UNLOC research-inspired art displayed at UCL Exhibition

10 December, 2015

The pursuit of science demands human creativity, imagination and ingenuity which lie in the core of any art creation. To remind us all that there is much art in science and science in art, the UCL Doctoral School runs an annual exhibition under the moto "Research Images as Art/Art as Research Images". This year, the submission by UNLOC PhD student Gabriele Liga was selected among hundreds of entries to be displayed at the exhibition hosted in the UCL South Cloisters.

While running a Matlab simulation of modulated signals travelling hundreds of kilometers over fibre optic cables, Gabriele produced standard plots called constellation diagrams. Representing signals on a 2D plane, the diagrams displayed important scientific predictions that can help quantify signal distortion in optical fibres. But they also evoked an avalanche of thoughts about the current digital revolution and how it shapes modern human relationships. Gabriele confined these thoughts in a short description and submitted it along with one of the constellation diagram images to the cross-disciplinary competition/exhibition 2015/2016 Research Images as Art/Art as Research Images" organized by the UCL Doctoral School. A panel of judges reviewed the several hundred entries and selected 100, among which was Gabriele's image, to be displayed at the exhibition which is running between 2-11 December in the UCL South Cloisters.

The atricle photo shows Gabriele's image at the exhibition. The plaque next to the print shows the image description, reproduced below

HighLIGHT the Information Revolution

99% of every selfie, tweet, “I love you” message, daily email, online application for your dream job, purchase of your favourite gadget, or filing of your taxes gets encode and carried by light across an invisible network of fibres connecting cities, countries and continents. Our recently gained power to manipulate light is transforming fundamentally our culture making each one of us a participant in the information revolution. Light ultimately connects your ideas and mine, allowing them to dance and mate, creating an explosion of collective intelligence and universal human consciousness. This image is a simulation of a message encoded and transmitted over a fibre link, each blob representing a bit of information waiting to be decoded and ultimately collected by its intended recipient. A simulation is often an idealized representation of reality. How will the information revolution change our common reality?

The UNLOC image didn't enter the winners' list this year, but the research conducted within the project is a source of continuous scientific and artistic inspiration for our team. You can view the winners of this year's competition here.