Quasar 3 [danger du zero]
Jean Michel Crettaz and Mark-David Hosale

Appearing in Art Souterrain 2013, Montréal. Canada
March 2nd – 17th, Zone 5: Centre de commerce mondial de Montréal

Quasar 3 [danger du zero] is an immersive interactive light and sound installation. Quasar 3 is the latest project iteration of a series of installation projects known as Quasar, which explores the world that exists beyond our senses by converging light and sound events in a tangible structural and experiential dimension. It is also the second work that was developed in collaboration with WIPAC, the first being Quasar 2.0: Star Incubator, which was presented in Toronto, Ontario at the Nuit Blanche festival on September 29th, 2012. The name of the Quasar series is derived from a more or less mysterious astronomical occurrence, called quasars, and are understood as extremely ancient and highly luminous events that occur in the furthest known reaches in our known Universe. The significance of quasars to the work is that they represent the edge of what can be seen and known, they are a demarcation of our epistemological horizon.

Installed in the Centre de commerce mondial de Montréal, Quasar 3 measures around five Square meters. The main body of Quasar 3 is designed as an immersive landscape that forms a visually striking array of crystalline elements and fibre optic strands, which are supported by an intricate metallic substructure inspired by quantum loops. The body is embedded with scores of microcontrollers that control hundreds of LED’s that light up the fibre optic strands. A multi-channel sound system integrated in the body gives a voice to the installation’s virtual life processes.

Quasar 3 connects gallery visitors with real world processes (both natural and human-made) occurring beyond their senses due to their scale in terms of time, size and distance. The data fields feeding into the work form strata of information that is dispersed spatially and temporally, but they are interconnected, not only in the influence they have on each other, but also in the process of their unfolding, which has a topological similarity. The flattening of these strata forms an environment that becomes the habitat of the installation’s virtual life form. An expressive life form perceives a world beyond our senses, and then expresses the affect of these stimuli in the realm of our sensation through patterns of light and sound. In this way Quasar 3 connects the audience with systems of the Universe unfolding beyond our senses, collapsing scale and time into the immediacies of experience.

The data fields are collected from a variety of sources that range spatially from very distant celestial to intimately local, and temporally in scope from years of data collection to the instantaneous event.

Cosmic ray data is collected via the ICECUBE particle detector located at the South Pole, which is one square kilometer in area, and 2.4 kilometers deep in the ice. The coded data-fields collected from the IceCube Neutrino Observatory consist of intangible and abstract events produced from neutrino interactions. High energy neutrinos are ghostly, nearly invisible messenger particles produced when cosmic rays hit the Earth's atmosphere, and also are produced throughout the Universe in extreme environments and during violent, cataclysmic explosions such as those produced by supernovae, and quasars, among others. It is estimated that about 10,000 cosmic rays reach every square meter of the earth's surface every minute. IceCube data is collected in the month preceding the exhibition.

Antarctic Weather data is collected from a network of automatic weather stations deployed by the Antarctic Meteorological Research Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison Space Science and Engineering Center that provide meteorological data and observations as a time-based data stream extending over the year prior to the exhibition.

This project was made possible through collaboration with the Automatic Weather Station program of the Antarctic Meteorological Research Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison Space Science and Engineering Center (NSF grant number ANT-0838834); and the Wisconsin IceCube Particle Astrophysics Center (WIPAC), University of Wisconsin-Madison, Graduate School.

Sponsered in part by Art Souterrain
Special Thanks to:
Melissa D'Amore, Bérénice Giasson, and Annick Rocheleau

Nuit Blanche Production Team:
Nicole Clouston, Lisa Hosale, and Alexander Moakler

Fabrication Assistant: Nicole Clouston

Q-Cast data streamer: Alexander Moakler