Residency at CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics (2015)

Aerial view of part of CERN campus

During our three months residency at CERN we took time to explore every nook of the vast site, we learnt so much about the history of CERN this way and connected with people we wouldn’t have ordinarily crossed paths with. There’s a tower we sneaked into to get a good view of part of the main campus.

Theorist Luis Alvarez Gaume, our scientific partner during our residency at CERN

Luis Alvarez Gaume is a theorist and was our scientific partner. We had our weekly therapy sessions with him where he would turn the physical laws of the universe, as we knew them, on their head and constantly pull the rug from under our feet. He kept us on our toes, and you can hear him dissecting science and scales of human experience in our work The View from Nowhere.

CERN scientists John Ellis

John Ellis guided us on our explorations into theories around The Standard Model. He was kind and generous allowing us to fumble our way around the complex world they inhabit. He too is in the View from Nowhere

In one of the workshops at CERN

We asked to have a tour of the workshop. They’re creating prototype parts for various experiments employing incredible skill and time-consuming processes to nudge and force metal into various forms and structures. It became clear that at CERN they are pushing the envelope at every level, operating at the limits of human endeavours, both technologically and empirically. Here we are at the workshop where they learnt to ignore us over the couple of weeks we filmed in there.

Inside building 180 at CERN

In building 180 we bore witness to the sheer scale CERN is working at, these limits of human endeavour, what surprised us was how the language of theory, essentially mathematics came to be the creative, malleable and playful language whereas the real world materials of technology were hard and fixed and difficult to move and control. We played with this contrast in our moving image work The View from Nowhere.

Building 180

Discussion taking place in the theory department at CERN

Hanging out in the theory department we couldn’t aim to understand their discussions but tried to absorb their methods, interactions, languages and endeavours.

ATLAS experiment, CERN


In the CERN archive with Anita Hollier

Anita Hollier welcomed our request to visit the archive and have a poke around.

The archive holds collections of past scientists’ physical notebooks and paperwork.

Bubble Chamber photograph, in the archive, showing a ‘looper’ moving through the instrument.

Bubble Chamber activity photograph, in the archive.

Bubble Chamber photograph, in the archive.

In the archive we went looking for evidence of the human signature in the capturing process.

Working in our temporary studio at CERN

This is an ATLAS data image in Root. Beginnings of thinking about ATLAS data and how we might be able to work with it / access it / in what way we would work with it of thinking about HALO.

ATLAS data used to make HALO


Visualisation of HALO, which is a kinetic artwork created using particle collision data collected through the ATLAS experiment at CERN

As a result of our residency we were given the opportunity to propose a large-scale idea for Audemars Piguet Commission at Art Basel.


Arts at CERN:
ATLAS experiment:
Experimental Particle Physics Research Group, University of Sussex: