Monday, March 12, 2012

Particles, Art, and Photo Graffiti Collide

CERN, the organization behind the Large Hadron Collider, welcomed its first artist in residence to its Geneva headquarters today. Julius von Bismark won a competition to hold the three month position, and he's teaming up with theoretical physicist James Wells for his artistic project.

Bismark will spend two months at CERN developing his art project before realizing it with an interdisciplinary team of scientists, artists and designers.

While no one know exactly what Bismark's project will look like, he's already attracted attention for his photo hacking device that implants text onto the photographs of unsuspecting photographers.

Bismark's photo hacking device can implant hidden images or text onto photographs. Image Courtesy Julius von Bismark.

Called the Fulgurator, the device looks like a digital camera but operates like a projector. When the device senses that a nearby camera's flash has gone off, it can project an image or text onto any surface, such as a targeted landmark or podium.

Although the projected image remains invisible to the naked eye, it gets picked up by other cameras and imprints itself onto everyone else's photographs. Bismark has been constantly refining his Furgurator for the past few years, and a patent for the device is still pending.

Nonetheless, he has already put it to use. So far, he's used the device to make political statements at major press events as detailed in the video below.

So why has Bismark decided to put his creative thinking to work at CERN? His family history in physics may have had an influence, according to a CERN press release:

It is interesting that after the Prix Ars Electronica Collide@CERN jury made the award to Julius von Bismarck, we discovered that he comes from a family of particle physicists and had to choose between going into the arts or science. This clearly shows how creativity, intuition and ingenuity goes across the arts and science, which are both expressions of what it is to be human in this world.

-CERN's cultural specialist, Ariane Koek as quoted in a press release.

After Bismark, two more artists will be chosen for the next two years for the artist in residence program. Over the next few years, CERN should be delivering not only a wealth of scientific findings but also plenty of accompanying art.

You can find out more about Bismark's Fulgurator on his website or from this Wired article.

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