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Eugenio Polgovsky, Fellow Commoner in the Creative Arts at Trinity, has created a video artwork inspired by the physicist James Clerk Maxwell, for the exhibition Into Boundless Space I Leap at the Maxwell Centre. Using Maxwell’s original equipment, including his zoetrope, Polgovsky explores the nature of light and perceptions of colour in Lightbyrinth.

The new work reflects on the relationship between art and science,  Polgovsky comments:

This art work it is an invocation of the artistic spirit of Maxwell. You can feel his passion, his sensibility and the huge amount of work he put in. He used the equipment so precisely and beautifully. In all of this I can see, beside the scientific genius, also a great artist.

The exhibition is inspired by the ground-breaking work of James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879), the first Cavendish Professor of Physics at Cambridge and a Fellow of Trinity. Maxwell’s discoveries ushered in the era of modern physics and we owe to him much of our current technology – from television and radio, to mobile phones and radar. Maxwell was fascinated by colour and conducted experiments on the perception of colour, colour-blindness and colour theory. He also had artistic leanings, using poetry to express his scientific research. Polgovsky was intrigued by this melding of art and science and inspired by Maxwell’s research equipment, which he incorporated into Lightbyrinth. Polgovsky’s video was created by refracting white light onto prisms and using Maxwell’s zoetrope and image strips, he says:

When you turn on the zoetrope, the images create a new reality, a new space, and time is fragmented…

150 years ago Maxwell used the zoetrope with remarkable sensibility, like a computer of his time, processing images and finding calculations, patterns, and symmetries. Then and now, these processes make a creative bridge between science and art, with light at the centre.

Into Boundless Space I Leap is open every Saturday until 2 July at the Maxwell Centre, J J Thomson Avenue, CB3 OFD.

To read the full piece see the Trinity College website.