Exploring dark matter through Australian-first arts and science collaboration with Arts at CERN

Yunchul Kim's ‘Chroma V’ Installation at Korean Pavilion 2022. Courtesy of the artist. Photo by Roman März
Yunchul Kim's ‘Chroma V’ Installation at Korean Pavilion 2022. Courtesy of the artist. Photo by Roman März

Dark Matters, a new exhibition presenting art and science projects that interrogate the undefinable, unmeasurable and unsettling phenomena that is dark matter, has been developed by Science Gallery Melbourne, the University of Melbourne, Arts at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research), and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Dark Matter Particle Physics.

Opening in August at the Science Gallery Melbourne and co-curated with Monica Bello, Head of Arts at CERN, many of the projects have been drawn from Arts at CERN’s international artists' residency program.

While CERN’s primary focus is to uncover what the universe is made of, over the past decade it has run a globally influential arts program, encouraging collaborations with leading cultural institutions and scientific laboratories around the globe to bring artists and physicists together.

Dark Matters also features a major new commission developed in collaboration with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Dark Matter Particle Physics, led by Professor Elisabetta Barberio at the University Melbourne, which brings together experts from collaborating universities and partners across Australia and internationally to unlock the secrets of dark matter and foster the science and engineering leaders of the future .

Dr Ryan Jefferies, Director of Science Gallery Melbourne, said he was honoured to work with Monica Bello and Arts at CERN, to realise this ambitious new exhibition.

“CERN is a world-class centre for research in fundamental physics, but it also recognises the value of fostering relationships between scientists and artists, and their shared interest in examining and finding meaning in the world we live in.  It has been such a privilege to work with Monica Bello and the team at CERN, and to co-curate an exhibition where artists and scientists together explore some of the biggest and more perplexing questions about the universe,” Dr Jefferies said.

Monica Bello, Head of Arts at CERN, said: “We don’t know what makes up 95% of our universe – which we believe is both dark energy and dark matter. But because dark matter doesn’t emit, reflect or absorb light, we cannot see or touch it. It continues to be elusive as we continue our ultimate quest to understand it. We hope this exhibition sheds a light on this intriguing scientific question.”

As with all Science Gallery Melbourne exhibitions, Dark Matters has been co-curated with and a panel of young people and academic experts, together with Tilly Boleyn, Head of Curatorial at Science Gallery Melbourne. Tilly Boleyn said: “The projects in this exhibition explore not only the fundamentals of our existence, but also question why it is there is still so much we don’t yet know and understand on a planetary and universal scale, and how can new technologies and creativity help us change this.”

South Korean composer, music producer and artist Yunchul Kim’s monumental Chroma V, a giant 50-meter-long  sculpture that folds in on itself in a complicated knot, is one of the highlights of Dark Matters. Made of metal and materials derived from new techniques Yunchul explored in collaboration with material scientists, the sculpture detects subatomic particles and comes alive as it reacts to these invisible forces.

About CERN - European Organization for Nuclear Research

CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is one of the world's leading laboratories for particle physics. The Organization is located on the French-Swiss border, with its headquarters in Geneva.

CERN’s mission is to perform world-class research in fundamental particle physics to uncover what the universe is made of and how it works. The Laboratory provides a unique range of particle accelerator facilities to researchers, to advance the boundaries of human knowledge.

The Laboratory, established in 1954, has become a prime example of international collaboration. Its Member States are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Cyprus, Estonia and Slovenia are Associate Member States in the pre-stage to Membership. Croatia, India, Latvia, Lithuania, Pakistan, Türkiye and Ukraine are Associate Member States. Japan and the United States of America currently have Observer status, as do the European Union and UNESCO. The Observer status of the Russian Federation and of JINR is suspended in accordance with the CERN Council Resolutions of 8 March 2022 and 25 March 2022, respectively.

About Arts at CERN

Arts at CERN is the arts program of CERN and the leading worldwide art program fostering dialogue between artists and physicists. Over the past decade, Arts at CERN has brought arts and science together in new configurations, in collaboration with leading cultural institutions and scientific laboratories around the globe. Artists across all artistic disciplines are welcomed to the Laboratory to experience the way the big questions about our universe are pursued by fundamental science. Arts at CERN supports artists in the research and exploration of new ideas in relation to science, through residencies, and in the production of new work, through the programme of art commissions and through exhibitions and events in collaboration with cultural partners.

About Science Gallery at the University of Melbourne

Science Gallery at the University of Melbourne opened in 2022 at the University’s innovation precinct, Melbourne Connect. Exploring the collision of art and science, and playing a vital role in shifting understandings about science, art and innovation, Science Gallery Melbourne is part of the acclaimed Global Science Gallery Network pioneered by Trinity College Dublin. One of seven global nodes, Science Gallery Melbourne aims to involve, inspire and transform curious minds through arts and science. The University of Melbourne secured the exclusive rights to the only Australian node of the network.