Two star machines which look like pieces of thin square boards set on top of metal tripods, with white grain patterns on top, set in the 101 outdoor arts creation space.


HERTZ Juliet Robson

May to September 2018

Nominated by Pervasive Media Studio, Bristol Watershed.

Juliet Robson's 'hertz' is an art-science collaboration with academics from the fields of astrophysics, meteorology and mathematics. It gives a glimpse into this hidden universe, making inaudible sound tangible, visible and real.

Juliet had received initial support from Unlimited to develop this project, and also gained support for touring. However, she needed help to develop the machines and turned to 101 for this.

She collaborated with 101’s in-house Head of Creative Design, Martin West, in the creation of large-scale Chladni plates and the adaptation of furniture, including one of Juliet’s old wheelchairs, to ‘play’ the infrasound - sound waves with frequencies below the lower limit of human audibility. This allowed people to hear and experience the sound of stars, the hidden sounds of weather systems and the inaudible sounds of the world around us.

"Chladni’s Plates" were an early way of visualising the patterns of vibrations on mechanical surfaces, developed by German physicist and musician Ernst Chladni in the late eighteenth century. Juliet worked with Martin to explore how her work could be made viable for showing in outdoor environments, different weathers and times of day.

The residency was planned over a number of individual days over a period of several months which suited Juliet’s access requirements and worked well for her as she lives within an hour’s drive of 101.

Juliet hugely appreciated the creative technical support from 101, which resulted in two beautiful star machines based on Chladni plates and the adapted furniture. She also found being at 101 really helpful for making great contacts – including a presenter on BBC Radio 3’s Late Junction which has since featured her work, and Oxford Contemporary Music, who have become a commissioning partner.

hertz has been presented in Birmingham, Reading and Oxford and has had an extended run in Bristol.

A group of women gather around a star machine, looking at the pattern on the beige wooden board at 101 Outdoor Arts.
A metal chair and metal sofa with a music speaker set in a large warehouse at 101 Outdoor Arts
A magnifying glass held above a star machine, magnifying the white patterns on the wooden background.
All images by Adam Hillier Photography