Tania Candiani’s sound action proposes a connection between CERN and UNAM
Combining images from CERN’s archives and footage from musicians playing at MUAC’s Espacio Escultórico, Tania Candiani’s Quantum Prelude explores the connections between quantum physics and ancestral Indigenous cosmogonies
Over the last ten years, the Mexican artist has developed a body of work that weaves material and discursive associations between art, science, literature, architecture and music, with a particular emphasis on early technologies and their history in the production of knowledge. In 2020, Candiani received an Honorary Mention of the Collide Award to participate in our Guest Artists programme – a short exploratory stay to conduct artistic research and expand her practice in connection with CERN’s research and community.
During her stay last March, Candiani visited and filmed several experimental facilities and engaged in conversations with physicists and staff working across the Laboratory’s broad scientific programme. But her work focused on examining CERN’s archives. In her practice, she uses historical records and archives as weaving materials, which leads her to intuitive forms of materialization. She also recurrently works with site-specific projects drawn by the particular historical-social links they trigger.
Her research and experience at CERN are the basis of Quantum Prelude, which premieres at her current solo show Like a Trace, Its Sound at the Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC) in Mexico City. The 8-channel video installation combines images from CERN’s archives and footage from 64 musicians playing at MUAC’s Espacio Escultórico – a circular megalithic monument circumscribed by the same number of triangular prisms. A poetic narration around the notions of our universe and a music composition by Rogelio Sosa accompany the visual imagery.
The sound action for voices and instruments explores the connections between the narrative of quantum physics and ancestral Indigenous cosmogonies. Described by the artist as a ‘choreographic narration’, the musicians replicate the arithmetic and harmonic qualities that constitute the sonority of music and the laws of physics.
Candiani’s research also led to the sculpture Supersymmetry, installed on the rectangular water mirror surface at the MUAC’s entrance. In physics, Supersymmetry is a proposed extension of the Standard Model of Particle Physics that predicts a partner particle for each elementary particle. This theory aims to fill some of the Standard Model’s gaps: the existence of dark matter, the mysterious substance that makes up 85% of the universe’s matter, and explain the Higgs boson’s mass.
Candiani takes as a starting point a photographic image from a cloud chamber experiment. This early particle detector revealed subatomic particles by making their trails visible to the naked eye. In the water mirror, the aluminium structures evoke the tracks and movements of subatomic particles reflected on the water surface, alluding to the as-yet-undiscovered ‘superpartners’ of fermions and bosons.
Like the Trace, its Sound is the first major exhibition of the artist’s work from 2012 to date, presenting sculptures, paintings, drawings, visual installations and archival work that operate at the complex intersection of phonic, graphic, linguistic, symbolic and technological language systems. The exhibition is on view at MUAC until 27 November 2022.
Tania Candiani residency at CERN was made possible thanks to the support to Arts at CERN of the Didier and Martine Primat Foundation and its special fund Odonata as part of a multi-year partnership and grant scheme that aims to foster creative interactions between arts, sciences and nature.
Article by Ana Prendes, Communications and Content Producer at Arts at CERN