The international particle physics laboratory, CERN, outside Geneva on the border to France, has influenced my art projects for several years. The experiments, well-ordered and planned are located in tunnels and caves beneath the surface, while the place on the surface has grown organically and in a temporal order, making it easy to follow the flow of people but complicated to find the right building. The spatial organisation is similar to a town: the product of different rhythmic processes where activities are collected and then dispersed. The initial goal of CERN was to gather resources and develop common strategies for research within fragmented European research following the Second World War (Galison &Jones 1999). At the same time research was increasingly transformed into an industrial style of organisation, with larger research groups and more complicated apparatus. Today CERN functions as a scattered laboratory, where machines and infrastructure are always present, while the majority of the people participating in the experiments are connected dispersed in different places all over the world during the life-time of an experiment. Field studies
In an interpretation of the spatial structure at CERN, Field Studies was a continuation of the former exhibition Maxwell’s field with a compilation of simple wood boxes containing light guiding material – scintillators, white fibres, vawe length shifting fibres lead glass, air glass, black glass – and sound from scientific instruments at CERN, arranged in an urban structure with each white simple wooden box containing a hidden “world”, forming together a three dimensional map of the place.
Maxwell’s field in Signatures of the Invisible, 2000-2003
Originally the boxes were constructed as part of the group exhibition Signatures of the Invisible in which I was invited together with 10 other international artists to participate in a collaboration between CERN and London Institute, 2000-2003. In each new place I arranged the boxes depending on the room and how the audience moved:
2001: The Atlantis Gallery, London, March 1-31
Complesso del Vittoriano, Rom
2002: Gulbenkian Gallery, Lisbon, November
D´art Contemporain, Genève
2003 PS1, New York 29/6-18/9
Before the exhibition at 3e våningen I returned with collegues to complete the installation with sound. We played the scientific instruments – the bubble chamber Gargamelle, another bubble chamber, a cupper instrument and a magnet, placed in the museum garden of Microcosm. In Swedish I call the instruments: Gargamelle, magnettrumma, klockspel, kopparslagare
Players: Eduardo Abrantes, Ricardo Atienza, Niklas Billström, My Lindh, Monica Sand
In my doctoral thesis from 2008 one chapter is discussing the organisation of space at CERN and the rhythm between human bodies and machines: The thesis is in Swedish: Konsten att gunga, experiment som aktiverar mellanrum and here you can download the english summary: Space in Motion. The Art of Activating Spaces In-between.
For other exhibitions built on collaborations with physics laboratories: Fysikens rum/Acting Physics