Creative Collisions: Art and Science

Learn the secrets of CERN’s artist-in-residency program, Collide@CERN, with Robert Semper, San Francisco-based artist Bill Fontana, and scientist Subodh Patil.

Event Details


The Kanbar Forum, Exploratorium
Pier 15, San Francisco, California 94111 United States


March 04, 2014 from 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm America/Los Angeles (UTC-08:00)


$15 general, $10 Exploratorium Members

Together science and the arts form culture – our expression of what it is to be human in our universe. Our work is in science, but when we engage with the arts, we want to ensure we approach the same level of quality”.
(Rolf Dieter Heuer – Director General of CERN)

Join the discussion between an artist and a scientist and hear how CERN, the world’s largest particle physics laboratory and home to the Large Hadron Collider, inspired internationally renowned sound sculptor Bill Fontana.

Robert Semper, Director of Program at the Exploratorium, introduces the artist along with Cosmologist Subodh Patil and moderates a conversation about their collision, with audio and video segments from Fontana’s explorations.

By bringing world-class artists and scientists together in a free exchange of ideas, the Collide@CERN residency program explores elements even more elusive than the Higgs boson: human ingenuity, creativity, and the imagination.


6:30 pm   doors open
7:00 pm   program starts
8:30 pm   networking
9:30 pm   doors close


Bill Fontana

 Bill Fontana (born 1947) is an American composer and artist who has developed an international reputation for his pioneering experiments in sound. Since the early 1970s, Fontana has used sound as a sculptural medium to interact with and transform our perceptions of visual and architectural spaces. He has realized sound sculptures and radio projects for museums and broadcast organizations around the world. His work has been exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Museum Ludwig, Cologne, the Post Museum in Frankfurt, the Art History and Natural History Museums in Vienna, both Tate Modern and Tate Britain in London, the 48th Venice Biennale, the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, the Art Gallery of NSW in Sydney and the new Kolumba Museum in Cologne.He has done major radio sound art projects for the BBC, the European Broadcast Union, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, National Public Radio, West German Radio (WDR), Swedish Radio, Radio France, and the Austrian State Radio.
Fontana is known for his interest in revealing hidden sounds in unlikely places, from the Millenium Bridge in London to a lonely whistle buoy in the ocean to an abandoned construction crane. His careful attention to the relationship between materials and the spaces they inhabit yields stunningly beautiful results. Bill Fontana began and completed the first month of his two month residency at CERN in July 2013. He appeared at the Ars Electronica Festival 2013.


Subodh Patil

Subodh Patil is a theoretical physicist specializing in early universe cosmology and its interface with particle physics at the highest energies.
After finishing his doctoral studies at Brown University and McGill University in Montreal, he held research positions at the Humboldt University of Berlin, the Ecole Polytechnique and the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris, and most recently at CERN in Geneva. His work focuses on trying to uncover the fundamental physics that gave rise to the Big Bang and whether it really was the beginning of the universe.


Robert Semper

Rob Semper is the Executive Associate Director and Director of Program at the Exploratorium. He coordinates the museum’s overall program direction as well as relations with the external science, education, and funding communities. His areas of responsibility include the museum’s exhibit, media, and teacher education programs, public understanding of research activities, and research in K–12 education and new media. He has also guided the development of the award-winning Exploratorium website.
Rob is the author of many journal articles and invited papers, and he has been the principal investigator on projects that include developing new Internet resources, experiments using technology to enhance the museum visitor experience, and programs for teachers and museum educators. Awards include AAAS Fellow, 2006, and the NSTA 2006 Faraday Science Communicator Award. Before joining the Exploratorium in 1977, Rob taught physics and conducted solid state and nuclear physics research. He received his PhD in solid state physics from the Johns Hopkins University.



Photo: Myleen Hollero

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