Oct 022012
The latest experiment at CERN is a new art residency in Linz
Posted: September 26, 2012

By Mimi Fronczak Rogers – For the Post | Comments (0) | Post comment

Region: Where science and art collide

Courtesy Photo

Julius von Bismarck, right, CERN’s first artist in residency, teamed up with physicist Dr. James Wells, left, a unique partnership that resulted in the creation of Versuch unter Kreisen.

CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is the world’s largest particle physics laboratory and a shining example of international cooperation. Scientists from around the world come here to use its unmatched facilities, including the Large Hadron Collider, to unravel the mysteries of matter.

This hotbed of science straddling the French-Swiss border northwest of Geneva has recently launched an entirely different type of experiment: to see what kind of synergy emerges when art and science collide.

CERN has established a new prize and artist residency program as part of a cultural partnership with the Ars Electronica Center in Linz, Austria. The idea behind the Prix Ars Electronica Collide@CERN is to take digital creativity to new dimensions by matching scientific minds with artistic imagination.

This exciting new annual prize and residency offers an unparalleled opportunity for artists working in the digital domain to collaborate with Europe’s top scientists. The prize is open to artists in all fields using digital means to make and/or present their work. For anyone feeling especially energetic and inspired, the previously announced deadline to apply for the second annual prize and residency has been extended until Oct. 3. Details about application criteria can be found at Collide.aec.at.

This March, the program welcomed its first artist in residence, Julius von Bismarck. For the first two months at CERN, von Bismarck worked with the research physicist James Wells, his appointed mentor. The second part of the residency was a one-month stay at the Ars Electronica Center in Linz, where he developed the work inspired by his stay at CERN. Throughout the process, the public has been able to follow and contribute comments to the creative dialogue between artist and scientist on a blog.

After its presentation at CERN this week, the work that grew out of this unique partnership, Versuch unter Kreisen (Experiment among Circles), will be showcased at the next Ars Electronica Festival, to be held in Linz late next summer.

Von Bismarck, who is currently based in Berlin, has been gaining recognition over the past several years for his technically sophisticated work that often incorporates humor and elements of social commentary. Born in 1983 in Breisach am Rhein into a family of particle physicists related to Otto von Bismarck (1815-98), he was raised in Freiburg, Berlin and the Saudi capital of Riyadh. He is currently completing his studies with the renowned artist Ólafur Eliasson at the Institute for Spatial Experiments of the Berlin University of the Arts.

Von Bismarck had already captured the attention of CERN’s partner in this new creative venture. In 2008 he won Ars Electronica’s top honor, the Golden Nica, for his work Image Fulgurator. He scooped up a second Ars Electronica Award in 2009 for his Perpetual Storytelling Apparatus.

“It is certain that the many ideas that were seeded during his time at CERN will be seen and become artworks for many years to come,” said Ariane Koek, the organization’s cultural specialist.

Mimi Fronczak Rogers can be reached at

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