12 July 2012
'God particle' collides with art and society
The announcement late last week of the discovery of the Higgs boson, or "God particle", collided with art and society on Sunday.
It happened at a public symposium at RMIT University, Colliding Ideas: Art, Society and Physics, which addressed the social and creative parameters of the physical sciences and was attended by 100 people.
The symposium took inspiration from the 36th International Conference on High Energy Physics, also in Melbourne last week, where the discovery of the "god particle" was announced.
The symposium featured key speakers from the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) and the Australian Network for Arts and Technology, alongside contemporary media and fine arts practitioners and theorists.
Symposium organiser and speaker, Chris Henschke, Artist in Residence at the Australian Synchrotron and Lecturer in the School of Media and Communication at RMIT, said Colliding Ideas explored the scope and history of physics and how it affected our social world, and also how artists could have a unique relationship to physicists.
Mr Henschke said the impetus for the event was to address the knowledge imbalance between scientists and other parts of society.
"Recent discoveries in physics have changed our lives forever. From iPhones and the internet to medical imaging and genetic engineering, modern technology has largely been developed through advances in physics, yet few people understand it," he said.
"And, in contemporary times, how do the perspectives of physicists relate to and differ from those of artists and visual communicators who use physics-based technologies?"
Keynote speaker Ralph Steinhagen, accelerator physicist from CERN, agreed that artists and physicists weren't too different in their outlook on the world.
A series of talks and audio-visual presentations was followed by a panel discussion and question and answer session.
The symposium was chaired by Jesse Shore, President of the Australian Science Communicators.
Speakers included Paul Thomas, Associate Professor and Head of Painting, College of Fine Arts University of New South Wales; Dr Mary Rosengren, Lecturer in Visual Arts and Design, La Trobe University; and Jon McCormack, ARC Australian Research Fellow and Associate Professor at Monash University.
Other speakers were Sam Leach, RMIT PHD candidate and 2010 Archibald and Wynn Art Prize winner; Antoanetta Ivanova, Associate Senior Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei; Malte Wagenfeld, Senior Lecturer, Industrial Design Program, School of Architecture and Design, RMIT; and Vicki Sowry, Acting CEO and Director of Synapse residency program, Australian Network for Art and Technology.
Chris Henschke at CERN.
Malte Wagenfeld at RMIT Gallery.
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