by Werner Riegler. Published: 16 October 2011

CERN and ALICE featured prominently recently, at a renowned arts event in Austria. The ‘Ars Electronica Festival for Art, Technology and Society’ in Linz is the most important festival of digital art worldwide. It is conducted under a different motto each year, and in 2011 it was dedicated to CERN and fundamental science under the title ‘ORIGIN – how it all begins’.

The contact between CERN and Ars Electronica was established by Ariane Koek through her newly established artist in residence program which was featured in the September edition of ALICE matters. The director of the festival Gerfried Stockner visited CERN in January of this year and we took him on a 3 hour tour de force through the ALICE experiment, which looked of course very impressive during this winter shutdown when the magnet doors were open for the TRD and EMCAL installation. In the introduction to the festival catalog he writes “ […] and maybe you really have to have seen it with your own eyes, to have been there in person, to truly feel the enthusiasm that arises in the face of these colossal dimensions and countless technical components […]” – certainly having ALICE in mind.

A series of symposia about CERN, fundamental research and arts projects generated views on CERN from very different perspectives. While the presentations from the Director General and Director of Research focused on explaining the research that is conducted at CERN, many other speakers were fascinated about CERN as an ‘extraordinary space conductive to free exploration’ pointing out that […] maybe the greatest value [of CERN] to our society is its uncompromising dedication to basic research, and the motivation, exchange of ideas and inspiration that thousands of young scientists derive from their work there […].

The LHC experiments put together a two hour event called ‘inside CERN’ which took place in the so called Deep Space Room of the Ars Electronica Center with a huge screen that allowed to project the LHC detectors close to full size.

Werner Riegler (right) during the ‘inside CERN’ event at the Ars Electronica Festival, showing off with his favorite picture of closing the L3 doors.

This event was followed by the presentation of a new book about CERN featuring the photographs of Peter Ginter who has, among others, made the iconic pictures of the ALICE detector and the TPC which we all know so well. It came as a pleasant surprise to see that a heavy ion event display of ALICE was chosen for the cover of this massive volume! This book is currently presented at the Frankfurt book fare ( with a strong participation of CERN and ALICE images! A few copies of the book will soon show up in the ALICE secretariat.

Publisher Lois Lammerhuber (left) and CERN’s director general at the presentation of a new CERN book with photographs by Peter Ginter. The cover is certainly beautiful!