Putting a narrative film and a sculpture in dialogue, the installation Mass is based on the original matter, Æther, which has served as a backcloth for many creation myths, before finding an echo in the recent discoveries of quantum physics. The immersive experience between reality and science fiction unfolds in a video and scenographic environment, suggesting a theatre set. In the narrative film, June Balthazard and Pierre Pauze staged eminent scientists in their own roles: Chiara Mariotti (CERN particle physicist, EPS Emmy Noether Laureate 2018) and Michel Mayor (Astrophysicist, Nobel Prize 2019). The story takes place in an imaginary world in which a long-announced ecological disaster has occurred. In this tale of anticipation, humanity, plunged into a long night, faces an unprecedented crisis. While waiting for the dawn, scientists seek to understand this enigmatic natural phenomenon. The stretched night pushes them into existential questioning. They wonder about a vibratory substance that, in ancient beliefs as in the most current science, would link humanity and nature.
In the sculptural part, the artists deliver their version of a cosmos. The sculpture imitates elements of nature, like a model or a set. This imaginary landscape evokes pieces of planets. June Balthazard and Pierre Pauze have worked in an empirical way, filming the sculpture as a microcosm or laboratory. In particular, they filmed machines nested inside the sculpture, which animate matter thanks to vibrations. Through this sensory process, they gave a presence to the vibratory substance, normally invisible. The two films, presented side by side, put in co-presence the characters who are seeking this substance and the substance that seems to take shape, animating matter in a supernatural way. The sculpture is exposed inactive, as a piece of archaeology or the trace of a lost world.
Mass was presented in a world premiere at the Taipei Biennial 2020, and shown in the exhibition Arts at CERN: when art and particle physics collide at CosmoCaixa in 2021, as part of the Barcelona City and Science Biennial. This work was originally commissioned by Hermès Horloger, Bienne, Switzerland.