Chris Henschke | CERNiverses
23 August – 22 September 2018
Underneath the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva, Switzerland is the Large Hadron Collider, a particle accelerator 27 kilometres in circumference, the largest scientific experiment in the world. There are many ways into this accelerator, indeed there are other accelerators, half-forgotten, buried deep under CERN itself. A discovery I made underneath CERN was not in the tunnels of the Large Hadron Collider, but in the CERN archives. In mouldering fragments of film and photographs that once won Nobel prizes, I discovered other dimensions to the reductive empirical surface of CERN. Revealed through such ephemera are the trials and tensions of those who first probed the subatomic depths of the universe. As Dadaist and physicist Paul Feyerabend stated, science is full of chance, complexity, and is as colourful as the characters involved in its development. In the chance collisions of cinematic CERN ephemera, different tensions are produced, a new energy is released from the obsolete experiments, and other potential universes emerge for a moment between the frames of discarded documentary footage.
Chris Henschke is an artist who works with digital and analogue media, sound and light, and high-energy physics. Since the end of the 20th Century, he has been exhibiting around Australia and internationally. A key component of his practice is in interdisciplinary and collaborative projects, and he has undertaken a variety of art residencies, including an online artist residency at the National Gallery of Australia, 2004, an Asialink residency, 2007, and two residencies at the Australian Synchrotron, supported by an Arts Victoria Arts Innovation grant, 2008, and the Australia Council for the Arts Synapse program, 2010.
Since 2000, he has developed courses and lectured in time-based and interactive media at RMIT University and Monash University, and the ‘Art vs Science’ seminar series at the Victorian College of the Arts Centre for Ideas. In 2012, he produced and presented at the ‘Colliding Ideas – Art, society and physics’ symposium, part of the International Conference on High Energy Physics, where the discovery of the Higgs Boson was announced.
He has recently completed a Doctorate of Philosophy at Monash University, which included on-site work at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN), Switzerland, as part of the ‘art@CMS’ collaboration. Exhibitions of the work he has produced at CERN include the following: ‘How Everything Began’ a group show at the Natural History Museum, Vienna, Austria, 2016, opened by Nobel Prize in Physics laureate Peter Higgs and President of the Austrian Academy of Sciences Anton Zeilinger; the ‘Symmetries’ group show at the ‘SUSY’ conference on supersymmetry in particle physics at the University of Melbourne, 2015, which he produced and curated; ‘Circulez’, on site at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN), Switzerland; and the ‘Morbis Artis: Diseases of the Arts’ group show at RMIT Gallery, Melbourne, 2016, featuring his particle accelerator installation ‘Song of the Phenomena’. In 2017 ‘Song of the Phenomena’ was selected to be exhibited at the ‘NotFair’ art fair, and was awarded the $10,000 non-acquisative Anne Runhardt art prize.