Archives for the month of: November, 2012

Here at CMS, searching for the ideal space to performr next year…. Maybe we have found it…

ImageOUr tech director Marie PredourThe CMS nearly perfect space!Looking proud!

Cie Gilles Jobin task force: Gilles Jobin, Mélanie Rouquier (admin), Pedro Jimenez (tour manager) and Marie Predour (tech director)


Gilles Jobin’s residency at CERN as part of the Collide@CERN program is now finished. Please find here a sample of press articles commenting on this unique experience bringing together art and science.

- Nature, Wednesday 3 October 2012

- The Huffington Post, Tuesday 17 July 2012

- The Guardian, Monday 16 July 2012

- Gilles Jobin’s final lecture at the Globe of Science and Innovation



Now that it all begins…

I write here some notes on my time in Cern. Not everything is there but some more details ideas…

 When I first arrived at Cern, I was captivated by the place and overwhelmed by the hugeness of the subject: Partical physics… And I had some serious catch up to do… Impressed by the two introduction days in which I had the opportunity to meet many different scientists, Ariane Koeck told me “not to panic” and “to spend my first month following my instinct and not my head…”.

I followed her advice and started to grab some of the science that was being dealt with at Cern. I did not try to understand, but to get a “general feel” of what was around, it was better.


I found out about the 4 fundamental forces and the fact that gravity was the weakest of all the forces. For a contemporary dancer formed basically around the question of gravity and “groundness” that came as a total shock! I was not a “pile of stuff”, but particles bound together by the strong force and “floating” on the surface of the earth… Me, the earth, you readers, the LHC flying at incredible speed through space, without any of us, (including the physicists!) noticing anything…  Stardust flying into space… I was baffled…


I started to realize that to understand the mechanic of our world you need so much objectivity… For an artist working practically exclusively on subjectivity, that was something! I learned that in art one can also apply that a principle must be coherent for itself, independently from the position of the observer… I started to understand how remarkable is the notion of a void full of energy and mysterious potential particles. I understoodd that elements of matter are bond by “non contact forces” and that if all the void was to be taken out of my body, I would become as 73kg grain of rice…

Many of the concepts I was about to discover during my residency would have a deep philosophical impact on the way I was considering the movement of a body in space…

Deconstruct and Scale

Deconstruct and Scale”… It was the title of the talk that senior Cern theoretical physicists Luis Alvarez Gaume gave me during my introduction days. This mantra pursued me through my residency still is, and it seems to have given me one of the essential key to enter the world of physics: Look at things for what they are and at the scale in which they are.

Deconstruct and scale, it is what I do as a choreographer, I deconstruct (movement) and scale it… in size, in time, in space…  Luis told me that if we were to be able to see everything on every scale at every moment, we would become crazy!… Even a car engineer drives the car he has conceived himself in the same way that a choreographer would drive it, he can not visualize the combustion process he conceived as he drives!  He is in the scale of the driving.

At the time, I thought I had it and was feeling pretty confident about what was coming next… I spent some time inside my Cern office reading vulgarisation books ranging, from a great comic book on physicist’s Feynman’s life to Lawrence Kraus’s “A Universe from nothing – why there is something rather than nothing”…


But I needed to get real, go out and grab the space around me. Being a theorist and an experimentalist, I am a choreographer after all, I realized I had to get my body in motion and bring some physicality into physics… Time for some action…

IP days

When I did not know what to do, when I was lost in translation, I would go and meet my Inspirational Partner Joao Pequenao!

On the day of that photo we had a very interesting and stimulating discussion about magnetic fields that got me started on some practical experiments…

We are now into ideas  involving motion capture with Kynecs and the Higgs field… Maybe a connection with the project I have of 3D movie in 2014…  So more to come on that…


Time chameleons

Looking out of the window of my office, I saw on the other side of the yard the Cern’s library…  After visiting the library I imagined a quiet action for it. Talking with Ariane Koeck, she told me she was to offer me the library as a possible performing ground!

But what would be our motivation as dancers, our reason to be there physically during opening hours? How would we interact with the readers without disturbing space and time? I had to invent a fiction, some purpose… I imagined that we were “beings” on a journey from another dimension and passing through the library. Just like the angels in Wim Wenders’s “Wing Of Desire”, we would use the library as a resting place… We called ourselves “Strangels”, a contraction of “strange” and “angels”. It sounded like the name of a new particle, and I thought it was pretty cool. Our story was a bit of science fiction, but we had our reason to be there, our experiment could start, it was spring 2012…

My idea was to “melt” our bodies into the timeline of the library. Like time chameleons, we were to adapt our movements and presence to the quiet and studious atmosphere of the library and be practically unnoticed. My postulate was to imagine that the perception of time is relative; there was a special texture to “time” inside the library. How long is an afternoon in a library? Never ending or passing by too quickly? It is a shared space, with the unique density you can feel in studious atmosphere and its user’s different virtual timelines. We melted into the element of the library and as we guessed, our “unusual” presence and actions did not create conflicts with our surroundings and the students at work. It was a bit like entering slowly into water and becoming part of the element without disturbing its balance. The time hypothesis worked… I wanted to do more site specific interventions in Cern because I was learning things differently. Some understanding was going through my body. Being in action into the labs…


Mr Higgs

Summer came. The “Higgs like particle” was to be announced on the 4th of July in Cern, I did not expect it to be such an emotional event and was caught by surprise. On that day, Cern was buzzing, international press everywhere, restricted access, I managed to sneak in the press conference to see the real Higgs!…


I also started traveling back in time, in my own memory and realized that I was born in 1964, the year Higgs, Brout and Englert published a paper predicting the famous boson… Only two years younger than my mother, Peter Higgs had to wait the full length of my own life, 48 odd years, to witness his prediction…  I remembered my mother telling me how Einstein taught her brother, my uncle Walter, to ride a bicycle in the thirties in Ostende. My grandfather was a journalist walking away form fascism in Italy. In Ostende he met Albert Einstein, his wife and assistants, about to leave the continent for America and made a series of interviews, never to be published. Afraid for the anti nazi positions expressed by her husband, worried for friends and family still in Germany,  Ms Einstein ask for the interview not to be published…

 On  that 4th of July, physics felt like family.

Spider Galaxies

In July, during the lively Cern student summer, we presented one of my pieces, Spider Galaxies, as an “open run” inside the Cern Cafeteria transformed into a dance studio for the afternoon. It was quite an experience to witness our dance in the « womb » of Cern ! And hear the “sound of the Higgs” that the composer Carla Scaletti has created with some simulated data from the LHC.. Days away from Mr Higgs himself having his coffee in that precise space!



The cafeteria is definitively a fantastic space for showing dance in Cern. It was interesting to be seen from inside and not from outside… Dancing without disturbing the normal life of the lab, being visible only to the ones who were looking…. A great article was written by Michael Doser in Nature about this experiment.

Working summer

During the summer, I taught  a workshop in Senegal and travelled with the company to Mexico for a tour of Spider Galaxies.


After a short holiday, back in September I did a lecture on the history of contemporary dance in the council chamber and we prepared two more site specific  interventions @ Cern. One in the Calcul Center and the other in the anti matter experiment…

More site specific@Cern

Le Centre de Calcul: There was so much data flowing around us in the Cern server farm!… The audience was seeing us from the glassed balcony, at a distance. Separated sonically from us performers on the ground, surrounded by the roaring sound of the computer’s thousand’s fans. The audience were “feeling us” as if we were part of the constant vibration of that space. The sensation of distance was enhanced by the special light inside the centre and our fluorescent clothes under the neon lights. Again we merged into the space-time we were visiting… As in the library, workers were passing by, practically undistracted by our silent presence. In the library we were absorbing knowledge, in the calcul centre we were absorbing gigabytes and becoming part of the worldwide grid…


Anti Matter Hall

On the following week we were inside the anti matter hall. A huge industrial space, full of cables and magnificent hi tech machines, liquid helium containers and radioactivity warning sings… Anti matter, particles beyond the invisible!… If there is movement, is there anti movements?  We cruised the space and played with perspectives, dancers bounded together using the principle of the strong force… The audience watched us from a balcony, seeing us from above they looked at the space in a way they never looked at it before…


Trough the 4 interventions I  have been worried a bout the decorative element of the performances we generated at Cern. I invented a pretext for dance, but what does justifies movement to take place inside a lab? Nothing really but our desire to do so… After completing the 4 performances I realized how essential those movement experiments inside scientific working spaces and labs were. Flows of knowledge inside the library, torrents of datas in the Calcul Center, beam of anti matter in a huge laboratory, even the cafeteria, social epicentre of mathematic minds, we physically explored different functional spaces and felt it in our bones… It was only by crossing our paths in space and time that we, the “physicals” could meet with the “physicists”.

It was now time to take phycists into my laboratory, the dance studio… Which we did. We invited Michael Doser and Nicolas Chanon for three working sessions in my own laboratory, the dance studio!


To be continued…


Welcome!!!! I hope you will enjoy Cern hospitality as much as I did!

/////////////Sound artist Bill Fontana is announced as the new Prix Ars Electronica Collide@CERN artist in residence 2013



Good evening ladies and gentlemen,

 Mesdames  et messieurs les représentants de l’Etat de Genève, mesdames messieurs les représentants de la Ville de Genève, Monsieur le directeur general du Cern, Ariane,

 I am very happy to welcome you at the final lecture of my residency Collide@Cern Geneva.

 It has been a truly inspiring time for me to be here.

 I had the unique opportunity to live and work in the middle of the largest particle physic laboratory in the world and I would like to thank everybody here @ Cern for making me feel so welcome.

 I want to thanks especially Ariane Koeck for being a fantastic facilitator and mediator between art and science. With great sensibility she introduced me to many scientists that have taken some of their precious time to meet with me.

Thanks to all of you, it has been fantastic!

 I also want to especially thank everybody @ Cern that helped us organize the different live intervention we did on the site, always a challenge to play out of the box…

 For this lecture, I will concentrate on the main lines of my investigation. I will try to show where I stand artistically after the months I have spent in Cern. What I can say is that it is only the beginning as I’ve only had a flavour of what could be possible to develop in relation to dance and physics.

 I have discovered a tiny percentage of this fabulous  universe of Cern. But what I have “seen”, maybe I should say, “felt”, even in the tiniest experiment always had so many layers and connections between mind, knowledge, abstraction and passion… During my time here, I tried to melt into the space to become one of the natural branch of investigation of this gigantic lab.

 I found so interesting in physics the a priori counter intuitive approach in which theory comes before observation… this very interesting zone of tension between knowledge and counter intuition…

 What I brought  in with me as a choreographer was my embodied knowledge. My ability to trigger thoughts and emotions inside the viewer’s brain, by organizing the movement of bodies in space and time by matter of intuition. 

 It might seem a bit abstract, but it does work!

Contemporary dance does just this!

It is a trigger to think laterally.

 Contemporary dance is based on the juxtaposition of different non narrative performative strategies. What you see is what you think…

You are free to think whatever you want, but there is a structure to guide you, embedded in the piece you are watching. To me, as a spectator, contemporary dance is about watching choreographic structures unfolding and thinking for myself.

 What I have learned @ Cern is that fundamental research is… fundamental.

In science but also in the arts.

 In Europe, dance is a “production based” activity we don’t search enough and produce too much. But just like in science, we need dedicated labs in contemporary dance. Science shows us the importance of research to feed knowledge.  Actually we should not call it “search” or “research” but fundamental knowledge building.

Building fundamental knowledge without the necessity to make a “product” at the end.

But the most important  lesson I have learned in Cern is that knowledge is there only to be shared…




Watch the full lecture at: (in english)

Here is the link to watch my final lecture of the residency program Collide@Cern Geneva.

I have spent more than three months embedded inside the largest particle laboratory in the world and it has been a mind blowing experience!

It will continue as I will be making a piece around the idea of particle physics, hopefully in 2013!


Watch the full lecture at: (in english)




Collide@Cern Geneva dance and performance residence

Gilles Jobin final lecture
6th of november 18:00 CET
You can catch the event on a live webcast here