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Posts from the ‘Opportunities’ Category

High Energy Interactions: how to be an artist at CERN

Ale de la Puente, The Universe and the Kitchen, performance at Kosmica Mexico 2013

Ale de la Puente, The Universe and the Kitchen, performance at Kosmica Mexico 2013

“How can an artist make relevant art if he doesn’t know anything about relevant science?” – Julius von Bismarck, artist

I have been too busy to blog for a few months, but I must flag up the EXTENDED DEADLINE DATE for the latest Collide@CERN Artist Residency Award open call for digital artists, now open to 5 July. Collide@CERN is the flagship programme of the progressive Arts@CERN initiative initiated by the dynamic Ariane Koek at CERN, the world’s largest particle physics laboratory in Switzerland, home of the Large Hadron Collider.

I’m sad that I couldn’t make the dates of the selection committee – thanks for the invite, Mónica Bello (new Arts@CERN curator), and sorry to any artists who might have hoped I’d big up their application ;) – but I’m confident the selection committee will choose boldly, based on their track record. Previous winners of the Collide@CERN digital arts residency, a partnership between CERN and Ars Electronica, have been Julius von Bismarck (2012), Bill Fontana (2013) and Ryoji Ikeda (2014). There have also been a number of other artist residencies of shorter duration, including the wonderful Mexican artist Ale de la Puente.

The Collide@CERN programme expects “at least work in progress as plans/drawings and/or models by the end of their residency”, but emphasise a “free exchange of ideas” between artist and their partner science, in my opinion an absolutely critical element for an artist residency programme if we are to continue to develop and demonstrate the contribution that art makes to contemporary society, which lies not just in the output but in the process and performance of art and the generation of new ideas. In this way, the CERN residencies perhaps echo the spirit of the Artist Placement Group, who negotiated placements for artists between 1966 and the early 1980s in private and public sector organisations, with the aim of fostering a two-way communication between artists and industrialists or politicians, in order to benefit both the host organisations and the artists in the long-term.

Physicist James Wells with Julius von Bismarck, the first Collide@Cern Artist in Residence

Physicist James Wells with Julius von Bismarck, the first Collide@Cern Artist in Residence

Many people ask me what scientists “get” from work with artists. I feel James Wells, the theoretical physicist who was the ‘inspirational partner’ for Collide@CERN’s first artist in residence Julius von Bismarck expressed it so beautifully when he talked about valuing having someone around who saw the world in a different way, whose influence, he felt, could shake up accepted mindsets. In a talk, Wells notes that the the process of becoming a scientist can “snuff out the daring impulse” in young scientists and that it is the “tremendous daring and openness of ideas” of artists that might really benefit the scientific community. “The first thought of an artist is not can we do this, but ‘this is what I want to do’” he remarked.

Another aspect of such fascinating and important art-science exchange was explored by artist Ale de la Puente in her short CERN residency, during which she organised workshops with scientists to investigate and discover the creation of metaphors devoted to time, scale and space in both art and science,

Julius von Bismarck, Versuch unter Kreisen, 2013

Julius von Bismarck, Versuch unter Kreisen, 2013

It’s worth featuring some the resulting artworks from the Collide@CERN artist residencies, particularly for me that of the first resident artist, Julius von Bismarck, who worked with James Wells. His first resulting work ‘Versuch unter Kreisen’ is an installation of 4 revolving industrial hanging lights, each attached to a motor which rotate them in a circular motion. Each light has a slightly different frequency which means that every 75 circles they all have the same phase, the rest is chaos, which Bismarck compared to life: that we spend so much time to find a moment of clarity, of coherence, and lose it again. Although I was also intrigued by his mention of other potential works (or perhaps thought works): to make a slight dent in a lake, building a 4-dimensional cube in three dimensions. He spoke of CERN as both creating reality and changing how we see reality, and his desire to add art to the world that could change it slightly afterwards.

Ryoji Ikeda, Supersymmetry, 2015

Ryoji Ikeda, Supersymmetry, 2015

In Ryoji Ikeda’s resulting work ‘Supersymmetry’, shown recently at the Vinyl Factory in London, the visual reference to particle physics and CERN is more immediate. The first hall contained three large floor-set cubes, with top screens lit from below showing clouds of tiny black circles engaged in an incessant dance, forming and un-forming fleeting structures. The second hall housed four rows of screens, two on either side of a central pathway. Images fly over the panels, the two walls projecting similar but not identical imagery, dynamic images of figures, numbers, words and diagrams zip along the rows of screens, followed by sudden plunges into darkness, underscored by a compelling beeping and clicking electronic soundtrack, conveying an exhilarating sense of overwhelming streams of data generated from multitudes of collisions and the struggle to make sense from such a complex mass of information.

A new art-science renaissance – in Texas?

The remarkable Roger Malina is – unsurprisingly – already shaking things up in his new role at the University of Texas at Dallas. As Distinguished Chair of Arts and Technology and Professor of Physics in the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, where he is developing art-science R&D and experimental publishing research.

He has just announced a PhD in Art-Science. This new PhD at the University of Texas, Dallas, “seeks to enable research and education that couples the Arts and Humanities with the Sciences and Engineering”. Students with backgrounds in science, engineering or arts and humanities may enroll in the PhD. in fact, they are specifically seeking candidates from diverse backgrounds, including “academia, private industry, non governmental organizations, make and hacker collectives”.

There’s more info at:

Roger Malina has a remarkable track record of initiatives in the area of art and science, as well as a distinguished career as an astronomer. Malina was the former Director of the Observatoire Astronomique de Marseille Provence, France. He was the Principal Investigator for the NASA Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer Satellite at the University of California, Berkeley, US. He also has been involved for 25 years with the Leonardo organisation, based in the US, whose mission is to promote work that explores the interaction of the arts and sciences and the arts and new technologies. Since 1982 he has been the Executive Editor of the Leonardo Publications at MIT Press. More recently he has helped set up the Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies (IMERA) and is co chair of the ASIL ( Arts, Sciences, Instrumentation and Language) Initiative of IMERA which hosts artists in residence in scientific research laboratories of the Marseille region.

Dark skies biosphere residency

The dark skies above Galloway Forest Park, Scotland

I can’t resist flagging up this wonderful residency opportunity. The Dark Skies/Biosphere Project aims to explore the role of artists practice in a meaningful promotion of a beautiful area in Galloway, Scotland, which has attracted Dark Skies Park Status and aims to secure Biosphere status. Dark Skies Park means it is one of the best places in the world to look at the stars due to low levels of light pollution. Biosphere refers to areas of landscape that have a good ecological balance and sustainability.

Deadline: 28 November 2011. Apply: CV + letter of and 5 images of work to: More information

Call for art science residency proposals, IMéRA, France

Logo of IMeRA

A rare opportunity with a remarkable new institution. IMéRA is an Institute for Advanced Study in the south of France, which opened in 2008. Its purpose is to offer residency programs for high-level international researchers (scientists and artists), of all disciplines.

The deadline is 15 January 2012 for 2013/14 residencies. Details here.

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