CERN Accelerating science

11 Jun 2018

In 2015, the artists participated in a research residency at CERN and began to work with data captured by ATLAS, one of the four detectors at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) that sits in a cavern 100 metres below ground near the main site of CERN, in Meyrin (Switzerland). For Art Basel, they created HALO, an installation that surrounds visitors with data collected by the ATLAS experiment at the LHC. HALO consists of a 10 m wide cylinder defined by vertical piano wires, within which a 4-m tall screen displays particle collisions. The data also triggers hammers that strike the vertical wires and set up vibrations to create a truly multisensory experience.

HALO by Semiconductor

Beams of particles from the LHC collide at the centre of the detector generate collision debris in the form of new particles, which fly out from the collision point in all directions. The magnitude of the experiment is such that it intends to probe and enhance our current understanding of the fundamental structure of matter, contributing to new theories that better describe the universe.

For Art Basel, Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt - Semiconductor - created HALO, an installation that surrounds visitors with data collected by the ATLAS experiment at the LHC. HALO consists of a 10 m wide cylinder defined by vertical piano wires, within which a 4-m tall screen displays particle collisions. The data also trigger hammers that strike the wires and set up vibrations to create a truly multisensory experience

By using the raw data from the ATLAS collisions, the artists seek to convey the signature of the technology, the mark of the architecture of the experiment, to finally speculate about the man’s voice behind it. Their intention is to confront the viewer with the data before it has been processed for scientific consumption. The particle-collision events that form the core data of HALO occur at close to the speed of light, and time frames are measured in millionths of a second. By accessing the metadata with the collaboration of the scientists, the artists have been able to access the time sequences and slow them down.

The artwork is part of the 4th Audemars Piguet Art Commission run by the Swiss watchmaking company based in Le Brassus. Every year, an artist-curator duo is selected to realise a new artwork which explores complexity and precision, while enlisting contemporary creative practice, complex mechanics, technology, and science. Mónica Bello is the Guest Curator of this edition and she has been working with Semiconductor for the new project. HALO is the first collaboration between Audemars Piguet and CERN through its arts office, Arts at CERN.

HALO can be viewed and experienced between the 13-17 June, at Messeplazt Basel, at Hall 4U during the public opening hours (10:00am-9:00pm). Entry to the installation is free and suitable for all audiences.

Photo credit: Michel Giesbrecht/ Courtesy of Audemars Piguet.

Semiconductor