This weekend, 'pop science collective', Super/Collider will be running a series of art meets science events at the new space at King's Cross Filling Station. Inspired by the launch of the electric car, the Vauxhall Ampera, the weekend will ask: When we no longer need petrol pumps, what will go on in the filling stations of tomorrow? The series is based around four art installations by designer Patrick Stevenson-Keating and three days of experiments and events. Besides hydrogen fuel cell racing, to catalytic clothing and enjoying a nightly laser fusion light show, guests can also treat themselves to Homeslice pizza, prosecco on tap, and margarita slushies. Ahead of the weekend, Dazed Digital went down to Chris Hatherill (former fashion, music and tech journalist) and Stevenson-Keating's studio in East London to shoot them at work and have a chat about what to expect.
Scientists are currently running tests using banks of insanely powerful lasers to bombard a tiny fuel pellet – one recent test involved more 1000 times more energy than the entire US uses at any one time!
Dazed Digital: What is, in your opinion, the most exciting scientific development you will be showcasing over the 'science weekend' and why?
Super/Collider: If it works, laser fusion could be a massively life-changing development in the coming decades, providing us with safe and abundant green energy. Scientists are currently running tests using banks of insanely powerful lasers to bombard a tiny fuel pellet – one recent test involved more 1000 times more energy than the entire US uses at any one time! They’re hoping they’ll soon reach ignition: the moment where the reaction becomes self-sustaining. We’ve got a super scientist, Dr. Ceri Brenner, coming down on Sunday evening to explain it under a glittering display of laser light – it should be a nice end to the weekend.
DD: The weekend is a collaborative effort? Who else are Super/Collider working with at the moment and why?
Super/Collider: Our main collaborator on this project is a young designer named Patrick Stevenson-
Keating – he’s done some amazing design/science projects in the past, and we worked with him for Milan Design Week to build a handcrafted particle accelerator. For the weekend he’s created four totemic representations of far-off energy sources – ranging from Jetstream wind to algae farms – which mirror the former petrol pumps that until recently stood on the site.
DD: How did you first get into working in science from quite a different background?
Super/Collider: I was writing – and still do – for magazines like Dazed and Vice and kept meeting like-minded people who secretly loved science. With super/collider, we set out to explore science from a pop culture standpoint... looking at subjects ranging from cosmology to geology the way we look at fashion, art and design. Instead of seeing it as something ‘zany’ where guys in lab coats blow stuff up, it’s about treating it as something serious and beautiful.
DD: What would you like people to take away from the Vauxhall Ampera x Super/Collider Science Weekend experience?
Super/Collider: Beyond a mild hangover from the frozen margarita slushy mix, I’d like to think people will wake up with some exciting ideas in their heads about the future of our cities and our planet. The ideas we’re showcasing won’t save the earth overnight, but I think that amid all the doom and gloom it’s important to remind ourselves that a lot of people are working very hard on a lot of good stuff.
Photography by Bafic