The Live Creature and Ethereal Things: Physics in Culture

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Cosmology and particle physics probe the furthest limits of the knowable and have the potential to provide transcendent aesthetic and conceptual experiences, enriching our everyday lives. These explorations of the otherworldly and the ethereal are undertaken by human beings in real world laboratories and observatories. Yet in our Western European culture, physics tends to be represented as factual, abstract, “hard”, and removed from our lived human experience. This lack of a sense of how physics unfolds through its processes, personalities and places leads to a gap in the cultural imaginary and social understanding of physics, which also impacts on those who might choose to study this complex subject or go into it as a profession.

The Live Creature and Ethereal Things: Physics in Culture – edited by curator Nicola Triscott and artist Fiona Crisp, published by Arts Catalyst – is a collection of texts, images and conversations that present fundamental physics and the physics of the universe as human activities and cultural endeavours. Contributions by physicists, artists and curators examine the role of personality, power and culture in physics and discuss the value of cross-pollination between the practices of contemporary art and physics. These reflections shed light on the people and material practices of physics: from the vast underground particle physics laboratory at CERN, Geneva, used by half of the world’s particle physicists, and deep underground neutrino observatories in the UK, Italy and Antarctica, to super-computers that construct astonishing visualisations of the evolution of the universe.

The book features contributions from physicists including Dr Suchitra Sebastian, Dr Chamkaur Ghag, Professor Tara Shears, Professor Roger Malina, Dr Mark Neyrinck, Dr Flaviu Cipcigan, Dr Marek Kukula and Dr Massimo Mannarelli, artists Tomás Saraceno, Tavares Strachan, Semiconductor (Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt), Ansuman Biswas, Nahum, Annie Carpenter, Harry Lawson, Phil Coy, Jol Thomson and Blanca Pujals, and curator Mónica Bello, Head of Arts at CERN, as well as essays by the book’s co-editors, curator Nicola Triscott and artist Fiona Crisp, and a foreword by Johanna Kieniewicz of the Institute of Physics.

“When we think about astrophysics and particle physics, we tend to see them as esoteric and impenetrable. The Live Creature and Ethereal Things: Physics in Culture re-presents these areas of physics as human, cultural and material activities through physicists’ personal reflections, conversations between artists and physicists, and artists’ works.” – Nicola Triscott

The publication’s release coincides with Fiona Crisp’s exhibition Material Sight at Arts Catalyst’s Centre for Art, Science and Technology in King’s Cross, London, which runs until 14 July 2018. The book will be launched at the exhibition preview, which takes place on Wednesday 6 June from 6:30 – 8:30pm.

The Live Creature and Ethereal Things: Physics in Culture
Edited by Nicola Triscott and Fiona Crisp
Published by Arts Catalyst, May 2018
Designed by Rita Pereira Dimensions
15.2 x 0.6 x 22.9 cm
Full colour, 92 pages, softback, English
Price: £11.99
Available via Arts Catalyst and Amazon

The Live Creature and Ethereal Things: Physics in Culture is supported by The Leverhulme Trust and the Science and Technology Facilities Council.


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