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Radical Pair

By  Susan Eyre 2023

Two channel video installation. Video 1 degrees of variation imagines what it might be like to have the extra sensory powers of a bird where a protein in the eye is excited by polarised light, making it possible to ‘see’ Earth’s magnetic field and follow a visual navigatory clue in an accelerated world. Bird’s compass ability comes from a quantum effect in radical pairs of electrons with opposite spins, formed photochemically in the eyes. The video imagines flight over water and through woods while being guided by the magnetic field. Birds are also able to detect rapid movement and fly through dense forests at high speeds while avoiding branches and other obstacles. Video 2 internal skies : external spheres makes reference to the geological structure of the Earth to explore the relationship between Earth’s magnetic field and various methods of navigation including magnetoreception and celestial observation. Birds can detect the slow arc of the sun and the rotation of the constellations across the sky which are imperceptible to humans. The geological interior of our planet generates a field that reaches far into outer space offering a protective shield. Sequences in this video include star trails around Polaris (the current north star), birds and bees that use the magnetic field for navigation, magnetotactic bacteria, magnetised iron filings, aerial views of the coastline around Hartland Magnetic Observatory  and early morning polarised light. 

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