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Unit Cell

The sound installation Unit Cell activates the senses. The sculpture was rebuilt on the initiative of CUI Professor Arwen Pearson in cooperation with the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science. The permanent installation in the western courtyard of CFEL makes it possible to aurally perceive the research field of X-ray-crystallography at the push of a button.

Foto: UHH RRZ/MCC Arvid Mentz

William Lawrence Bragg and William Henry Bragg first proposed using X-rays to study crystal structures 100 years ago in Leeds. Inspired by their work, in Unit Cell the X-rays are replaced by sound waves and the crystal is an array of 125 beach balls suspended in space. The viewer is immersed in a sound field, sometimes loud, sometimes quiet, that fills the space around the sculpture – and that makes crystallography aurally perceivable.

X-ray crystallography is used by groups across the research campus Bahrenfeld from biology, chemistry and physics to determine the atomic structures of molecules and materials.

Unit Cell was initially conceived and designed during the ASMbly arts, science, maker laboratory in Leeds by members of The Superposition collective, Prof Ben Whitaker and Dr Mike Nix (Scientists at the University of Leeds), Lawrence Molloy and Dominic Hopkinson (Sculptors). It was then rebuilt for the Knight of Knowledge in Hamburg in 2015.