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Radiant Matter

Radiant Matter is an image essay, relating to different parts of the electromagnetic spectrum (from radio waves to gamma waves) and other kinds of cosmic energies. The essay consists of 250 edited images that are reworked all together so that the entire composition reminds of the scientific observations of the cosmic background radiation. The essay freely connects images from different fields like astronomy, cosmology, medicine, technology, anthropology and space exploration.

Installation at the 11th Shanghai Biennial, 2016

The piece explores the influence of electromagnetic waves and different kinds of cosmic energies on the human body, the Earth and other celestial bodies. The images make associative links that highlight the influence of cosmic waves and energy as represented throughout time and and culture. Radiant Matter includes images of scientific and non scientific instruments meant to analyse, imitate, capture or manipulate these specific energies.


Commissioned by: 11th Shanghai Biennale (2016), Power Station of Art, CN
Curated by: Raqs Media Collective
Specifications: 250 Edited prints on dark background / HD video 7:47 min.
Research assistants: Soline Bredin, Sven Dehens
Supported by: Mondriaan Fund

Onomatopee 146
Radiant Matter Marjolijn Dijkman
ISBN: 978-94-91677-76-2
Edited by Marjolijn Dijkman and Kris Dittel
Contributing authors: Marjolijn Dijkman, Kris Dittel, Maarten Vanden Eynde, Ken Hollings and Raqs Media Collective
Specifics: Softcover, 88 pages, 285 x 250mm

Wandering stars have occupied the human mind across centuries and millennia, along with the quest to explore and colonize cosmic space. Is there something in us that refuses to believe that we are alone in the universe? Does our longing for the stars conceal something different? To what extent can fiction shape future realities? The construction of such inquiries are at the centre of Marjolijn Dijkman’s work, which pivots around humankind’s fascination for cosmic space, the position of our planet in the universe, and human subjectivity in relation to celestial bodies. Radiant Matter comprises a series of recent artworks that desire to analyse and reflect on the nature of scientific inquiry, the role of speculation, fiction and spiritualism. Together with a poetic image essay and a conversation between the artist and the editor Kris Dittel, this widely illustrated book includes texts by Maarten Vanden Eynde, Ken Hollings and Raqs Media Collective.

A central position in this book belongs to Radiant Matter, an edited pictorial essay consisting of over 250 images selected from various disciplines: astronomy, cosmology, medicine, technology and anthropology. Their colour composition is not coincidental; it is based on the gradient seen on scientific observations of cosmic background radiation. Since ancient times celestial bodies are thought to have had an influence on the human body, as often times represented in the image of the Zodiac Man. Already in the 1800s electromagnetic waves had been discovered and some 100 years ago cosmic radiation was identified. Radiant Matter reconfigures such moments in history, scientific or spiritual in nature, in order to analyse, manipulate and re-evaluate their significance.