My Sussex: Semiconductor

Ruth Jarman
and Joe Gerhardt
Photo © Adam Bronkhorst

Can you describe your artistic practice in fewer than 20 words?

Research driven space-time animations, which explore the physical nature of the material world, fundamental reality and our place in it. (Space-time is one word isn’t it?!)

Where do you live?

In the Elm Grove area of Brighton, where we are part of a vibrant mixed community. But we have lived all over Brighton and Hove in the nearly 25 years we’ve been here.

Why/when did you move here?

We both moved here in 1994 to go to the Art School at Brighton University. All our contemporaries left the city to become artists in London, and most didn’t succeed. We stayed here as we wanted to experiment and find our own language, and Brighton was the perfect melting pot of so many independent creatives, it allowed us to carve our own space.

Tell us about your studio…

Our studio is often the various science laboratories we’ve had residences in: CERN, the NASA Space Sciences Laboratory at UC Berkeley and The Mineral Sciences Laboratory at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. But when we’re at home you can find us at Phoenix Studios, Brighton.

What are you working on at the moment?

We’re completing a site-specific commission, a kinetic brass sculpture for the new DeepMind building in Kings Cross, working with the fabricators millimetre , based in Portslade. Plus we’re starting a new residency with the Extreme Light Group at the University of Glasgow.

What’s your favourite Sussex venue?

There’s been a great series of events in Brighton called Third Thursdays recently, run by Videoclub, where you walk a trail and they project moving image works onto buildings. It’s been a great way to see the city reinvented, and a real coming together of audiences.

What do you like about the cultural scene in Brighton?

That there’s a really broad range of independent creatives, from craftmakers to musicians to new media artists, which means there’s this amazing melting pot of activity and so much creative energy.

What do you think could improve the cultural scene in Brighton & Hove?

One space which brings together all these different audiences so there’s more opportunity to cross-pollinate. And a Cinematheque equivalent, to indulge in experimental filmmaking and moving image.


It was an independent 60-seat cinema which ran out of Lighthouse and had a collective of programmers/artists/ filmmakers bringing experimental works and an excellent community of creatives together. We showed a lot of our early work there, it was such an inspiring environment to be a part of.

Do you get any artistic inspiration from your surroundings? If so, how?

A major reason for living here is the access to nature: it’s important for us to be able to step outside of ourselves. Key to our work is considering humankind’s place in the cosmos and Sussex offers wilderness aplenty, where we can think about these things.

Do you feel that you are part of a ‘Sussex’ art scene?

Our dialogue has always been with a wider international network, because of the nature of our works as media art, the artists and curators we have a critical dialogue with, and where our works take us. But we’ve always firmly thought of ourselves as Sussex artists.

How would you spend a perfect Sunday?

A car boot sale, maybe at Brighton Racecourse or further afield, a trip to Hope Gap to hunt for fossils or a cycle over the Downs. We like to be on the move.

Tell us a Sussex secret.

A recent discovery has been Lullington Heath Nature Reserve, it’s a chalk heath which sits behind Friston Forest, and as a landscape it looks so out of place round here: with its heathers and Dartmoor ponies, it feels more like being in the New Forest. There’s an abundance of wildlife, including nightingales, so the dawn chorus is spectacular. It’s such a special place you feel you need to tiptoe through it.