Cécile B. Evans: ‘Speaking with physicists develops a new language to accept the reality of imperceptible things’
The American-Belgian artist visited the Laboratory as part of a research project around the production of reality
Cécile B Evans’ multimedia work examines how we evaluate emotion and its rebellion in contemporary society as it comes into contact with ideological, physical, and technological structures. In June, Evans made a short field trip to the Laboratory as part of a research project around the production of reality. ‘Beyond the excitement of visiting experimental sites, which are profoundly inspiring, speaking to physicists was an edifying highlight’, remarks Evans about their visit.
In their practice, Evans has extensively questioned data and network infrastructures and our relationship to technological interfaces. Building upon these interests, Evans engaged in conversations with Senior Communications Advisor James Gilles to dive into the history of the World Wide Web, invented in 1989 by scientist Tim Berners-Lee while working at the Laboratory. These explorations into how network structures shape our emotional lives manifest in their films’ ‘hyperlinked narratives’, where the protagonists are disjointed, interlinked, and move in multiple directions to develop thematic metaphors that bring audiences deeper into complex ideas. To gather inspiration for their networked storytelling, they also discussed CERN’s environment, culture and stories, spanning almost 70 years since the first foundation stone was laid.
‘Particles and quarks, the existence of antimatter, feed an inquiry into the illegibility of the universe and acceptance of uncertainty as a presence in our everyday life’
In their current project, Evans is researching deep learning techniques and their potential use in constructing narratives. CERN’s broad scientific programme offers artists the possibility to engage with many scientific areas beyond particle physics. To further explore their research, Evans met physicist Sofia Vallecorsa, AI and Quantum Research Lead at CERN openlab, who works on several projects related to Deep Learning and Quantum Computing for High Energy Physics, Healthcare and Earth Observation applications. ‘Hearing them [physicists] speak about their work in such tangible terms develops a new language around accepting the reality of things that can’t be perceived. Particles and quarks, the existence of antimatter, feed an inquiry into the illegibility of the universe and acceptance of uncertainty as a presence in our everyday life’ commented Evans about these encounters.
As part of this short stay, the artist also got to know some of CERN’s experimental sites and technological infrastructures, such as the Antimatter Factory and the CERN Data Centre. Next autumn, Evans will return to the Laboratory to continue their artistic research in connection with fundamental science.