into the ions that make them up. In this case the ions were copper and sulphate which have charges of 2+ and 2- respectively, making them attract each other. When the water is removed by evaporation or by being pumped out the ions come together to form a solid. A crystal is a solid in which the atoms are arranged in a highly structured lattice. The rate at which this crystallisation occurs is connected to the rate at which the solution cools. For this work, over a month was allowed for cooling, such that large and complex crystal structures could form.
Last year the work was saved from demolition and is now displayed in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
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