Credit: Vladimir Opsenica (courtesy of Cultural Centre of Belgrade)

LC-5CB is a unique experimental film that captures the microscopic changes in liquid crystals during phase transitions. Liquid crystals, found in cellular membranes and mitochondria, are essential components of life. The film specifically explores 4,4’-n-pentyl-cyano-biphenyl (commonly known as 5CB), a widely used liquid crystal in electronic displays.

Originally synthesized in 1972 at the University of Hull with funding from the UK Ministry of Defense, 5CB was developed for the creation of the first room temperature liquid crystal displays. When heated above 35°C, this thermotropic liquid crystal undergoes phase transitions, resulting in color and texture variations.

As the temperature rises, molecules gain more freedom of movement due to heat, causing spontaneous changes in the symmetry of the phase. This leads to a transformation from an ordered state to zero order. The observable effects include the formation of surfaces and droplets, with black or transparent sections indicating a molecular state of zero-orientation. The resulting light modulation is then digitally analyzed and converted into sound.

LC-5CB is part of Origin v.2.0, an ongoing research project that delves into what can be observed or sensed in a physical system as it approaches ‘zero.’ The project focuses on the properties of sound and modes of particle vibrations under extreme conditions such as zero gas (vacuum) and zero-orientation. It encompasses various performative and opto-acoustic experiments across different media.

Take notice: limited capacity in a dark room. People with limited vision are advised to use caution. This installation is located in the basement of The Social Hub and is accessible by stairs and by elevator for people with limited mobility.

Credit: Katarina Petrovic/Maurice Mikkers

Discover the noise of the molecules vibrating in image and in sound

The Social Hub

About Katarina Petrović

Katarina Petrović (NL/RS) is an artist and researcher working at the intersection of art, science and humanities. Her work focuses on generative and creative processes, from meaning-making, poiesis and organizational systems to physics of sound, light and vacuum. She creates systems, procedural works that are presented as modular installations in an online and offline space, using media such as generative text, poetry, sound, software and performance. 

Instagram: @james_blondich

Facebook: @petro_kata

LinkedIn: @petrovickatarina


Thanks to

The work is realised in collaboration with prof. Stephen Picken, TU Delft (lead scientific advisor), Maurice Mikkers (cinematics) and Zeno van den Broek (sound processing).

Part of Crossing Parallels, TU Delft artist-in-residence programme