Space Noise

Maite Iribarren (Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design and College of Engineering)

Over the three months I spent meeting with Professor Moldwin and visiting his lab in the Space Physics Research Laboratory, I became strongly interested in the problems his team faced in developing a space-ready magnetometer. The main difficulty for the magnetometer is filtering out distortions in magnetic fields created by space storms, the largest and most disruptive of which are coronal mass ejections (CMEs). The structure of a CME is graphically depicted above.

I aimed to create a physical manifestation of a CME. The product is a playful and mystical, yet tangible impression of a CME. The Space Noise sculpture is composed of a main volume on stands that precisely position the volume just above eye level. The main volume is welded together from rolled CNC plasma cut sheet steel with the internal component having been pulled from flat sheet into its final form. This net-like portion of the volume houses two neon lights acting as the dense plasma core of a CME. The hemispherical end of the volume conceals a small motor, which vibrates to create a buzz, giving the piece an energetic presence that feels powerful and uncertain. As the volume balances on comparatively thin legs, the vibration drives a sense of instability.

In the process of making Space Noise, I created another piece. I arranged the remaining negative steel cut sheets of the sculpture to compose an abstracted hypothetical depiction of a CME in space. The steel sheets are overlaid and separated by an inch of wood, creating depth where the cut-outs on the front sheet expose those on the back. This cut-steel unconventional take on a landscape painting hangs from the two ends of wood coming out the sides of the main steel body.