The Neuro-Temporal Displacement Research Project
by Brian Bullard for Somewhere in Time (2015)
I began my venture by disassembling the box for the kit, peeling the layers of cardboard apart to give myself more surface material. One layer I 'd used for the walls in the background, and the other I cut down into sections and strips to construct the books and bookshelf. The wall was painted purple with several layers of watered down acrylic paint, and then the door was measured out and painted on. I measured the frame with a triangle and free-handed the caution stripes. The door was painted on in acrylic. The door knob and dead bolt were later cut from the wooden dowel and a piece of craft stick and carved with an X-acto blade, sanded, painted in acrylic and glued on.
All of the fun little posters were cut from the shrink film instructions (reverse blank side) and hand-painted or drawn out with Micron pen and taped to the walls (as posters often are). The poster above the door is a recreation of the Hubble Space Telescope (hand painted in acrylic here) image taken by NASA of a super-nova remnant caused by a stellar explosion over a thousand years ago. The Periodic Table of the Elements is self-explanatory (acrylic paint and Micron pen). The Post-Its on the wall and dry-erase board were cut from the plain piece of paper that I painted in yellow watered-down acrylic. After cutting them out I wrote out various formulas and notes from past research various scientists have done on time travel experiments and particle physics research, all written in Micron pen. The "Non ionising Radiation" sign was done in acrylic and Micron pen (I chose it because it was humorous and, lo and behold, lasers are present, and apparently it was copied from a British website, as the spelling would denote!).
For the bookshelf, the book covers were cut out individually, folded and superglued together one at a time. The "pages" were cut after and glued into the upper spaces, leaving about a sixteenth of an inch in most cases to look distinguished. The books were left unglued from the shelves so they could be removed as needed and meticulously painted/adjusted. Most of the books are replications of actual science text books, but a couple were made up to account for size versus subject, and a couple more were put in as "Easter eggs" for anyone with an appreciation for literature in cinema and elsewhere ;) The folders were cut out from the plain paper, with notes cut out and placed inside with writing in Micron pen.
The Rubik's cube was cut from the basswood and carved with a Drimmel tool/X-acto blade and painted in acrylic.
Fun Fact: The Rubik's Cube was invented by Hungarian sculptor and professor of architecture, Ernő Rubik, in 1974.
The Phrenology bust was sculpted from regular clay and painted white with ultramarine trim, and I tried to draw on the division lines but ultimately ended up pressing them in with a straight razor (X-acto blades aren't fine enough on the edge, especially after you've been carving wood with them lol).
Fun Fact: Phrenology is actually an outdated pseudoscience that associated intelligence with the size of one's skull. These busts are mostly used now as historical paper weights, and my use of it here is intended as a snarky commentary, seeing as that our shining star is a brilliant young female scientist, whom back then would have been considered less reliable than any male contemporary she may have had, which is obviously bunkum.
The beaker and test tubes WERE going to be used as table-props, but became cast-aside props as the piece evolved and I decided I wanted to steer clear from the typically represented school-science-project-look and go into more ambitious territory. My primary motivation for this wasn't just sticking to subject matter, but also because brilliant young scientists these days are doing incredible projects in ground-breaking ways as early as their Elementary and Middle School years! These kids do impressive work and I don't want to mock their achievements with mediocre mock-ups. Anyhow, the stand was made from aluminum wire and the beaker from the cut plastic sheet that I rolled around a paint brush, overlaid and glued together with CA glue (holding it in place with tape temporarily). I filled it with red paint and water for effect. The test tubes were made in a similar method with the plastic and put in a tray made from craft sticks and hardwood bored with a Drimmel tool, then glued together and painted.
The cage of the lab rat is made of craft sticks that were cut, glued together and painted in acrylic, as well as varnished burlap painted with acrylic and super glued together. The rat is made from the black clay painted with acrylic. She was hand-sculpted and carved with a pointed needle tool. Her name is Tulip, which coincidentally is one of my favorite flowers :)
Fun Fact: The Tulip originated in Persia near the end of the Persian Empire around the 10th Century.
The broom leaning against the book shelf (which I actually used to sweep up around the place) had its handle carved with an X-acto blade and sanded, painted in acrylic, then glued into another rectangular-cut piece made of the hardwood. The bristles are strips of burlap glued into place and trimmed even with scissors. Quite handy to have a broom around the lab!
I think I actually constructed "Galilea" first, our little scientist. Technically, she's what you'd call a theoretical physicist, due to the nature of her research. I sculpted the white clay with a needle tool and X-acto blade to make her head and upper torso, and the green clay for her hair and UV protective goggles (the lenses were cut from the plastic sheet and the band from the sheet of paper). Her hair was made in one big piece in the back with linear aspects pressed in, then small stray bits were added in for effect. The bangs were made from a flat piece cut like a 2-d octopus and then tidied up. Then I painted al of it with cadmium red, orange, yellow and white acrylic paint. Later, I used the large basswood block to make a wooden support structure for her body to go under her lab coat. The coat was made from the small sack containing miscellaneous items. The sack stitchings were undone, the draw-string removed, and the fabric bleached to make it whiter for authenticity. Then I cut a lab coat pattern from the fabric (or as much as I could given the limited amount of fabric), and glued the pieces together. The buttons of the lab coat were cut from the foam sheet and some of the string was wound through them for effect. Her pocket items (pen and pencil, but I believe the pen is on the desk now) were carved from craft sticks (the pen cap is removable by the way). Her hands were made from the blue clay and stuck on the ends of the aluminum wire that I wrapped around the basswood block for arm structures and some hint of body mass (the sleeves were stuffed with cotton balls for mass).
The red and blue stop watches were carved from the basswood as well. Their cords were made from the drawstring from the sack, which was painted black and clamped on the ends with small bits of cut aluminum wire for authenticity.
Soho painting board was stuck on two of the wooden sticks cut in half to make a table. Bridges of the table legs were added from cut craft sticks using CA glue.
The white board was constructed using the small canvas and craft sticks, the small wooden dowel and a nicer wooden stick superglued together. A cut piece of craft stick was painted with silver Testors paint and superglued to the front base of the canvas. The writing on it is actually formula pertinent to time travel theory, extracting information from statistical data sets and related subject matter written in Micron marker and pen. The dry eraser was made by cutting out a piece of foam from the larger provided, and gluing it to small cut piece of the canvas board that I had painted red.
The chalk board was made with a cut out piece of paper for the frame (along with a piece of the finer wood for the ledge), and the black board was cut from the foam sheet and painted black. White acrylic was used for the writing and the chalk was carved from the craft sticks. The nail was carved from a piece of hardwood and glued in place.
The interesting ensemble on the table consists of two liquid helium and one liquid nitrogen tank, hooked up to cool a cryogenic chamber with a super conducting magnet in the bottom that is connected to a field-focusing array. The chamber is also equipped with a monitoring device operated through a laptop computer performing data-monitoring on the lab rat inside (who we will lovingly call Algernon). Algernon has, for all intensive purposes but to no permanent ill-effect, had an electrode implanted into his brain that is connected to a microchip set-up strapped to his back, which also runs into the computer data-monitoring system (blue painted laptop glued together from canvas board with slick orange "LAB-TEC" brand that I came up with). The small tanks were carved from soft clay and painted freehand. The feed pipelines are carved from craft sticks and nicer wood pieces with torch-heated Premo! joints, and were painted with chrome enamel Testors paint and acrylic. The helium tanks are strapped into a cradle carved from the basswood, superglued together and held in place with straps cut from the plastic sheet. A similar method was used with the nitrogen tank, which ultimately feeds into the top of the cryogenic chamber's lid with a piece of the aluminum wire (I think I'd just about run out of provided string and rope at this point!). The lid of the chamber is made of silver painted and lightly torched Premo! clay and a hollowed-out wooden dowel fixture. The wires are made from the undone drawstring sack rope which was run through holes drilled into the top. Wires were also made from painted burlap. The chamber itself is from cut and rolled plastic sheet glued together and covered in CA glue to resemble the freezing conditions caused by liquid nitrogen. Foam sheet was cut to line the outside of the upper rim of the chamber. The base of the chamber is Primo! clay painted with silver enamel Testor paint. The super magnet resting in the bottom of the chamber was carved from the wooden ring, painted black, and then repeatedly wrapped with the thread bobbin and drawstring which were painted copper to resemble copper wiring (which normally is wrapped around magnets to produce magnetic fields when hooked up to a power-supply). It was then set in a wood frame carved from round slices cut from the wooden dowel, and attached to a larger circle cut from the painting board. Glued on top of this is a concave circle cut from the cardboard mirror, with bits of carved craft stick glued to the wooden beehive on top of it. "Algernon" was also made from soft blue clay and painted with acrylic. A piece of fabric cut from the cloth bag scraps I had lingering around was glued around him with layered basswood glued on that was carved with a Drimmel to resemble the microchip set-up, which hangs from the unwound drawstring run through the lid. The laptop is cut from painting board and painted in acrylic with Micron pen keys drawn on. Small bits of craft stick serve as the adapter plug and flash-drive. The small notebook was made by folding a piece of the normal paper like accordion, gluing one side together and cutting the edges to separate the pages. The front and back covers were painted with black paint and the exposed pages with white. The writing was done with Micron pen.
The flammables cabinet was made out of the smaller basswood block. It was cut in half, glued together, sanded and then painted in several layers of acrylic, with the door carved into the front. The handle was carved from the nice hardwood and painted with silver Testors paint. A small piece of craft stick was cut, painted red and glued into the lower side for the aeration hole.
The cat on top of the flammables cabinet that's taken a keen interest in Tulip is named Palpatine. Palpatine was sculpted out of the brown clay and painted in a few layers of acrylic. His whiskers were cut with a straight from the foam sheet (again, because X-acto blades aren't sharp enough).
Fun Fact: Palpatine is a Canadian Sphinx, a hairless breed of cat that stems from a mutation that actually originated in Roncesvalles, Toronto in 1966, despite its Egyptian sounding namesake. He's a loving dedication to a wonderful cat a friend of mine was once the proud owner of, before his sad passing around a year ago. Despite being mutations, Sphinxes are actually an incredibly intelligent and loving breed of cat, and maintain a constant body temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit, which is funny because they look like they're always cold ;)
The effect of the green laser light is done with a laser. The rest of the lighting is normal white LED table lighting, which nicely replicates the banal ceiling lights found in most laboratory and classroom settings.
Fun Fact:The laser used here can cover a distance of 10 miles, and fortunately is not capable of burning through paper or plastic.
The inspiration for this piece comes from a future time-travel event only a couple of decades from now. Physical matter is constrained from the possibility of time travel due to limitations of size and the effects of friction on matter under various physical constraints. It seems that on the scale of the quantum (and more recently, slightly larger scales), physical matter can travel through time with little effort. Of course, larger matter can be displaced through time if located at the event horizons of black holes and theoretical worm-holes, but these are presently quite out of human reach (and due to the linear nature of the effects of time experienced here, would be useless for travelling into the past).
In this future experiment, travel through time in either direction is made possible through a modulated quantum field, applied in tandem with a direct cerebral-interface. Our dear furry friend, Algernon the rat, has for the time being been connected to this interface, and through the temporary cryogenic freezing of his own physical matter (which can easily be recovered from a couple of decades into the future from now), the molecular structure and the very energy of his brain can be safely transported through time, independant of his body, because when frozen, they slow from an excited state to a state closer to nearly complete rest, where their super-positions are more predictable and easily manipulated. The positions and entanglement of these particles can then be monitored with a supercomputer, based on data extrapolated indirecty through the unified spin positions of all involved particles taken through the applied field. As a result, Algernon's mind is transported "Somewhere in time," and through the young scientist Galilea's neuro-temporal dilation device, we are able to determine, either visually or through correllated data, when and where in time this is. Perhaps it is this very idea of projecting one's mind through time that led to the creation of this unique scene. The pre-determined result of this time travel, as written on the blackboard, is that stem cells in Algernon's brain will show an increased survival rate of their Msh2 alleles, with based experience enhanced oxidization. These are symptoms that would be expressed through increased radiation exposure. This radiation is an atmospheric effect that would be experienced in the Archeon Eon sometime after the formation of the Earth right around the time life began. Another sign would be any possible residual impacts of biological organisms present at the time, if possible.
Fun Fact: The Archeon Era was about 2.5 BILLION years ago, right after the Hadean Era and before the Proterozoic Era. Around this time, the Earth had three times the heat flow that it does today due to the lingering radioactive elements from the Earth's still relatively recent formation. Also, the only organisms that are thought to have existed at this time are stromatolites (which were largely responsible for producing free oxygen in the atmosphere), along with a few bacteria and non-nucleated single-celled organisms called Prokaryota.
Yes! Scientific pursuits have fallen into a bit of a slump lately here in the United States, but art has always been a vital part of human expression since we first looked at rocks and imagined... Something else! Whereas science has been like the wet-stone that eventually has allowed us to sharpen our artistic endeavors and personal pursuits, and the creative mind has fueled leaps and bounds in science through novel thinking and connection making. I really wanted to make a project that spoke to this concept of art and science working together to propel us into the future (or in this case, the past!) with an emphasis in encouraging our youth to appreciate and want to get involved in artistic and scientific endeavors alike, particularly young women, since they have been vastly under-represented and discouraged in the past from pursuing scientific endeavors, despite being perfectly adept at such pursuits!