LITTLE BANG THEORY brings literally the European Organization for Nuclear Research
CERN in Geneva to
As a reminiscence to the early kinetic
light experimentations of the ZERO artist group the project connects a purist play with light
and its reflections with the heart of today high energy physics.
Emerged in a subtle haze two convex mirrors hang back-to-back around 3 meters high in the darkened "Blautopf" hall of the TRUMPF company in Ditzingen. Two lasers are aligned perpendicularly to the mirrors, so their light beams are reflected in different colours, intensities and directions into the whole space resulting in a varying appearance: from a concentrated bundle of rays to a star like emission of rays. Sounds like a spherical organ reminding to early science fiction movies complement the visual impression.
The environment visualizes in a minimalist way collisions of particles drawing the tracks of subatomic products star like 360 degrees into the exhibition space using a combination of high power colour lasers and a sophisticated high precision mirror setting. In the end the visitor can follow a mesmerizing reflectory light play and at the same time the immersive environment gives the visitor the feeling standing in the middle of particle collisions echoing as a visual BANG the physical conditions of the very beginning of the universe – the Big Bang. LITTLE BANG THEORY is the first immersive collision environment displaying in real time particle collisions form CERN experiments. Its universal geometry allows to compare visually collision experiments from different detectors.
Little bang theory is funded by the Berthold Leibinger Stiftung.
By the collision of high energetic particles in particle accelerators conditions are created having existed shortly after the creation of our universe by the Big Bang. Taking the Ancient word theoreia literally as looking at or contemplating, LITTLE BANG THEORY looks in a new way to these little bangs enhancing the concept of event displays. Commonly in particle physics event displays are used to represent collision events in particle detectors. Here the (visual) representation of space on a flat computer screen plays a crucial role. They give an orientation either as live display to observe the detector's current performance or as an offline display analyzing recorded data. Hereby the event displays in most cases reflect the detectors architecture. This "detector driven method" is quite disadvantageous when collisions from different detectors shall be compared.
The aim of LITTLE BANG THEORY is to create a kind of quasi-universal event display
(QED) of physics properties of collisions. Here it litterally switches off the detector's magnetic
fields showing the straight unbent flight paths of the particles. Genereal properties as momentum,
charge are translated into a colour code. Above all different particle types can be
differentiated and displayed.
LITTLE BANG THEORY works with data of proton-proton collision of the four LHC experiments: ALICE, ATLAS, CMS and LHC beauty. Above all data of argon-scandium collision from the SPS experiment NA61/SHINE are presented.
The display is realized as an immersive laser based light installation expanding
collisions over a whole space: Two fast lasers in a dark space are projecting from
two sides horizontally on a mirror ball.
Depending on slight changes of the projection angles of the lasers the beams are reflected on each half of the mirrored ball 180 degrees in space. A smooth haze in the air makes the primary and reflected rays visible. The brighter primary rays represent the particle beams, the mirror ball the collision point and the reflected rays the collision products expanding star like from the reflecting mirror surface. The reflected rays are also visible as colour spots on the wall.
In the end the visitor can follow a mesmerizing reflectory light play and at
the same time the immersive environment gives the visitor the feeling standing
in the middle of particle collisions echoing the physical conditions of the
very beginning of the universe – the Big Bang.
Sound is a complementary component representing the collisions. The energies of the individual particles are translated into sine waves of corresponding pitches mixing up by additive synthesis to complex sounds. The resulting sound compositions allow to get an idea of the energetic composition of an event. The flight paths are represented by placing the sounds correspondingly in the space of the multi channel system.
The translation of the collision data into sound was realized with PD (Puredata). Here some samples of the premiere piece reduced to stereo (headphones recommended):
Nowadays experiments allow for a very fast reconstruction of the collision physics properties, thus LITTLE BANG THEORY can be used to display collisions from different experiments in near real time. Depending of the availability of the beam and detectors live events from ATLAS, ALICE and LHCb are shown during the premiere on 9 September 2016 in occasion of the ceremony of The Berthold Leibinger Zukunftspreis and Innovationspreis in laser technology taking place in Ditzingen near Stuttgart.
The very first idea of a quasi-universal event display was developed in October 2009 in dialogue with Marek Gazdzicki, spokesperson of the NA61/SHINE experiment when Tim Otto Roth spent his artist residency at CERN (see his talk@CERN). Since then the artist developed the concept further bringing the laser solution and the sound component in.
Thanks to the support by the Berthold Leibinger Stiftung the project finally becomes reality in 2016. Of course the help of many scientist was essential to understand the data and to make them accesible for the project. Special thanks to Jeremi Niedziela (ALICE), Oliver Kind, Felix Socher (ATLAS), Michal Naskret (SHINE) and Joao Pequenao (CERN Media Lab).
The artist and composer Tim Otto Roth (*1974 in Oppenau/Black Forest) started his studies in philosophy and politics at
the University of Tübingen in 1994. From 1995‒2000 he studied arts at the
Kunsthochschule Kassel. In 2001 he was appointed as "Meisterschüler" with
Floris M. Neusüss. 2004 he finished a degree in Theory of Visual Communication.
In 2014, he received a PhD in art and science history at the Academy of
Media Studies in Cologne. In his artistic works he combines art and natural
sciences in a unique way. In the projective translation of objects into shadows,
the creation of sound environments or the fascination for the nocturnal firmament
Roth explores space in different ways. Most of Roth's works can therefore be
considered as a plea for a "physics of art". Tim Otto Roth works closely with
scientists from leading research institutes as the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft (D),
TU Dresden, KIT Karlsruhe (D), the European Southern Observatory, ESA & NASA,
Brookhaven National Laboratory (US), Fermilab (US) or KEK Tsukuba (JP). His
works are exhibited internationally.
Premiere: Premiere on 9 September 2016 in occasion of the ceremony of The Berthold Leibinger Zukunftspreis and Innovationspreis in laser technology taking place in Ditzingen near Stuttgart, with an introductory conversation with Prof. Rolf-Dieter Heuer (DPG).
4 November 2016
Art meets science: the Quasi-universal Event Display, by Virginia Greco, ALICE MATTERS
9 September 2016
Franziska Meißner: "Ein komplexes Thema anschaulich gemacht hatte der Lichtkünstler Tim Otto Roth", Stuttgarter Nachrichten
For press images please consult the press page of the imachination projects.