Saturday, August 17, 2013


forwarded from linked in

Liliane Lijn<>

I would like to contribute a few thoughts and recollections to this

In September 2011, I was approached by John-Paul Latham, scientist son of
the artist John Latham. He had seen my work, Liquid Reflections, at the
Tate exhibition Art in the '60's, and was interested to use it for some
scientific experiments. I reproduce here a section of his email to me

'So now, the scientific interest.... There is a whole community of
researchers that use what we call discrete element computer models. The
behaviour of systems with literally thousands of particles are often
represented by thousands of spheres (even complex shapes are also being
introduced now ). These systems are everywhere: eg soils and earthquake
liquefaction, or rock fragments avalanching or jamming in a hopper, or even
grains and vegetables packed into containers. They can all be understood
better using these computer simulations that show the level of detail at
the scale of the particle itself rather than computer simulations that
treat the particulates as an en masse hybrid solid-fluid.

What caught my eye with your work was the amazing life dance that the two
different sized balls played out together, but the moves of the dance -
motion in time and space - is governed by certain factors that Newton could
have accounted for very precisely. I think I remembered your work
incorrectly because your rotating plate looks quite flat whereas I thought
it was dish shaped. It seems there is a slight curvature making it a dish
when watching the end of the video on force fields (actually, John did some
paintings also called force field, in the 60s).

It occurred to me that the speed of rotation, size of the balls and the
friction they have with the base plate/dish (and if it is curved - then the
curvature), all play a major part in setting the possibilities for the ball
motions. So, it would be very interesting to hear about your experiences
although I appreciate that your focus and vision may have been rather
different. I'd quite like to work out, i.e. simulate with the computer
models - what we would expect to happen and compare it with Newton's
analytic solution and of course see what happens on the art work itself -
maybe try out some experiments.'

John came over with his Post-doc student and having observed Liquid
Reflections, they went on to make a computer model of the movement of the
balls. I have the paper they eventually produced on their research. I have
also emailed John-Paul to ask if he might wish to add anything to
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