Timeless Universe 2006 Valencia 17 May - 9 July

Sala Parpallo the leading art gallery of Valencia hosts the largest one man show to date of Paul Friedlander's work including the major new installation, Timeless Universe.


Diputacion de Valencia; Sala Parpallo; Iberdrola; British Council

Waves of Possibility

When I first encountered English physicist Julian Barbour's ideas, I was awed by the intellectual courage. This was conjecture on the grand scale normally encountered only in science fiction but carried out with mathematical rigour that only a very few top physicists could achieve. The scale of his ideas is truly breathtaking and often when reading his work one can forget just what is involved. One idea I fell in love with early on is what he calls 'the mists of Platonia'.

The installation Timeless Universe is concerned with cosmology. My breadth of interest ranges from ancient myths and legends to modern day work with mathematics and physics. My approach is through written records, varying from ancient scripts to signs, codes and mathematical formula. I take these images that are so full of mystery and transform and fragment them using computer codes I have written. The result is an endless kinetic stream of images which never exactly repeats itself and refreshes itself on a daily basis so that each day it starts again to weave a new variant on the themes I have programmed into it.
The mists are the only signs of the presence of an otherwise unseen waveform, but a waveform so vast and intricate that it spans across all possible conceivable states of the universe and governs in every detail our fates. Trying to visualize this waveform, I imagine something like the most beautiful finely feathered fern, its leaves impossibly intricate with varied size and growth pattern as we move our microscope over its endless reaches.
These works are a first move towards realising that vision but the forms are infinitely simpler, like one glimpse through the microscope, and in a way quite different from the mists of Platonia that are perfectly still, where as my sculptures are kinetic. I consider the installation timeless universe not to be a representation of Barbour's ideas but rather a meditation inspired from them.

Central to Barbour's thinking is a mathematical idea he calls Platonia. Let me give you an analogy:

'Hold your thumb and first finger about a cm apart and imagine a perfectly thin line running between them. Next imagine holding a cm square of imaginary material with no thickness between your thumb and finger. This square is infinitely greater than the line. Now imagine holding a little cube of ordinary matter. It is infinitely greater again. Repeat the process using your mathematical imagination adding a 4th dimension. This is not the limit; we can go on adding dimensions for ever. Imagine holding an infinitely dimensional cube in the palm of your hand that is a new form of data storage. There is enough memory to store a complete description of the universe in such perfect detail that it records the position of every atom and particle that exists. You have used 0% or your memory store so far, you may store an infinite array of possible states of the universe. Now imagine using a super electron microscope to look inside the data store, you are looking at something that looks like a light sculpture, but can you imagine it?'

For this installation, I am creating a piece that will change with time. As well as being kinetic, the piece will vary from day to day. Data gathered from the internet are re-arranged by computer programs each morning to weave into new patterns of changing imagery. I feel that I have been true to Barbour's ideas since, for his mission to succeed, he has to show how all our sense of change and time passing, the past and future being so different and the present moment special and unique arise from an underlying timeless reality.

I first included mathematical formula in my work in 2002, at that time in honour of my father, F G Friedlander, who had died the previous year. He was a noted mathematician and fellow of the Royal Society. I have continued to work with his formulas as they are appropriate to my subject. They are wave equations on a curved space-time.
Intermixed with the mathematical equations are ancient and modern texts. I chose them for the visual qualities of their scripts and their sense of mystery. Some of the most ancient languages are written with characters that have an almost uncannily geometrical quality.
Timeless Universe is composed of 15 different kinetic pieces arranged in groups around a space that is illuminated entirely by video projectors that are showing images from 3 different computers that are all generating real-time animation that modify, modulate and transform my chosen subject matter.