CERN Seeks International Artists For Full-Time Residency

The European Center for Nuclear Research is calling for art submissions for its annual award

Large Hadron Collider, Geneva, Switzerland James Brittain/Corbis

For any artist out there wanting to get up close and personal with the world's largest and most powerful particle collider, this might be your chance: the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) is seeking submissions for its COLLIDE International Award. The lucky winner will get the opportunity to work with a CERN scientist on a project designed to bring art and science together.

"Our desire is to connect the worlds of leading scientists with international artists through 'creative collisions', encouraging both fields to inspire and challenge each other, and pushing the boundaries of their traditional roles and methodologies," Arts@CERN’s director, Monica Bello, said in a statement.

Famously home to the Large Hadron Collider, CERN has offered the award to artists with an interest in the sciences for several years. This is the first year, however, it will be collaborating with the Liverpool-based Foundation for Art and Creative Technology (FACT). The winner of the COLLIDE International Award will win a three-month-long, fully funded residency split between the two institutions as well as a $15,000 cash prize, Sarah Cascone reports for artnet News.

"Encouraging curiosity is central to our agenda, and introducing the public to experimental and open-minded artists is an amazing way to inspire creativity both within science and arts," FACT director Mike Stubbs said in a statement.

A research center packed with highly advanced scientific equipment doesn’t sound like a natural place to find artists, but since CERN founded the COLLIDE Award in 2011, many artists have collaborated on projects with some of the organization’s scientists, called “inspiration partners,” as Sarah Elzas reported for Studio 360. But while the program is ostensibly to inspire artists to create science-based projects, the inspiration often goes both ways.

“If I was forced to say something about how I imagined a lot of artists were, I would’ve said something to the effect that they are creators, they make things,” theoretical physicist Subodh Patil, who was teamed up with sound artist Bill Fontana during his 2013 residency, tells Elzas. “Bill had an almost explorer-like streak about him, which would have qualified him to be a scientist as well in another life."

In the past, award recipients have used their time at CERN to create all sorts of art pieces, from Fontana's sound sculpture "Loud & Underground" to "QUANTUM," an experimental dance piece by Gilles Jobin and Juilius von Bismarck that was inspired by their time at CERN in 2012. Last year, the COLLIDE Award went to digital artists Simon de Diesbach, Laura Perrenoud and Marc Dubois, who form the design collective and were inspired to create an interactive art installation meant to evoke the feelings of awe that scientists get from running their experiments, Elzas reports.

"I was surprised how much [the scientists] had the capability to talk to me about their ideas and their work,” video artist Jan Peters tells Elzas. During his residency, Peters had a rare opportunity to film CERN's particle accelerator for a documentary, which he is still editing.

To apply for the COLLIDE International Award, artists must be “interested in the cultural significance of science” and can show that they “[push] the traditional forms of collaboration between the artistic and scientific fields,” according to Arts@CERN’s website. While there are no limits to age or nationality, applicants must speak English well enough to communicate with the scientists at CERN, who use it as a common language. Applications are being accepted through May 23, and the winner will be announced in June.

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