Telling tales of the cosmos

“We don’t know yet what is inside a black hole, we know it is a singularity, a point where every rule of physics collapses”

– Thomas Vanz

As Bowmore sought ways to express the concept underpinning the Timeless Series they alighted on the extraordinary work of a French film director fascinated by the history of the cosmos.

Born in 1991, Thomas Vanz (pictured) started making films in 2014, exploring the cosmos (an interpretation of the universe as a well-ordered whole) through a range of special effects featuring inks, pigments and a dazzling array of other chemical products.

Focused on the macroscopic – physical objects that are measurable and can be seen by the naked eye – aspect, Vanz embarked on a project to illustrate a Supernova, defined by NASA as the explosion of a star.

A Supernova is the largest explosion that takes place in space and Vanz captured the profound enormity of the concept, blending art and science with his first short film ‘Novae’.

All images on this page from ThomasVanz.com

The work was awarded first prize in the 2016 Quantum Shorts film festival, an annual initiative from the Center for Quantum Technologies and the National University of Singapore. Each year, artists and writers are asked to explore the ramifications of quantum mechanics in a viewing or reading that must take less than five minutes.

Scientific American talked of “Thomas Vanz’s breathtakingly beautiful visualisation of a giant star’s explosive death by supernova and subsequent transformation into a black hole.”

It added: “Like a latter-day William Blake — the English poet and painter who famously mused about seeing “a world in a grain of sand” and “a heaven in a wild flower” — Vanz envisioned a supernova in drops of coloured ink. Working for months in his garage in Paris, he filmed inks billowing through a water-filled fish tank, later using computer software to stitch and process the raw footage into his dramatic vision of stellar death.”

In 2017, Vanz went one step further in a second film, ‘Intra’ – described as a journey from a black hole into a big bang. It portrays the “infernal journey” of a fall into that hole, marrying a visualisation of what a spinning black hole could look like and an aesthetic vision of the white hole theory.

“We don’t know yet what is inside a black hole, we know it is a singularity, a point where every rule of physics collapses,” Vanz explained. “One of the possibilities is called ‘the white hole theory’, a sort of exit from the black hole, a point where everything is born, including space and time. Intra tells the visual story of this theory, a journey from the black to the white hole, a cosmic tale of death and birth.”

From there Vanz went on to direct ‘Bright Side’, a collaboration with French electronic composer Darius for the latter’s album Utopia. This time the focus was on what the birth of the light would look like, and how brightness is defeating the night in the cosmos.

Vanz has also created a film to accompany Icelandic multi-instrumentalist’s Ólafur Arnalds’ haunting Woven Song; and the official videos for ‘Hope’ and ‘Let there be’ by UK electronic musician Max Cooper. [Discover the work of Thomas Vanz at Thomas Vanz.com]

In 2019, Atelier Des Lumières, an immersive experience centre and museum based in Paris, asked Vanz to create an unique piece in a 270° format called ‘Verse’, which was subsequently broadcast for one year to thousands of visitors. Vanz calls it “a hypnotic and metaphysical journey”, adding, “astrophysics discoveries have always fascinated people and raise questions that may never be answered. Verse explores the role of man in this universe and highlights the beauty of the infinite space around us.

“This oneiric and cosmic experience evokes the infinite, which is invisible to the human eye, through all the scales and states of matter. Verse deforms space and time and reconstitutes supernovae, with colossal explosions of reliefs and colours.”

Spotlight Series - April 2021

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