According to the curators: “Particle physics and illustration are about to collide in the culmination of the Jiggling Atoms project,” which is quite a big ask when you consider the disparity between those two disciplines; one a rigorous scientific practice concerned with understanding and manipulating the invisible, the other a visual discipline based on narratives and communicating ideas. But the Jiggling Atoms team have been careful in their selection of artists and made a sterling job of curating a truly coherent show.
The Jiggling Atoms concept is a simple one; how can physics be made accessible to everyone? And the answer, it seems, is by making bright, colourful, engaging (at times mind-blowingly complex) illustrations that convey a theory with visual clarity – and throw in a handful of exciting workshops for good measure.
As a scientific philistine myself I was mighty impressed by the quality of work on display walking round The Rag Factory. Those elementary concepts that I struggled to grasp as a child – the emptiness of an atom, the difference between particles and waves, how we can even be certain that the earth orbits the sun? – are all laid out and explained as plain as day. And while I can’t say I’ve been converted to a scientific lifestyle (some things are just best left to the imagination) it’s wonderful to see illustration being used in such an educational and accessible context instead of for the wilfull introspection with which it’s been recently associated. Nice work Jiggling Atoms!
Jiggling Atoms can be seen at The Rag Factory on Heneage Street until October 7.