Subatomic Music and Photographs

Adam Nadel’s photographs have often captured the missed by looking closely whether it was the poignant portraits from the Bosnian War, or illustrating the impact of malaria or the New York Times pulitzer prize nominated collection ‘The Face of Sacrifice’ depicting the Iraq war. More recently, he documented politics of water in the everglades.

As the 2018 Artist-in-residence at Fermilab, Nadel has ventured into working with data to look even closer. It is an attempt to capture the people that power the lab as well as ‘subatomic world they are directly or indirectly engaged’ with and, to make accessible the ‘world of particle physics by artistically documenting the lab’s personnel, scientific architecture, and the creative practices’.

Image from symmetry magazine’s piece captioned “Several of the pieces in Nadel’s exhibit were created using a stream of electrons that collided with sensitive photographic paper. Courtesy of Adam Nadel”

Symmetry magazine documented the work’s process that Nadel said showcases “people connecting and networking, and their relationship to that place.” 

“What became real to me,” Nadel says, “is both how small the things that are being investigated are—in terms of weight, size, charge, etc.—and the incredibly short duration of time they are being measured for. And it became immediately obvious there was just no way I was going to be able to artistically wrestle with those things with a still camera.”

Image from Fermilab’s public events captioned “Adam Nadel and his exhibit in the Fermilab Art Gallery in 2019.”
Image from Symmetry magazine’s piece captioned “Nadel used photographic negatives from bubble chambers as source material for some of his pieces. Courtesy of Adam Nadel”

Nadel’s use of data in his artistic process is particularly interesting. He used data from a Fermilab experiment called ‘MicroBooNE’ that recorded neutrino interactions and transcribed it at 3-microsecond intervals to create a sound ‘visualization’, a 265 note musical score.

The score can be listened to here.

Image from Fermilab “This is the data Adam Nadel plotted onto a musical score to create his piece.”

“It’s a conceptual approach, that allows any composer to create a musical score from any MicroBooNE data set,” Nadel says.

Author: Surabhi Naik

Surabhi Naik is a designer and writer dedicated to Immersive Narratives & Experience Design based in New York City. A graduate student at The New School’s Media Studies Program, she is currently deep-diving into Immersive Storytelling Design & Research and is the Editor for Data Matters Publication at the Center for Data Arts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *