Pocket cinema: Experimental films by Semiconductor

February 9, 2010

The genre of experimental film has always had its audience, people who shared passion for experiments in celluloid as well as in digital projections. Experimental film is one of the luckiest genres in cinematography because with all technology development the scene around this really mesmerizing genre is capable to express the most stunning artworks and shapes…


Many experimental filmmakers work in the field of live performance, video dance and expanded cinema. Today I’m gonna share several films by Semiconductor. Back in 2007 I saw their film Brilliant Noise during 25FPS – International Festival of Experimental Film and Video in Zagreb.

Semiconductor make moving image works which reveal our physical world in flux; cities in motion, shifting landscapes and systems in chaos. Since 1999 UK artists Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt have worked with digital animation to transcend the constraints of time, scale and natural forces; they explore the world beyond human experience, questioning our very existence. (taken from official site)


Brilliant Noise ‘takes us into the data vaults of solar astronomy. After sifting through hundreds of thousands of computer files, made accessible via open access archives, Semiconductor have brought together some of the sun’s finest unseen moments. These images have been kept in their most raw form, revealing the energetic particles and solar wind as a rain of white noise.

This grainy black and white quality is routinely cleaned up by NASA, hiding the processes and mechanics in action behind the capturing procedure. Most of the imagery has been collected as single snapshots containing additional information, by satellites orbiting the Earth. They are then reorganised into their spectral groups to create time-lapse sequences. The soundtrack highlights the hidden forces at play upon the solar surface, by directly translating areas of intensity within the image brightness into layers of audio manipulation and radio frequencies.’ Read more here

Brillian Noise (2006)

Black Rain ‘is sourced from images collected by the twin satellite, solar mission, STEREO. Here we see the HI (Heliospheric Imager) visual data as it tracks interplanetary space for solar wind and CME’s (coronal mass ejections) heading towards Earth. Data courtesy of courtesy of the Heliospheric Imager on the NASA STEREO mission.

Working with STEREO scientists, Semiconductor collected all the HI image data to date, revealing the journey of the satellites from their initial orientation, to their current tracing of the Earth’s orbit around the Sun. Solar wind, CME’s, passing planets and comets orbiting the sun can be seen as background stars and the milky way pass by’. Read more here

Black Rain (2009)

‘For 200 Nanowebbers, Semiconductor have created a molecular web that is generated by Double Adaptor’s live soundtrack. Using custom-made scripting, the melodies and rhythms spawn a nano scale environment that shifts and contorts to the audio resonance. Layers of energetic hand drawn animations, play over the simplest of vector shapes that form atomic scale associations. As the landscape flickers into existence by the light of trapped electron particles, substructures begin to take shape and resemble crystalline substances.’ Read more here

2oo Nanowebbers (2005)

Do You Think Sience… ‘is a a Semiconductor Film shot at the NASA Space Sciences Laboratory, UC Berkeley, California. By asking a group of space physicists the unanswerable Semiconductor reveal the hidden motivations driving scientists to the outer limits of human knowledge. In an attempt to find meaning within the question, they open a Pandora’s Box of limitations within science itself, revealing their own philosophical confines. Issues of faith, medicine and the laws of matter are raised to illustrate the infinitely complex universe we live in.’ Read more here

Do You Think Science… (2006)

Out of the Light extract is ‘an extract of our floor projected HD video installation. It consists of five parts that can be seen as either a single screen or installed as separate projections around the space.’ Read here more

Out of the Light (2008)

Magnetic Movie is ‘about the secret lives of invisible magnetic fields are revealed as chaotic ever-changing geometries . All action takes place around NASA’s Space Sciences Laboratories, UC Berkeley, to recordings of space scientists describing their discoveries . Actual VLF audio recordings control the evolution of the fields as they delve into our inaudible surroundings, revealing recurrent ‘whistlers’ produced by fleeting electrons . Are we observing a series of scientific experiments, the universe in flux, or a documentary of a fictional world?’ Read here more

Magnetic Movie (2007)

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