episode 13 – science and artistic imagination | Ariane Koek
In this episode, we talk to Ariane Koek, a world leader in the field of science and art. She is the initiator and Founding Director of Arts at Cern(2009-2015), the writer of the book Physics and Artistic Imagination, and a curator of many exhibitions in the field. We talk about the interactions artists and scientists have, how scientists see the artists’ work, what is the role of imagination in both areas, and much more.
Resources and links
Artworks and other topics mentioned during the podcast can be seen in the following links:
- Ariane Koek website
- Arvon Foundation for Creative Writing
- Arts at CERN
- Collide Residency
- Gilles Jobin website
- Quantum by Gilles Jobin
- Chris Druary – A heartbeat of the earth
- Earth, Water, Sky Residency
- Marry Shelly
- Emma Critchely – Underwater photography website and interview
- The Ice memory project
- Julian von Bismark
- Hasseb Ahemd page and video interview
- Topshot Helmet
- Laurn McCarhty and Kyle McDonald – Vibe Check
- Lucy Mcrae
- Real Feelings – Exhibition at HeK
- Bildmuseet Museum Sweden – Exhibition page and Film
- Entangle: Physics and Artistic Imagination
- Out of our Minds – Book
*the transcript was produced with the help of AI, mistakes might appear.
Nir Hindi: [00:00:00] Hey podcast listeners. Thanks again for coming back for another episode of the Arttian podcast today, we have a very special episode I would say that focuses on the intersection of art and science, and I’m very happy to welcome to our show. Arianne Koek.Hey Ariane.
[00:00:21] Ariane Koek: [00:00:21] Hi, Nir. Lovely to be here.
[00:00:23] Nir Hindi: [00:00:23] Thank you Ariane for coming and taking the time to chat with us about your wonderful work that we are going to speak today.
[00:00:29] How you mix physics and science and art in different places around the world to drive imagination and creation. Maybe we will start out with actually a short introduction to our listeners. What, who are you Ariane? What are you doing?
[00:00:45] Ariane Koek: [00:00:45] Uh, well, my name’s Arianne and I’m really a Voyager of the imagination.
[00:00:51] And I love inspiring people to create some, make new things in the world to take the world further in terms of individual societal imaginations, and also ways of looking, um, being an acting in the world. And my background, I was a BBC staff producer for 16 years. I then was a director of the Arvon foundation, which was a creative writing foundation which held, um, residency’s and four historic houses throughout the UK. And then I threw a kind of peculiar route and ended up creating a program it’s called arts at CERN which was, um, CERN first institutional program for art.
[00:01:41] Nir Hindi: [00:01:41] Before you continue to kind of tell us this about out at CERN. I want maybe to ask you what is CERN?
[00:01:50] Ariane Koek: [00:01:50] Then is the world’s largest particle physics laboratory has over 11,000 people from at least over 120 different countries around the world working at it.
[00:02:05] So normally about 5,000 people at CERN physically. And CERN the building or the property is actually spand both Switzerland and France. It’s outside Geneva. And it is symbolized really by The Large Hadron Collider, which is the world’s largest manmade machine. It’s 27 kilometers. In circumference. It recreates the moment when the universe was born and they were just after the universe was born 13.8 billion years ago.
[00:02:43] So for me, CERN is the most magical place on the planet on planet earth, because it does recreate our very few moments of existence. And I can’t think of anywhere more inspiring on the planet to create an arts program.
[00:03:03] Nir Hindi: [00:03:03] If I’m not mistaken in 2012, they actually discovered the Higgs boson particle. Is that correct?
[00:03:10] Ariane Koek: [00:03:10] That’s absolutely correct. And it was one of the most exciting times ever. I mean, there were scientists queuing in lying down, sleeping bags overnight in queues in the CERN buildings wanting to get into the main council chamber I couldn’t get in. So I watched it live with my then artists and residents,
[00:03:31] uh, Gilles Jobin downstairs in our office and we watch the announcements as it came out and nobody knew what the announcement was going to be, and it’s probably the most exciting time ever.
[00:03:44] Nir Hindi: [00:03:44] You are in this, the largest scientific building that explode, the, the essence of the universe in our humanity. How art connected to this place? How you came up, bringing out these, into this place. What is out,
[00:04:04] Ariane Koek: [00:04:04] gosh, that’s just about 3 million different questions.
[00:04:09] Nir Hindi: [00:04:09] You choose where to start.
[00:04:11] Ariane Koek: [00:04:11] And where does it start with that one? Well, as I said, I can’t think of any where more exciting for artists than to go back to the moment after the universe was born and to look at the constitution of matter and the material world in which we live in.
[00:04:27] After all, when the universe was born, there was as much anti matter as matter. And nobody quite understands why matter won the battle. And we ended up with the material world we’re in now. So artists and scientists are kind of like twin souls because they are both looking at the origins of the universe or the origins of how we feel, think behave in our world.
[00:04:56] And I think of both artists and scientists as explorers, discoverers people driven by curiosity to know, discover, and think and find new knowledge and different ways of knowing
[00:05:09] Nir Hindi: [00:05:09] this is your perspective. And then you come to CERN. How do you actually make it happen to have formal institution that actually bring at into the scientific realms?
[00:05:22]Ariane Koek: [00:05:22] I won an international prize for cultural leadership in, uh, 2009. And they said to me, you can get any way you like in the world. And I off the top of my head just decided I wanted to go to CERN because for me CERN symbolizes the very cutting edge. Yeah. Knowledge and technology, because I love places which pushed the boundaries and knowledge further. Also, , uh, artists, friends of mine, who, a Chris Drury they’d come back from Antarctica and dropped off at CERN and created an extraordinary print, which is the heartbeat of the ice in Antarctica and the heartbeat of the large Hadron Collider and they both matched each other, the frequencies match matching each other. So that shows you very clearly how CERN is all about discovering the secrets of nature. So. I decided to go. I had three months scholarship. I went to Africa for three months with no strings attached. And I actually had written to them just saying out of the blue, I want to come to you.
[00:06:31] CERN is poised at this amazing moment where your switch on the large Hadron Collider again. And you’re looking for Higgs Boson, uh, physics has never been being acknowledged properly as one of the great inspirations for modernism in terms of music, literature, and art in the 20th century. And do you have just about to do something just as phenomenal as was done in the 20th century, by switching on the large Hadron Collider again and looking for the Higgs.
[00:07:00] So now’s the time for creating an arts program and I will come and do a study please. Ability study the setting up an arts program for you for three months funded by the UK government. So they didn’t need to pay in the thing and they would just come and have a look. I actually sent that off to the head of communications, James Gillis, and this kind of symbolizes the beauty of CERN cause literally I sent it off on a Friday and they’ve gotten.
[00:07:29] A phone call on Monday saying, this is amazing. When can you start? This is incredible. So I flew out the following month and started my research
[00:07:40] Nir Hindi: [00:07:40] and then fast forward, they actually accept your proposal and they establish a formal program for the arts that actually connected from different components.
[00:07:50] What are those components that, how did you bring art into the CERN?.
[00:07:55] Ariane Koek: [00:07:55] So the feasibility study, basically I created the framework and the program seeing what was possible there. And, uh, so when I started in 2010, I started the first element, which was the collide international residency program and the collide Swiss residency program.
[00:08:16]Um, the whole idea of The Collide Residency was residences was that artists would come through an open call and come to CERN for two months, two months. Yeah. Two months of research and discovery
[00:08:30] Nir Hindi: [00:08:30] and they are working, closley with the
[00:08:31] Ariane Koek: [00:08:31] scientists?
[00:08:34] what they were going to, I always pair them with an inspiration partner.
[00:08:39] We refused to call the mentor
[00:08:41] yeah, inspiration partner, not mentor cause you’re both going on the same path of discovery together. And, um, they’ve always paired. They always came a week early, so they had a week early before they came on their residency program. Be plunged into the language of particle physics, which includes everything from crazy things like wince Zellers to anti-particles, to learning about what is a Collider, how does the Collider work?
[00:09:12] Um, so they always came for a week’s briefing where they met at least 20, 30 different scientists. And then they come for two months, uh, of a machine CERN. But I suppose the original thing about that program, which I created was I matched it very, very directly with the purpose of CERN, which is a fundamental research institution.
[00:09:38] So what a creative with the art system scientists collide program was a fundamental research program where I said very provocatively, but this was a political statement that there was going to be no output. Now, why did I do that?
[00:09:56] Nir Hindi: [00:09:56] Scary for managers of those institutions in business as well. Everyone is looking for an output and you come and say no output.
[00:10:05] Ariane Koek: [00:10:05] Yes correctly. So I made my life really difficult because also that means you have, I had to fund the program. I had to find funding for the programs CERN didn’t give me funding. Uh, it only funded my post. So I made my position even harder with, um, funders as well. But I really believe in the beauty of discovery.
[00:10:30] And I knew that if the curation of the program was correct, If you curated the experience for the artists properly, you selected the right artists then any, and every single artist would wants to create something and make something because CERN this so inspiring when you hear things like the floor beneath your feet is 95% full of holes or your body is made from supernova. When you learn things like that, like your imagination immediately blasted and you learn things like your feet are older than your head because of the way the us spends. I mean, just say those simple things and you’re inspired. I knew any artists worth their salt would create something.
[00:11:18] Every single Collider artist. All six. Cause I was there up until 2015, so I got the program up and running. Every single artist created something. And in fact, the first, first and second artists, they won the Hermes prize for innovation, um, and, uh, Gilles Jobin, piece, Quantum, which would produce three years.
[00:11:43] Uh, that opened in Paris and in New York.
[00:11:46] Nir Hindi: [00:11:46] Yeah. I was saying so many things that, you know, we’ll do immediately to jump in and respond. It’s like so many questions here just popping up. If I kind of take your approach, basically you say discovery for discovery sake. We need to let our imagination just go and allow those artists and scientists that work together to go on a path into the unknown.
[00:12:06] And we never know what we will discover.
[00:12:09] Ariane Koek: [00:12:09] Yeah, I love the beauty of discovery and it doesn’t mean there aren’t some constraints within that. So you have to build it constraints as well. So for example, the artists and scientists had to give a lecture when I was running the program at the beginning and at the end of the program.
[00:12:27] Uh, to the public. So the public could track and understand that voyage of discovery. So there’s meet them at those first moments of excitement just before they’re embarking, whether they were kind of very different souls talking about their disciplines, and then you’d meet them more right at the end and discover how they had interacted, how that curiosity’s acquired off each other.
[00:12:52] So building in that constraint, I actually meant the discovery was even more explosive and the field. And I do believe in freedoms constraints, but as I said, I always say, if you get the curation right. Then there will always be something, there always be an outcome, which absolutely that was in the first three years.
[00:13:17] Nir Hindi: [00:13:17] Yep. In 2015 are live in the CERN. And since then you created the Earth, Water, Sky environmental science residency at the science gallery in Venice, and you advise a science labs and museums, and you create exhibition at the intersection of art in science. I’m interested to know what attracts you, why you chose to connect out in science.
[00:13:41] Ariane Koek: [00:13:41] I think, arts and science are two different ways of looking at the world. Science describes it through mathematics through a particular methodology and process. Uh, describe it, the senses through hearing, seeing touch and intuition. For example, they’re both, they’re both United by the imagination and it’s been trendy.
[00:14:04] And to say, you know, science doesn’t engage with your imagination, but it does because how else can we go further? And imagination takes us further. And I suppose it all goes back also to my roots. So I was a Mary Shelley scholar. So, um, for my master’s degree, I concentrated on Frankenstein and Frankenstein.
[00:14:27] That incredible tiny novel by a 17 year old girl.
[00:14:33] Nir Hindi: [00:14:33] She wrote Frankenstein when she was 17.
[00:14:35] Ariane Koek: [00:14:35] Yeah. That’s when she was 17. And, uh, she told the story just outside Geneva, on Lake plumber. So, um, with Baron and Polidori one night as the challenge of this monster is creature, which has created thanks to the latest science of that time.
[00:14:57] And for me that really kind of symbolizes again, the imagination and symbolized as how even a 17 year old girl can take us further and look further beyond ourselves into really deep yeah. Intense questions about how and why we are here on the weld. What does it mean? What does human being mean? What does humanity mean?
[00:15:25] And Frankenstein, the monster after a while you realize isn’t a monster, he’s a way of showing what humanity is, is the word monster actually comes from the Latin to show it doesn’t mean something horrific. Yeah. To show. And I think when you read Frankenstein, you realize, you know, what is the essence of real humans?
[00:15:49] Nir Hindi: [00:15:49] The reason I ask you is that often I think we have this image of the artist. Is that the one that just kind of put oil or color on a canvas or just writing a song or just, I don’t know, writing a book or an essay and you actually speak about them, artists and scientists as both explorer and discoverer of the world we are leaving is just different perspective to the same planet or that we are living in.
[00:16:18] I think you kind of described it beautifully. And because if you, you probably know you live in the UK and in the fifties, there was a famous lecture. It was in Oxford. If I’m correct about the two cultures. And when we talked, when we prepare this conversation, You spoke about how we actually need to break this concept of the two cultures and bring those scientists then out of this.
[00:16:41] And I’m interested from your experiences working so many years at this intersection of art and sciences in CERN, in the Earth, Water, Sky, environmental residency. How do you see the influence of artist on scientist or scientists on artists? How scientists respond to those out? Is that suddenly coming.
[00:17:02] Ariane Koek: [00:17:02] So again, the many, many, many ounces in that amazing observation, which has packed lots sin.
[00:17:11] So I would say the two cultures are breaking down now. So that is great. And that’s one of the great things about the art science movements that though the word movement, not science movement. I have to say the many different forms of arts and science. I would say that many, many, I kind of listed about 14 when I gave a lecture last year at the Exploratorium.
[00:17:33] And then I had some deep run up to me and say, actually, I’m thinking there are another two. So two cultures is breaking down. Although there will still always be a problem in terms of the hierarchy in terms of economics because science is so much better off than the arts and humanities. So there is a kind of economic power play there, which does create cultural difference and disconnect, which is also what I addressed with the Collide residency program, because I made sure that the artists was actually paid.
[00:18:09] So as well as getting their subsistence, their accommodation and everything, uh, paid for, they also got a salary which was 5,000 a month. So they go pay the salary and I’ve carried that through. That’s like one of my missions in life to try and break down this economic, cultural difference. So would the earth water sky residency at science gallery?
[00:18:35] Venice, I’ve done exactly the same. There’s no free artists and that’s so important to make sure that we express that artists should be as valued in our society as scientists and be on the same level of economic payment as well as far as possible.
[00:18:55] Um, I haven’t made that my absolute mission.
[00:18:58] Nir Hindi: [00:18:58] What is the influences that you saw? Tell us maybe a story or two that you, how these scientists respond to those artists. I’m very interested to learn because I’m positive. You have a lot of stories that scientists were surprised maybe to learn about themselves, maybe to learn about artists, maybe to get excited about things they never thought before.
[00:19:18] Ariane Koek: [00:19:18] Gosh, yes, there are many, many stories. Is this. Of artists and science. Well, the science is getting really excited. I mean, I last week, actually my current Earth, Water, sky artists and residenty, Emma Critchley. I worked with last year. She’s one of the world’s leading underwater. So she makes films underwater.
[00:19:40] And last week we showed to professor Carlo Barbante is one of the world’s leading climate scientists and is the leader of the ice memory project, which is creating a library of ice cores in Antarctica as a record of climate change. He was her inspiration partner. And last week we showed a few little clips of what she’s working on.
[00:20:08] So she started producing her art piece. She shot it in the world’s deepest dive in pool that so I’ve had to work with dancers underwater, responding to the idea of the ice core, all the icicles, being a body of memory, just like the human body itself is a body memory. And we showed them to Carlo Barbante, but I’m too, and yeah, both Emma and I were blown away because he literally couldn’t speak when he saw the film and then you just went awesome and his breath caught his breath and he just couldn’t believe it.
[00:20:47] And I think that was beautiful because he had no idea really what she was going to make, how she was going to respond. And his response was so extraordinary. So that kind of shows you, he really touched his soul and his heart. And I’ve heard that from the scientists I’ve worked with at CERN, for example.
[00:21:10] So James Wells, who’s an extraordinary physicist. He worked with my first artist in resident on the Collide residency, international work Julian von Bismarck and he always said to me, the great thing about artists is they remind us that we scientists are human and they put us in touch with that. The Manatee I’m the bits, which when we’re studying science, when we’re looking at things in a very linear way or very directional.
[00:21:40] They remind us that we can look beyond even further. This is one of the world’s leading theorists saying to me, somebody who does look beyond, but he said, it just reminds us that we’re human and we’re dealing with humanity, uh, as well as yours that said, I’m sure it’s going to affect the way I theorize, um, discover things in the future.
[00:22:04]so watch this space. So it has many different impacts, but I think it’s kind of heart, body, mind, and soul. I think that’s the big big impact on the scientists that surely.
[00:22:18] Nir Hindi: [00:22:18] And, you know, for me kind of both artists and stuff, scientists lead with questions, not necessarily answers, which go back to what you say about the discovery phase.
[00:22:29] And I wonder if there was a moment that artist pose questions to those scientists that actually make them, huh? I never thought about it that way.
[00:22:39] Ariane Koek: [00:22:39] Yeah, I think the many, many, many ways doing that. I mean like Emma talking about the body and the body human body and the body of bias, I think that really struck and resonated with Carlo is a great, great kind of a campaigner against the climate emergency is something where you could see that link.
[00:22:58] And that was a Eureka moment for him. Or the moment when Julies sat down with the engineers are the large Hadron Collider. Uh, that moment when Julius from Bismark, the first artist in residence, that’s I’m on the Collide residency, sat down with the engineers at the large Hadron Collider and said, had you thought of doing this or that?
[00:23:21] And I just remember being shocked at his intelligence and his understanding of how the Collider worked and they really seriously had to go where and think about what she was talking about. So there’s so many ways that artists can surprise and challenge scientists. Again, Michael Dozer, one of the world’s leading experts from anti-matter, who was one of the inspiration partners and also one of the first cultural board members for arts at CERN.
[00:23:53] I remember him always saying to me, the great thing about artists is they remind you that tangents and going off on tangents is also really intriguing and can take you to new places instead of being totally mono direction. Tangents can take you elsewhere as well and artists love going on tangents.
[00:24:15] They kind of go on weird loads of tangents and then pull them all together into some kind of meaningful. I don’t want to say the word whole, I can, I’m resisting the word health. It’s a meaningful being or thing or encounter or experience, which they then invite you to be part of whether you’re a viewer member of the audience, even a participant in, I know for example, my current artists in residence on the earth water sky residency in Venice, Haseeb Ahmed. He is working with one of the world’s only, uh, historians of the science of the
[00:25:00] Nir Hindi: [00:25:00] history of wins. Yes. Wow.
[00:25:03]Ariane Koek: [00:25:03] Yes. Yeah. It’s going to be fantastic. the digital side to mean that to be adaptive and.
[00:25:12] Nir Hindi: [00:25:12] I have a question exactly about that for the listeners that might be interested to see those projects.
[00:25:16] Are those projects available somewhere on the internet, at least to, to, to see them?
[00:25:21] Ariane Koek: [00:25:21] Yes. There’s some in the interviews, um, on the science gallery of Venice, uh, website and you look under Earth, Water, Sky.
[00:25:31] Nir Hindi: [00:25:31] So, what we will do is that we will add those links to the show notes. So everyone that is interested in the projects that you mentioned, and the artist that you mentioned can actually go into, Ariane before we will continue, let’s take a short break.
[00:25:45] We will be right back.
[00:25:52] So we are back with Ariane. We are talking about art and science, scientists and artists and the interactions that they have and the influence they have on each other. And one of the things that I think is important for both art in science is creativity. And we are living in a world that everyone wants creative people, we want creative environment. We want creativity, but often. We kind of limit creativity. And I want to ask you Arianne, what can stiffer creativity? How can we avoid stiffening this creative aspect of human?
[00:26:26] Ariane Koek: [00:26:26] Well, I think one of the ways we can actually destroy creativity is by turning it into a product.
[00:26:32] And I I’ve written an essay, which is about this saying that how creativity is like this tiger, which people want to capture and cage, but actually it needs freedom to roam. As part of nature, nature is creative in itself. Responding to situations, adapting, coming up with new solutions. So I think if you, you want to stifle creativity in kill.
[00:26:59] Yeah. You turn it into something which is a product you say it has to be done within a given time in a particular way. Uh, you create a formula, you tell people to stick to it. So that’s exactly what I rebelled against with the arts at CERN program, with the collide residency, it was totally against being product driven, uh, so much so that, as I said before, I said no, but that’s because I knew there would be an output.
[00:27:33] But it would happen in its own time and it’s its own pase and it’s in place. And I think in this product driven world, we’re getting too hung up on checking every single stage of every single process of innovation and creativity to the point that we are actually in danger, killing it. And creativity is what makes us human as well as, as is the imagination.
[00:28:07] So if we want to go further as a species particular, particularly at this moment, when we’re in the climate emergency, when we’re also in something of a political emergency, we have to think beyond ourselves
[00:28:21] Nir Hindi: [00:28:21] what is the role of the arts?
[00:28:23] Ariane Koek: [00:28:23] Well, it did, the us is to connect is to connect us all with different ways of thinking, being, and different beings in our universe. So whether it’s a stone or sky or the trees or your neighbor or somebody you don’t know on the other side of the world, or a new thought about gravity, It’s connecting with that and giving you new ways of connecting, seeing, and being with those new things.
[00:28:54] So the arts opens the door. I think it opens a kind of magical courtroom, really for humans. It’s a magical port.
[00:29:03] Nir Hindi: [00:29:03] So if the, all of the arts is actually to create this connection, what is the role of their creator, the artist themselves? How do you see the artist? Not only as the connector in what they do, but in who they are,
[00:29:16] Ariane Koek: [00:29:16] the artists, I mean, so many different artists and what they have is what they, what probably unites them, whether they’re dancers, painters, filmmakers, sculptors is a curiosity about the world, wish to embody their feelings and sensations, and then transmit that through their artwork. And then for people to connect with that.
[00:29:44] And really be inspired to have a different way of being. So artists are kind of conveners of our souls and also conveners of people in groups of people to work with, um, uh, to make works actually happen as well. So they’re kind of also, they can be societal change agents where they try and change society or inspire society and individuals to change.
[00:30:16] So artists are many, many things, there are a bit like octopus, really they’re highly sensitive, original adaptive souls, which explore and discover and go into the deep and are not afraid against the deep and being out about depths as well.
[00:30:35] Nir Hindi: [00:30:35] Maybe it’s related to something that I have in my perception is that many artists or at least artists that I know are kind of driven by doing original works, inventing new things, innovating.
[00:30:50] Why is it so that our thinking in that way that has to be original. It has to challenge that to show us new path.
[00:31:01] Ariane Koek: [00:31:01] Maybe because artists, so just like persevere, Shelley, I believed in their imagination being revolutionary. And I believe in the margination being revolutionary and changing ways of looking at things.
[00:31:15] Um, I think many artists. Believe that. So for example, Julius Von Bismarck is the first substance that collide, but also did a piece for me in the exhibition about physics and art, which I did at, um, built museum in Sweden. He did a piece for the leader helmet.
[00:31:35] It’s an extraordinary helmet, which allows you to see for the first time, like a machine sees. Wow. And even more than that, it allows you to see through walls and floors and the thing’s solid. By using lead our technology.
[00:31:52] Nir Hindi: [00:31:52] Oh, wow. I’m always surprised about the work that they’re doing. it seems to me that in your work, it’s imperative to break disciplines. You’re doing it between art and science out in technology. Why you think it’s important to break?
[00:32:07] Disciplines to allow them interact.
[00:32:10] Ariane Koek: [00:32:10] Yeah. So breaking down the discipline. So really breaking down the boundaries of the disciplines. I really believe in crossing across disciplines is super important because again, that’s new ways of knowing, new ways of thinking innovation comes from those kinds of moments.
[00:32:28] But I don’t believe that it should be so broken down, but you don’t have expertise in different areas. I think if you ended up with fusing arts and science together and lost expertise areas, then we would be poor for it. Because it’s in those kinds of expertise, really deep diving into, for example, anti-matter or deep diving into gravity, which is still one of the biggest mysteries there is that you can learn.
[00:33:03] And I think we should constantly think about depth of knowledge and not lose depth knowledge by using stuff and making it all horizontal you need vertical depth in that very strong.
[00:33:18] Nir Hindi: [00:33:18] I always say when it comes to health, I don’t want my doctor to be generalist. I want them to be expert in what he or she is doing.
[00:33:26] So you’re also kind of breaking down the barriers or creating bridges between art and technology. And now you have a new exhibition in Basel, Switzerland. What is this exhibition?
[00:33:38] Ariane Koek: [00:33:38] Oh, so the exhibition, which had co-curating I did with the director of HEC, um, in Basel, the house of electronic arts, I’m the director of move hybrid arts center in Eindhoven, uh, is called real feelings, emotion and technology.
[00:33:56] And it features 20 international artists responding in very different ways to the way technology is becoming increasingly implicated into our lives so much so that it’s kind of detecting our emotions, sometimes defining our emotions, then driving our behavior. And I think suddenly during the pandemic, we have seen us all.
[00:34:25] Literally rely on technology. Like we never done before to connect with each other emotionally and express our feelings, but equally it’s triggered feelings in us, maybe feelings we’ve never had before. So anyway, all these kinds of ideas, as well as the facts I live in the UK. So I’m obviously exercised by Brexit.
[00:34:50] Um, Brexit is a very, very clear case of how technology was used. Some of the data from Facebook was actually new to drive the Brexit vote. Um, drive the behavior, the voting behavior. Anyway, that’s just to say, there are many things about technology.
[00:35:13] Nir Hindi: [00:35:13] Yeah, no. I mean, one of the things that you mentioned, you spoke about survelliance and you mentioned one of the works that actually kind of activate or work on the viewer. The moment they enter to the exhibition and the moment they leave. Can you tell us about this work?
[00:35:27] Ariane Koek: [00:35:27] Yeah, there’s an amazing work by Lauren McCarthy and Kyle McDonald called Vibe Check where you enter the exhibition at HEC and cameras are assessing you as you enter and you walk around the exhibition and at the end of the exhibition, it flashes up snap shots of your encounters as you’ve been around and analyzes them and says things like disgust, content, happy. So it’s basically analyize your social interaction
[00:35:59] Nir Hindi: [00:35:59] with their work during the exhibition.
[00:36:02] Ariane Koek: [00:36:02] Yeah. During the exhibition. So it’s great, but this is not something which is pie in the sky. So for example, China apparently has been using this with its prisoners and sides, its prisons to analyze their facial expressions.
[00:36:17] So if they’re not showing a facial expression of happy. Then they get punished. So, um, surveillance, surveillance, our emotions is here. Another piece in the exhibition, which is really beautiful in another way is as you, as we will have all felt during the pandemic, we have no had very little touch. You had touch with the people you were with or the animals you are.
[00:36:45] Locked down with, but nothing else. And, uh, the artists Lucy Mcrey is based in Los Angeles.
[00:36:53] Nir Hindi: [00:36:53] Wonderful artist. I love Lucy McRae. We are talking to have her on the show as well.
[00:36:59] Ariane Koek: [00:36:59] Yeah, let’s see you super special. Uh, we commissioned her to do a new piece and, um, She created this extraordinary inflatable, kinetic sculpture, Solitary Survival Raft, which it looks like a rock the boat, but it’s very different.
[00:37:18] You have to fall into it. It’s inflates. And then it deflates and it’s deflated skin hugs you so you embrace them too. And so it kind of. It’s evocative. Many things of being alone is this really survival. If all that’s left is you and the machine gives you the idea of the apocalypse at the end of the world.
[00:37:42] Nir Hindi: [00:37:42] If it actually can be a replacement, it’s also the question we always see now, the whole boats taking care of elderly people, and it’s kind of raises these questions as well, at least for me.
[00:37:55] Ariane Koek: [00:37:55] Exactly. So why are we replacing humanity with technology? Why. Why are we doing that? Your question as does the exhibition, I mean, Why, why are you putting so much research
[00:38:09] Nir Hindi: [00:38:09] so until when this exhibition is running?
[00:38:11] Ariane Koek: [00:38:11] This exhibition is running until November the 15th in Switzerland, and then it transfers to Eindohven Netherlands in March.
[00:38:20] Nir Hindi: [00:38:20] Great. So if your listeners that are located in Basel area, you can visit it until November 15. And if not, check it out in the event in 2021, I am, we are getting into the end of our conversation, but I still have.
[00:38:34] Few more questions to ask you. And I want to ask you about the book that you wrote in. You wrote the book Entangle: Physics and The Artistic Imagination beside immediately that I was intrigued by the name physics and artistic imagination. I wanted to ask you, how did you get to this book and what is this book about?
[00:38:56] Ariane Koek: [00:38:56] So I did a, I was commissioned to do an exhibition, one of the world’s top, uh, museums, one of the most beautiful museums in the world, according to the Telegraph, and it’s called Bildmuseet and it is in Sweden, uh, just moving towards the Arctic circle and they commissioned me to do an exhibition.
[00:39:17]that featured it featured 20 artists in the show. People like William Kentridge, for example, uh, Sarah Z, uh, Julius Von Bismarck, Julian Shapria gosh, Krueger, extraordinary artists who all are inspired by physics.
[00:39:35] And use it as a tool in their imagination and their work to just drive themselves further and further. So the book, uh, came out directly out of that exhibition and it features things. For example, I created these things called diptychs where you have an artist and the scientists on opposing pages, reflecting on light.
[00:40:02] What light to them, or what matter means for them or what gravity means, what time. Ah, so you have the Berry wonderful fashion designer, or I always called her artists. You’re responding to her and reflecting on what matters and the role matter and materiality plays in her, in her work. Yeah. So these diptychs are showing the difference ways that artists and scientists look at each other.
[00:40:34] And then the book as an essay by me looking at the whole history of physics and art and how it interconnects and how in fact visit artists, for example, in the 20th century, their notions of time and space are, which were very radical when predated those of Einstein and general relativity. So you can see the artists have been the precursive or the prophet of things, which of then have been proven
[00:41:08] Nir Hindi: [00:41:08] in science.
[00:41:09] Ariane Koek: [00:41:09] Yeah. Um, the catalog also has other essays in it. Great essays by color of Valley, the amazing bestselling physicists about entanglement. So who defines some temperament as a one?
[00:41:21] Nir Hindi: [00:41:21] Yeah. Mentioning so many names. I will have a lot of work in the show notes. to add all those links and all those artists, their name, it’s, I think it’s wonderful because most of the time we don’t think about out in sciences connected. Then when talking to you, it seems so natural as it, how it even possible, the doubt not connected. It seems to me that in every high school we should stop telling kids, choose being a painter or being a physicist instead just telling them being a Feess in being an artist is just two different ways to look at the world and you can experiment with both.
[00:41:59] Ariane Koek: [00:41:59] I think that’s absolutely true and I also mentioned all those names because you know what, in our culture we’ve become too individualistic as well. And everything we do is a result of working in cooperating, collaborating, talking with each other. So we have to acknowledge the people.
[00:42:22] We work with extraordinary people. So art at CERN would have never, ever, ever happened. Uh, if it hadn’t also been for the openness of the physicists who I worked with, hadn’t been for Ralph Hoyer who was then director general. Um, if it hadn’t been for Michael Dozer, who’s on the board for example, or so none of these things would have happened without other people, nothing happened in a vacuum.
[00:42:53] And we have to realize that the universe is full of particles, which interconnect and interact just as much as we, as people interconnect and interact to make things happen.
[00:43:06] Nir Hindi: [00:43:06] So you’re optimistic about this merging of disciplines.
[00:43:10] Ariane Koek: [00:43:10] I I’m optimistic about the way we are increasingly now understanding how interconnected we are.
[00:43:20] And this has actually come from physics. So like from the work of the theorist, Karen Barad, who’s really pointed out that everything from a stone to a rock, to the sky, to the sea, to a vacuum, everything is interacting with each other and her philosophies, which are drawn directly from physics and now leaking into culture.
[00:43:47] And we can see it so clearly within what’s happening within the climate emergency at the moment, every single action we take has an effect and, uh, for good or for ill and we have the choice as to what you do and what is better than working for the greater good. Um, the greater good can involve working across disciplines to come up with new solutions and understand where we are.
[00:44:17] Nir Hindi: [00:44:17] Ariana. I think it’s a great message to kind of finish our conversation. We are all connected and you are leaving us. We’ll weave a deep questions about the world we are living. I, and I want to say big, thanks for taking the time and bearing with all my questions and my enthusiasm, about your work. I find it fascinating, and I’m really looking forward to your future projects. Thank you very much.
[00:44:45] Thank you very, very much NIR. It’s been a great pleasure indeed. And thank you. Well, the variables
[00:44:52] follow Arianne she’s available on the Instagram. She has her own website. We will put all the links on our show notes.
[00:44:59] Stay tuned to the next episode. Thanks again for listening.