I have been burned by the sun, journeyed to the moon, compressed a day, and hypnotised myself with a simple magnifying lens carving noisy circles on glass, to discover what truths might lie in this nonsense.

"Error is the normal state of our knowledge, and is no disgrace" David Deutsch


Light Adjustments (Centre of the Universe), 2014

HD video, 14m41s

Light Adjustments is a durational landscape film captured over the course of one full day and shot on location at the “Centre of the Universe” near Kamloops, British Columbia. Opening with an extreme close-up view of the sun rising over a distant tree-lined hill through a solar viewing filter, the perspective slowly and continuously widens throughout the film, which ends on a wide-angle view of the surrounding landscape at dawn the following day. Although the perspective shifts as the lens zooms out over the course of the film, the camera position does not change, so that the two sunrises occur at exactly the same spot within the frame. Between these two bookend sunrise events various filters, lenses, and imaging technology are employed to manipulate the light entering the camera lens and expand the visible spectrum. Some manipulations are obvious, others less so. Some contain evidence of the artist's hand, and some make subtle references to other artists works by virtue of the various apparatus employed.

Light Adjustments was produced during a collaborative production/dissemination residency at PRIM/Dazibao, Montreal, and follows on the photographic works Spectrum Studies made in preparation for the project.

Many thanks to France Choinière, Julie René, Sylvain Cossette, and the rest of the amazing staff at both institutions.


The Oracle and the Outcast, 2014

Continuous loop HD video, 7m32s

During the Apollo 15 lunar mission, Commander Scott demonstrated Galileo’s proposed theory of gravity, known as the “hammer and feather drop”. The Oracle and the Outcast re-stages the famous lunar experiment, but proposes an on-going repetition of the test in an unspecified past/future space. Repetition of the experiment suggests that scientific inquiry is an on-going process. The title refers to the Greek god Apollo and Galileo, who was nearly executed for his heliocentric beliefs.

Huge thanks to: Sharon Kahanoff, Josh Olsen, Ian Barber, Peter Hagge, Diana Klonek, Stephane Bernard, Laura Quilici, the Canada Council for the Arts, and the BC Arts Council.


Heat=Light=Heat (study No1) from Scott Massey on Vimeo.

Heat=Light=Heat, 2013-

No. 1 – Continuous loop HD video, 4m20s

No. 3 – Continuous loop HD video 28m8s

On-going series of single take durational video works exploring the relationship between the common tungsten lightbulb and quantum physics. "The strange story of the quantum begins with the humble electric light bulb." Max Planck was advising the German Bureau of Standards on how to make light bulbs more efficient: maximum light with least amount of power. Knowing Maxwell's theory that light consists of electromagnetic waves, and that each wavelength describes a different colour, Planck had to figure out how much light of each colour a hot object emits. After many unsuccessful attempts, he worked the data backwards and inferred that light waves could only accept energy in packets, or 'quanta' (later known as photons in the case of light). This became Planck's Constant, and the beginning of quantum physics.


Untitled (an object kindly enclyning) from Scott Massey on Vimeo.

Untitled (An object kindly enclyning), 2012

1080p HD video, continuous loop, projected to leaning Dibond panel

A large magnifying lens spins on an illuminated glass surface. It begins to slow, then to wobble, finally falling on its side yet still spinning. Here it starts to play with perception, and a reverse rotation effect occurs in which the lens now appears to spin in the opposite direction. Suddenly, instead of slowing down further and coming to rest, the lens rights itself back up and continues to spin, only to fall and repeat the sequence in an endless loop. Title taken from Chaucer’s House of Fame and also Copernican theories of gravity, in which he believed that the “gravity” of the sun, moon, and earth was actually a “kindly enclyning” tendency of matter to come together to form Platonic spheres. Subtextual in the work is also the under-recognized impact that ground glass lens technology, via Galileo, had on our understanding of the nature of the heavens. It could easily be argued that the simple magnifying lens was responsible for the paradigm shift in cosmology away from a medieval God.


Torture Box (145,071 kms in 1:21:03 @ 1676 kms/hr) from Scott Massey on Vimeo.

Torture Box, 2009

HD 1080p video

The title of this work is taken from a scene in Frank Herbert’s 1965 epic Dune, considered by some to be the greatest science fiction novel of all time. The Queen of Atreides must determine if her son Paul, heir to the House of Atreides and thus control of planet Arrakis, is worthy of the responsibility. She produces a “torture box” which, Paul discovers upon setting his hand inside, creates an environment of exquisite pain. My own torture box also creates an environment of pain using the concentrated rays of our sun. Focused through a magnifying lens, this disc of hot light slowly makes its way across the width of my palm, taking 1 hour, 21 minutes, and 3 seconds. In this time, the earth has traveled 145,071 kilometers around the sun, rotating at 1676 kilometers per hour. The unremarkable daily journey of our movement made manifest.

Here are some figures to consider:

The Earth’s mass is approximately 6,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 metric tons; about 1 million Earths would fit inside our sun; the rather humble Milky Way Galaxy contains between 200 and 400 billion stars, and is estimated to be about 13.2 billion years old; the shortest time interval measured to date is 100 attoseconds. For comparison, one attosecond is to one second what one second is to the age of the universe. If an atom’s nucleus were a grape seed, its electron would probably be found about 100 meters away; there is no matter between these particles.

We are all bodies moving through space. Our apparent disregard for this unbelievable state of being is due in large part to our rather small size in relation to our terrestrial home, making us concentrate on our more immediate surroundings. When one bothers to think about the much grander picture, it is difficult to comprehend the enormity of the situation. A sense of vertigo may ensue, and for some even a sense of fear.