Starts: Monday 21 January 2013 9:00 am
Ends: Friday 15 March 2013 5:00 pm

Suspense by Jayne Wilton

Jayne Wilton

Beldam Gallery Monday 21 January – Friday 15 March 2013

Jayne Wilton's work investigates the breath as a fundamental unit of exchange between people and their environments. Particle physicist Professor Peter Hobson from the School of Engineering and Design at Brunel University approached Wilton in 2010 to suggest a collaboration with the school to explore new technological outcomes for her practice. A successful bid to The Leverhulme Trust funded a residency at Brunel University in 2012.

The work produced during Wilton's residency is the result of a series of collaborative projects at Brunel University and incorporates a host of innovative scientific techniques such as Schlieren imaging, rapid prototype printing and digital holography. The results of these collaborations allow the viewer to re-experience the often over-looked breath in visual and tangible forms. Universal breathing gestures such as the sigh, the laugh and the gasp have been translated into an intriguing and surprising series of images and objects.

Curated by George Mogg.

View Suspense 360 tour

Download the free iBook of Suspense to your iPad:


Suspense by Jayne Wilton

Jayne Wilton
Breath etched copper plates, 12.5 x 10 cm, 2012.

Most of us will have experienced playing with the interaction of our breath on shiny surfaces such as windows and mirrors, allowing us temporary fields of condensation in which to doodle thoughts or messages. In emergency situations a mirror or shiny surface is held in front of the mouth of a subject to confirm whether or not they are breathing. The Breathe series makes use of these dynamics.

The breath of a series of individuals was captured on a shiny copper surface and then etched to create a negative of the breath where it sat on the copper plate. The result is a series of evocative landscapes. This work employs and yet subverts traditional printing processes. The inscription of spent breath onto precious metal immortalises a discharge and presents an alternative to portraiture.

In November 2012 Jayne Wilton travelled with particle physicist Peter Hobson to CERN, The European Organization for Nuclear Research, to record the breath of colleagues working on the CMS and ATLAS experiments. This work is a celebration of their role in the first observations of what may well be the long sought Higgs boson at the Large Hadron Collider. (The Higgs boson is predicted by the theory that assigns mass to elementary particles through their interaction with a field that permeates all of space.)

Wilton simultaneously recorded the breath of Brunel physicists also working on these projects and the intermingling of the plates shows the interconnectedness of the sites and the importance of communication around the world to the success of collaborative projects.

Jayne WiltonJayne WiltonJayne Wilton


I Am Here Now
Jayne Wilton
Schlieren recording of words orated by John Robinson, digital print on glass, 2012.

The optical Schlieren system is a long established technique for recording subtle differences in refractive indices, such as would be provided by warm breath in cold air. A laser point source of light is expanded and then refocused by a mirror onto a knife-edge that blocks the direct light. Breathing in front of the mirror disturbs the light rays so that some bypass the edge and can be recorded by a camera behind it. Words were spoken in front of the mirror while Jayne photographically recorded the patterns produced by the turbulent air.

The work is the visual outcome of the four words, ‘I,’ ‘am,’ ‘here’ and ‘now’ spoken by John Robinson, Brunel University Finance Director, who Wilton met during the residency. Robinson was intrigued by the significance of these four words: “‘I am here now` is completely dependent on context for its meaning. Yet, when this phrase is thought, the statement has the same powers of universality and eternal truth as objective scientific statements. `I am here now´ like `2+2=4´ or `Water is H2O´is true wherever, whenever or by whomever those statements are thought or said.”

In the context of an exhibition by an artist who transforms the transient, like a sigh or breath, into the permanent, the statement `I am here now´ articulates the ultimately indexical nature of the quest.

Jayne Wilton Jayne Wilton


I Came Into The World With A Beautiful Wound
Jayne Wilton
Lenticular images of the acidic erosion of layered ice, embedded with elements, 2012.

Particle physicist Professor Akram Khan and Jayne Wilton responded to Will Self’s digital literary essay Kafka’s Wound, by focusing on the striking resonance between the literal wound described by Kafka and space-time singularities in our universe.

Khan says: “The transition catastrophic from supernova to black hole is a spectacular entropic event that presents the challenge ultimate to our hopes of taming the universe.

The images show the variety of basic complex atoms necessary for life and forged in the hearts of stars as particles suspended within a sculpture of ice, representing the space into which the supernova remnants will bleed in the process of star-death.

The piece also tries to convey the idea that the most productive processes of creation, ultimately giving rise to life itself, all occur with the eruption first of chaos into the cosmos through wounds in its fabric which are then cyclically healed into a new cosmos more fruitful. Everything is whole once again, as it was, but now some of the seeds for life are there, and so the cycle goes for so many billions of years that the coming of life is inevitable.”

The full film from which these stills are taken is accompanied by Peter Wiegold’s score based on Der Gasn Nigun and performed with his ensemble notes inégales featuring Max Baillie on violin.

The film can be seen in full at the following site:

Jayne Wilton Jayne Wilton

Jayne Wilton
Solar plate etchings embossed and printed with ink and precious metals, 2012

Jayne Wilton Jayne WiltonJayne Wilton


Jayne Wilton
Blown glass forms, 2012.

This series of blown glass forms explores the volume of spent breath resulting from different breathing gestures.

The vulnerability of glass echoes the fragility of the breath, yet the silicon framework traps the emerging form and leaves this series of bold, gentle and sometimes tragicomic structures.

The transparency of this work echoes the invisibility of its generating force, yet these structures are far from invisible.



Jayne Wilton
Installation of 570 lenticular images, 2013

Jayne Wilton


Conversation Piece
Jayne Wilton
3D prints in ABS plastic created from 3D animation of a series of words: ‘think,’ ‘moment,’ ‘because,’ ‘happen’ and ‘overstanding’, 2012.

As part of her residency Visualising Breath, Wilton sought volunteers at Brunel University to have their voice recorded whilst speaking one or more words from the list of 60 “semantic primes;” a list of words critical to the formation of language across all cultures.

This sound recording was then used to generate a three-dimensional sculpture using the ‘Maya’ programme in collaboration with colleague Jason Tinsley. The project aimed to gather a diverse sample of vocalised words from across the Brunel community from students to academics, to allow a sampling of timbre, dialect, intonation and articulation of the key semantic primes.

The forms were 3D printed within the School of Engineering and Design, with the help of technician Paul Josse, and allow an audience to be able to literally ‘hold’ pieces of conversation.

Jayne Wilton 

Weighty Debate
Jayne Wilton
Academic journals hand knitted by the artist, 2012.

Jayne Wilton’s knitted academic journals re-craft previously used materials and provide opportunities to make new associations with these texts.

The series of knitted spheres commenced as a collaboration with Library Services Director Ann Cummings and colleagues at Brunel University’s Library. A parallel is created between Wilton’s art works, which frequently act as records of breaths, and the library’s texts, which can also be considered a collection of breaths transmuted into written form.

The serial nature of collections is also explored. Each object is unique and yet is easily identifiable as part of a series.

Jayne Wilton


Jayne Wilton
Digital hologram of digitalis seeds suspended by the breath. Looped footage of a journey through the holographic field, 2012.

Continuing her quest to make visible the dynamics of the human breath, Jayne Wilton has collaborated with particle physicists Peter Hobson and Ivan Reid, who both have specialist experience of in-line digital holography and its computer reconstruction.

The creation of digital holograms of breathing patterns provides the three-dimensional illustration of the dynamics at work. In-line digital holograms were recorded using a fast pulsed green laser and a 36×24 mm2 CCD camera in an optics lab at Brunel University. Digitalis seeds, selected for their aerodynamic properties, were expired into an acrylic chamber and their trajectory recorded.

The holograms are replayed using the recently developed HoloMovie software that runs on a multi-core NVIDIA GPU. Real time digital hologram replay allows the audience to move through holographs of breath-borne particles. Reid enhanced the footage using ‘edge detection’, which allows the positioning of the seeds to be seen clearly coming in and out of focus, as the camera moves through the holographic replay.

Jayne Wilton

Darkness Visible
Jayne Wilton
Film of cosmic rays recorded at Brunel University on 18 January 2012.  34 minutes, looped.
Music composition Peter Wiegold. Performed by Peter Wiegold on keyboard and Joel Bell on electric guitar.

The quest to make visible the underlying forces of our environment has fuelled the fields of science and art from time immemorial. Darkness Visible is the filmic outcome of a collaboration at Brunel University between particle physicists Akram Khan and Peter Hobson, Professor Peter Wiegold from the School of Arts and Jayne Wilton. It commemorates the 100th anniversary of the discovery of cosmic rays by Victor Hess.

Akram Khan says of these particles: “They provide the promise of access to energies far beyond the reach of terrestrial machines. Without this, the ability to probe astrophysical mysteries would otherwise be beyond our grasp. Ultra-high-energy cosmic rays may also be the mechanism by which the far rarer phenomenon of life was started on this planet.”

Jayne Wilton’s film captures cosmic rays. It was recorded at Brunel University using a diffusion cloud chamber. It allows the viewer to experience both the arrival and demise of these celestial messengers. These graceful and ephemeral particles are seen unfolding in real time.

Peter Wiegold’s enigmatic music composition develops these themes. Multiple layers in the music deliberately range from white noise to close harmony, creating a feeling of deep space and echoes of lost time.

Jayne Wilton  Jayne Wilton


Page last updated: Thursday 06 February 2014