Published: 03 December 2014

Scientists and artists, including representatives from CERN, came together last November at the University of Kansas to discuss how their disciplines stimulate and inspire one another. The roundtable, Excavating the Universe: Physics Interacts with the Arts, took place on November 21 at The Commons, Spooner Hall in the Spencer Museum of Art. The Spencer Museum of Art houses an internationally known collection that is deep and diverse, with artworks and artifacts in all media.

ALICE Spokesperson Paolo Giubellino gave a public lecture: “The Big Bang in the Laboratory”,  summarizing recent research in the field of ultra relativistic heavy-ion collisions. 

Moreover, Ariane Koek, coordinator of the Arts@CERN project, participated in the round table. Arts@CERN facilitates collaborations between the arts and sciences. As Koek explains on the project’s website: “We believe that particle physics and the arts are inextricably linked: both are ways to explore our existence – what it is to be human and our place in the universe.”

Other roundtable panels include physicist and filmmaker Agnes Mocsy, who is on the faculty at Pratt Institute in New York; artist Marissa Benedict, coordinator of the Arts, Science & Culture Initiative at the University of Chicago; and designers from the studio MK12, which created graphics for the film “Particle Fever,” that follows scientists during the launch of the Large Hadron Collider. You can watch the discussion that took place here:

Assistant Professor of Physics in the University of Kansas, Daniel Tapia Takaki, who has worked with ALICE, helped organize the roundtable discussion. He said interdisciplinary projects between the arts and sciences can help enhance the communication of ideas.

“Communicating results through scientific publications has limited reach. By collaborating with artists, the hope is that they are able to help us share our findings in different and accessible ways,” Takaki said.

Takaki said these collaborations are mutually beneficial for both fields. The roundtable addressed questions such as “How do we create collaborations in which the scientist and artist both benefit?” and “What are the lasting influences of the collaboration?”

The roundtable has been supported by the Arts Research Collaboration (ARC) initiative at the Spencer Museum of Art. ARC aims to foster innovative interdisciplinary research at the intersection of the arts, sciences, technology and society. Supported by the KU Research Investment Council, ARC is a partnership of the Spencer Museum, the Biodiversity Institute, the Information and Telecommunication Technology Centre and the Department of Visual Art.

Continuing the theme of interdisciplinary collaboration, ARC will host a conference in March 2015 about hybrid practices and research in the arts, sciences and technology from the 1960s to today.

You can watch a recording of Paolo Giubellino's talk here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cfYF0rxmNCU&list=UUU9vIT_jooBnTAcnEvxftaQ