in DRIFT: Art and Dark Matter

exhibition at The Belkin Art Gallery
University of British Columbia, Vancouver, 2021.

'n-Land: the holographic (principle)' analyses and situates physics methods, assemblages, sites, and practices in environmental, eco-social, and historical contexts. The new project of Thoms, which can also be experienced in an online exhibition, includes a new 17 minute audio/video composition, a series of new sculpture, and digital & archival prints.

Thoms borrows the imagery, materials, and strategies of physics, composing them in an assemblage to probe the (eco)logical ethics of our time. For example, borrowing a strategy from theoretical physicists, he manipulates dimensions throughout his installation to reveal overlooked relationships that make the production of new cosmological knowledge possible. This is made explicit in his metal "polytope" sculptures titled 'The Bulk: Frameworks' which Thoms considers as ‘shadows’ of a 7 dimensional artefact. The provocative flattening and layering of complex dimensional objects continues in his 'Isomorphis' prints, in which he layers flattened 3D scans of SNOLAB experiments to expose gaps and hidden strata within scientific classification methodologies.

Thoms’s installation suggests a multi-dimensional view of the SNOLAB site which he refers to as ‘holographic,’ reading context and agency through vast cosmic and geological time scales. The piece reflects on intra-connected components of landscape-laboratory: the comet that hit the location 1.85 billion years ago, and the resulting emergence of copper and nickel deposits within its rock; how the land is both a major mining site and the object of debated government treaties with local Anishanaabe people; and how kilometres of rock technologically isolates SNOLAB from the thick interference of surface radiation so that experiments can search for rare cosmic particles.

Drift: Art and Dark Matter is an artist residency and touring exhibition project developed with the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, the Arthur B. McDonald Canadian Astroparticle Physics Research Institute, and the 2015 Nobel prize winning SNOLAB. For this project Thoms along with artists Nadia Lichtig, Josèfa Ntjam, and Anne Riley were invited to make new work while engaging with scientists, theorists and engineers contributing to the search for dark matter at the McDonald Institute and at SNOLAB’s underground facility in Sudbury, located two kilometers below the Earth’s surface.

© All images are copyright Jol Thoms. Texts copyright Jol Thoms and the respective authors.