is an interactive installation made with and for young children. It is a work exploring playfully and collaboratively imagining the sound of liquid crystals, a material mediating many of our sound-image encounters.

In 2018 I was invited by Tramway, Glasgow, to make a new work for children between the ages of 0-12, which would be exhibited as part of a group show called Children’s Exhibition (Tramway 2018). Liquid crystals are a non-classical state of matter; they are neither entirely solid nor entirely liquid, but a matter with properties of both states. The molecules in the kinds of liquid crystal found in LCD screens ‘twist’ from a randomly distributed order to all being aligned in the same order when heat is applied to them. It is this twisting that allows light to shine through. Each pixel on an LCD screen is really made from three subpixels, one green, one blue and one red. The amount of voltage applied to the liquid crystal in each subpixel changes the amount of light allowed through, which is how the blend of these three colours is created in every pixel on your screen. Like the relationship between sound and image in the sound-image, and our relationships with ourselves and each other, liquid crystals are neither one thing, nor the other, but both at the same time. The twist inherent in the liquid crystal is a means to articulate this kind of relational difference that is inherent in thinking through non-binary positions.

I made the piece with children from a school local to the gallery, Glendale Primary, to imagine what liquid crystals might sound like. We worked with choreographer Mark Bleakley to move between liquid and crystal states with our bodies, we played games translating what we felt with our bodies into sound, and from sound into movement. These workshops were filmed by Margaret Salmon. crystalliquid was installed as a moving image work whose soundtrack was unveiled in stages, controlled by children in the gallery as they partook in similar exercises in the space to activate the work.

HD Video, Stereo
Interactive installation
8 min

Commissioned by
Tramway, Glasgow

First exhibited at Children’s Exhibition
Tramway, Glasgow
Jul 7 – Aug 26, 2018

Mark Bleakley

Director of Photography
Margaret Salmon

Programming and Interactive Design
Jen Sykes

Liquid crystal imagery
Prof. Vance Williams