“Detectors are really the way to express yourself.
To say somehow what you have in your guts.
In the case of painters, it’s painting.
In the case of sculptors, it’s sculpture.
In the case of experimental physics, it’s detectors.
The detector is the image of the guy who designed it”
- Carlo Rubbia (CERN senior physicist)
A collection curated by Rosa Menkman
* Visit the BLOB here  
* Submit an Im/Possible Image here


Imagine you could obtain an 'impossible' image of any object or phenomenon that you think is important, with no limits on spatial, temporal, energy, signal/noise or cost resolutions. What image would you create? (the answer can be a hypothetical image of course!)
This was the question I asked every scientist I spoke to during my Arts at CERN/Collide Barcelona residency (2019-2020). As a result of this exploration, I now have a collection of Im/Possible images, that I organise in a low poly rendition of the unquantifiable BLOB of Im/Possible images. Some of these images would have never found their way to our eyes; they would have remained impossible, only to exist in the hypothetical realms outside the BLOB.  
The BLOB (Binary Large OBject) gives a home to the collection of Im/Possible images that all together illustrate the concept of the impossible image and the relationships between affordance, resolution and compromise.
As different Axes of Affordance (X,Y,Z and α) cut the BLOB, they define what is possible to resolve, and what images are compromised, or in other words, will never be rendered. While normally these compromised images would never find their way to our eyes, the hypothetical realms of the BLOB offer pasture to these impossible renders.
Via the open call you can submit your own Im/Possible image. These images might be considered for implementation and exhibition.

In the summer of 2021 Lothringer 13 Halle (München) will organise a real life exhibition of Im/Possible images. Your submission will also be considered for this exhibition. The BLOB of Im/Possible Images is made in commission for Haus der elektronischen Künste Basel (HEK) and uses the NewArt.city platform.



A growing collection of impossible images illustrating the diverse array of limits on resolution, ‘impossibility’, ‘image’ (which ranges from photograph to dataset), and imaging technology (from huge dipole magnet telescopes to detectors connected to the LHC).
So far I have abstracted these categories of impossible images:


Images that were deemed impossible or erroneous,  because they do not represent the world as we know it



Historically impossible images, that have become possible
An early observation of fluorescence was described in 1560 by Bernardino de Sahagún and in 1565 by Nicolás Monardes in the infusion known as lignum nephriticum (Latin for "kidney wood").
In his 1852 paper on the "Refrangibility" (wavelength change) of light, George Gabriel Stokes described the ability of fluorspar and uranium glass to change invisible light beyond the violet end of the visible spectrum into blue light. He named this phenomenon fluorescence : "I am almost inclined to coin a word, and call the appearance fluorescence, from fluor-spar [i.e., fluorite], as the analogous term opalescence is derived from the name of a mineral."
Ernst Mach (1838 - 1916): argued that “because atoms could not be seen, belief in their existence was faith, not science. He said atoms should be regarded at best as hypothetical fictions whose postulation made sense of data but whose existence could not be confirmed.” [source]

These images are from a historic set of experiments undertaken by the German physicist and philosopher Ernst Mach. Mach was interested in the pressure waves produced by a projectile moving faster than the speed of sound.

With these images, Mach showed:
- that sharper bullets produce less turbulence, and hence less drag, than blunt bullets.
- that there are two shockwaves (and hence two sonic booms) when a projectile reaches supersonic velocities.
X-rays were discovered by William Roentgen (1895) while experimenting with a cathode radiation.
X-rays with high photon energies (above 5–10 keV) are called hard X-rays, while those with lower energy (and longer wavelength) are called soft X-rays.
- X-Ray microscopy: create cellular CTs to analyse biological samples and re-create them in 3D (CAT)
Temporarily impossible images due to political / financial constraints

Medipix is a family of read-out chips for particle imaging and detection. The original concept of Medipix is that it works like a camera, detecting and counting each individual particle hitting the pixels when its electronic shutter is open. This enables high-resolution, high-contrast, very reliable images, making it unique for imaging applications in particular in the medical field. A colour X-ray imaging technique that could produce clearer and more accurate pictures, to help doctors give their patients more accurate diagnoses. Unfortunately, at the moment there are too much time penalties so we can just see a more overall image. Contribution: Rafael Ballabriga Sune.
Images impossible due to spatial resolution
An image of how electrons that move from one molecule to the next create chemical bonds.
image: Philip Willke et al/Institute for Basic Science


A the hypothetical image of the insides of a proton (3 quarks). The beauty of that is that when you zoom in that far, you have to create images below the wavelength of (visible) light. There is no equipment for that.
Most probably it would be dark, even if the proton was photographed in the light.
contributed by Mark Sutton (trigger, CERN)
Images that are only possible as inferential images

The Double Negative Gravitational Renderer (DNGR)
The DNGR is computer code used to create the iconic images of black holes and wormholes for the movie Interstellar.

The images rendered with this algorithm are from 2015, some years before the first image of the shadow of a black hole as released by
Source
Event Horizon Telescope
An image of the shadow of a Black Hole.
The shadow of a black hole seen here is the closest we can come to an image of the black hole itself, a completely dark object from which light cannot escape.
How can you take a photo of an object that annihilates light? - you capture its shadow.



Images that have indefinitely become impossible due to (technological / political) resolutions.
Pale Blue dot
Voyager 1, Pale Blue Dot is a photograph of planet Earth taken on February 14, 1990, by the Voyager 1 space probe from a record distance of about 6 billion kilometers (3.7 billion miles, 40.5 AU), as part of that day's Family Portrait series of images of the Solar System.
The term "Pale Blue Dot" was coined by Carl Sagan in his reflections of the photograph's significance, documented in his book of the same name, Pale Blue Dot.
This photo can no longer be taken because Voyager has passed a threshold (in terms of distance) to take photos of Earth).
American artist Trevor Paglen has launched the first artwork into space, but it is yet to be activated because of fallout from the US government shutdown.
The Orbital Reflector, a 30-metre-long reflective, diamond-shaped balloon made from a material similar to Mylar – a form of plastic sheet made from polyester resin – is currently orbiting the earth waiting for clearance to be released.
When it is deployed it will be the first "purely artistic" object in space that does not have any military, commercial or scientific interest.
US government shutdown delays deployment
However, the partial US government shutdown from 22 December 2018 to 25 January 2019 means that the artwork has not yet been released. Instead it has been travelling in the earth's low orbit unactivated for three months.
A brick-sized box containing the inflatable artwork was launched into the earth's low orbit on 3 December 2018 as part of a greater load of 64 satellites on Elon Musk's SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
The status of the orbital reflector project has since stayed ‘undeployed’.

Images that are impossible due to the laws of physics, nature or reality - but that can be ‘doctored’.
In the sky, the Andromeda galaxy is about 3x as big as the moon or the Sun. If you hold up your thump in front of you, you see it will be roughly the same size as both the moon and the Sun. Andromeda would be much bigger.
It is however impossible to capture the Andromeda galaxy and the moon in one picture: Andromeda is too far and not bright enough. Next to the Moon the galaxy would wash out.
All the photos we have of the night skye in which we see both the Moon and Andromeda are doctored.

Speculative Impossible Images 

Supersymmetry is a conjectured, speculative model  symmetry of space and time
To perceive radiowaves by attaching antennas to our eye sockets                                   

Images that will remain impossible and that cannot be doctored.
Dark Matter
An image of the Quantum Vacuum at a slice of planck constant time
(the smallest slice of time).