Evelina Domnitch | Dmitry Gelfand


All artworks, videos and photographs copyright E. Domnitch and D. Gelfand for the online version: streaming only

Evelina Domnitch (b. 1972, Minsk, Belarus) and Dmitry Gelfand (b.1974, St. Petersburg, Russia) create sensory immersion environments that merge physics, chemistry and computer science with uncanny philosophical practices. Having dismissed the use of recording and fixative media, their artworks exist as ever-transforming phenomena offered for observation. The duo’s practice has emerged through unorthodox collaborations with pioneering research groups, including LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory), RySQ (Rydberg Quantum Simulator) and the EU Quantum Flagship. They are recipients of the Witteveen+Bos Award (2019), Meru Art*Science Award (2018), Japan Media Arts Excellence Prize (2007), and five Ars Electronica Honorary Mentions (2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2017).

Sonant Flares (work in progress 2020-21)

Since 2003, we have created several artworks that render acoustic dynamics visible in three dimensions; within liquids (Camera Lucida and Mucilaginous Omniverse) and in air (Sonolevitation and Force Field). We are now developing an installation that will significantly enlarge the observability of airborne acoustic behavior. In these preliminary experiments, a 22 kHz transducer generates a high-intensity standing wave that sonicates water vapor ascending from dry ice. Trapped in the pressure nodes of the sound field, the vapor is transformed into quivering filaments that outline a floating vortex lattice. Sonically induced vorticity occurs when matter vigorously flows between alternating areas of high, low and nearly absent acoustic pressure. Ubiquitous features across the entire range of physical phenomena, vortices coequally arise on microscopic, planetary and galactic scales. When combined, vortices form pairs and subsequently, complex knotted topologies. The pursuit of these intricate nodal structures is known as the 3D Chladni problem – an extension of both the stable and chaotic Chladni patterns of sand on a vibrating 2-dimensional plate.

Camera Lucida: Sonochemical Observatory 2003

In a transparent chamber filled with 60 liters of water, sound waves are transformed into light emissions through a phenomenon known as sonoluminescence. After vanishing in the impenetrable darkness surrounding the installation, one gradually perceives an undulating cosmos of glowing sound fields.
Deep within the water float micro-bubbles of air, far too small to see with the naked eye. The bubbles become visible when high frequency acoustic vibrations incite their cyclical collapse to the size of 100 nm, at which point they reach temperatures as high as those found on the Sun and emit picosecond flashes of light. Despite the brevity of the emissions, they are perceived quasi-continuously as they recur in phase with tens of thousands of sound cycles per second.
Though it has been established that the source of light arises inside of imploding bubbles, there has yet to be a conclusive model accounting for the nearly trillionfold energy amplification underlying sonoluminescence. Since the 1980’s numerous theories have been proposed, including plasma-core ionization, the dynamical Casimir effect, quantum optical heating and even nuclear fusion.

Sonolevitation 2007

A 15 kHz standing sound wave is generated between a transducer and a reflective surface, dividing the air into an even number of acoustic pressure fields. Hovering on these sonic fronts, leaves of gold vibrate and spin at varying speeds. Depending on the amplitude of the standing wave and on the shape of the leaves, the rotational dynamics reaches a state of nearly frictionless motion. An experience of a weightlessness is coupled with an extended opto-aural awareness of space-time itself: the slivers of gold modulate the standing wave that levitates them, consequently influencing one another’s motion – each part is an inseparable, co-emergent reflection of the whole.

Mucilaginous Omniverse 2009

Arising from underneath a bath of silicone oil, low frequency sound waves mobilize a pillow of air just above the liquid’s surface, preventing falling oil droplets from coalescing with the bath. As these palpitating spheroids bounce on the air-oil interface their repeated impact incites capillary waves that interlock with the waves of neighboring droplets. This close-range attractive force can result in the orbital motion of droplet pairs and clusters. During more stable modes of excitation, self-organizing geometric rafts emerge in accordance with the closest packing of spheres: the distance between droplets decreases with increasing acoustic frequency, leading to dense lattice formation.
It was discovered in the early 2000s that these bouncing droplets offer macroscopic analogues of quantum behavior, such as quantized orbital motion, quantum tunneling, and wave-particle duality. As described by Yves Couder, “the droplet moves due to its interaction with the distorted interface, this means that it is guided by a pilot wave that contains a path memory. Through this wave-mediated memory, the past as well as the environment determines the [droplet’s] present motion.” [A. Eddi, E. Sultan, J. Moukhtar, E. Fort, M. Rossi, Y. Couder, Information stored in Faraday waves: the origin of path memory, Journal of Fluid Mechanics, Vol. 674, pp. 1 -31, Cambridge University Press, January 2011]

Memory Vapor 2011

Every second Earth’s inhabitants are bombarded by billions of charge carriers, arriving from every possible direction in outer space. As they traverse supersaturated vapor, these subatomic messengers, known as cosmic rays, macroscopically disclose their identity and the plenum underlying the empirical void.
In Memory Vapor, a cloud chamber, combined with a particle accelerator, is illuminated by a scanning laser sheet. Above a basin of sublimating liquid nitrogen, cascades of prismatic particle trails surge through a frigid cloud of ethanol vapor. Ionized nuclei, muons, electrons and positrons are traced by evanescent threads of condensation droplets.