CERN welcomes its first artist in residence

Geneva, 12 March 2012. Creative collisions have begun at CERN1 with the arrival of Julius von Bismarck as the laboratory’s first Collide @ CERN artist in residence. A rising star of the international arts scene, von Bismarck will team up with theoretical physicist James Wells as he works alongside the lab’s engineers and scientists for the next two months before moving to the Ars Electronica Centre2 in Linz, Austria for the second part of his residency. Von Bismarck and Wells will give a public presentation in CERN’s Globe of Science and Innovation on 21 March. Doors open at 6.45pm.

“Particle physics and the arts are natural partners, both explore our place in the universe and both examine what it is to be human,” said CERN Director General Rolf Heuer. “We are delighted to welcome Julius von Bismarck as our first artist in residence and we look forward to his creative interrogations and interactions with our science.”

Julius von Bismarck is the winner of the first Prix Ars Electronica Collide @ CERN3 residency award, which attracted close to 400 entries from 40 countries around the world. He was given the award by an international jury for “his proposal and work, which manipulates and criticises our notions of reality in unpredictable ways, often with inventive use of video, objects and public interventions”. His works are also characterised by his fascination with complex philosophical and scientific ideas.

 “Putting an artist in a place where thousands of scientists are looking for things that nature has never exhibited before is very exciting and, of course, I wanted to be that artist,” said von Bismarck. “I am fascinated by making things perceivable which were never perceived before, and CERN is potentially a goldmine for unperceivable or even unimaginable things.”

The public event on 21 March will be opened by CERN Director General Rolf Heuer joined on videoconference by Gerfried Stocker, Artistic Director of Ars Electronica. Julius von Bismarck and James Wells will make individual presentations of their work and then discuss their forthcoming creative collisions at CERN. CERN’s cultural specialist, Ariane Koek will chair the discussion and take questions from the audience.

“It is interesting that after the Prix Ars Electronica Collide @ CERN jury made the award to Julius von Bismarck, we discovered that he comes from a family of particle physicists and had to choose between going into the arts or science,” said Koek. “This clearly shows how creativity, intuition and ingenuity goes across the arts and science, which are both expressions of what it is to be human in this world.”

During the residency, the public will be able to follow and comment on the experience and interchanges on a blog featuring Julius von Bismarck, James Wells and Horst Hoertner, von Bismarck’s production mentor at Ars Electronica where he is Director of the transdisciplinary Futurelab, location for the last month of the residency. Following his residency, von Bismarck will showcase work and ideas developed during his time at CERN at both this year’s Ars Electronica Festival in September and at CERN.

Journalists interested in attending the public lecture on Wednesday 21 March in the Globe of Science and Innovation should register with the CERN Press Office by sending a request to
Doors open at 18.45 with presentations starting at 19:30.


Ariane Koek,
Cultural specialist, CERN

Further information:

Notes for editors:
Julius von Bismarck is completing his studies at The Institute of Spatial Experiment in Berlin, which is directed by the Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson. Von Bismarck first sprang to international attention, when at the age of 25 he won the Golden Nica of the Prix Ars Electronica in 2008, which is the top prize in digital arts, for his work "Image Fulgarator". He recently had his first commercial gallery opening in Berlin at the Alexander Levy Gallery in January 2012.

Dr James Wells is a theoretical physicist working at CERN and a Professor at the University of Michigan. He pursues ideas of physics beyond the Standard Model,  “finding new ways to discover theories by experiment, developing and refining theories to answer as many questions as I can, using experimental results to guide theory, and motivating future experimental work”. His numerous publications include: “How to Find a Hidden World at the Large Hadron Collider”, “Bringing Hidden Dimensions into View” and “Supersymmetric dark matter with a cosmological constant”.


1. CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is the world's leading laboratory for particle physics. It has its headquarters in Geneva. At present, its Member States are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Romania is a candidate for accession. Israel is an Associate Member in the pre-stage to Membership. India, Japan, the Russian Federation, the United States of America, Turkey, the European Commission and UNESCO have Observer status.

2. Ars Electronica Linz GmbH is part of UNTERNEHMENSGRUPPE STADT LINZ. Incorporated in 1995, Ars Electronica Linz GmbH is in charge of planning and producing the Ars Electronica Festival and the Prix Ars Electronica, and responsible for the operation of the Ars Electronica Center and the Ars Electronica Futurelab. Funding is provided by the city of City of Linz, the Province of Upper Austria and the Republic of Austria. The managing executives of Ars Electronica Linz GmbH are Gerfried Stocker (artistic director) and Diethard Schwarzmair (chief financial officer).

3. The Prix Ars Electronica Collide @ CERN is the digital arts strand of the three year Collide @ CERN programme initiated by CERN in 2011. The digital arts prize marks a three-year science/arts cultural partnership and creative collaboration between CERN and Ars Electronica – which began with CERN’s cooperation with Origin – the Ars Electronica Festival in 2011. The second strand of the programme is Collide @ CERN – Geneva, which this year will be awarded in Dance and Performance. The winner will be announced later this month.

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