2019 Honorable Mention – Maite Iribarren

Space Noise

This piece is my work from the Moldwin Prize Art/Sci Residency. Over the three months spent meeting with Professor Moldwin and visiting his lab in the U of M 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).

I aimed to create a physical manifestation of a CME translated from data and scientific models into physical form language. I synthesized and abstracted the research and data I found on these massive and intangible space storms to do so. The product is a playful and mystical, yet tangible impression of a CME.

The Space Noise sculpture is composed of a main volume on lifts 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 is a CME. As the volume balances on comparatively thin legs, the vibration drives a sense of instability.