<p>There’ll be more than just particles colliding at <span class="caps">CERN</span> as the laboratory prepares to welcome its first artist-in-residence.</p>
Agent provocateur and Creator Julius Von Bismarck just became the first artist to be awarded the Prix Ars Electronica Collide@CERN, a new international prize for digital artists. Von Bismarck’s award will encompass a three month-long residency at CERN, the world's largest particle physics laboratory in Geneva, where he will work with “a specially dedicated science mentor” and Ars Electronica’s Futurelab team on the development of a new creative work inspired by the scientific experiments and ideas being generated at CERN.
Despite his monk-like appearance, Von Bismarck is a mad scientist at heart. When we visited his studio in Berlin last year, it looked like an inventor’s lab, with the broken vestiges of dead technology strewn about like some sort of media graveyard. But this was no graveyard, rather a place where these familiar tools—old video cameras, projectors, televisions and radios—could come to be reborn, hacked together into some new Frankensteinian device that presents a new vision or tool for envisioning the future.
For as much as Von Bismarck is excited by the potential of new media, he is also warily skeptical of technology and its intended or unintended implications. “I believe that all technology that’s invented should also be questioned,” he says in the video interview above. “I believe that an invention is also a political statement. If I can build a machine that can change the world, then I have to back it up as the creator. That’s why every technician and every engineer also acts as a politician, and as someone who is responsible for our future.”
It’s perhaps this sentiment that makes Von Bismarck a bold and intriguing choice for this residency at CERN where, working alongside the lab’s scientists and engineers, he will act as an agent of creative disruption that will not only work within the parameters of their ideas, but also strive to question and disrupt, to criticize and manipulate our notions of reality.
The fruits of this labor will be showcased both at the Globe of Science and Innovation at CERN, in Geneva and at the Ars Electronica Festival in Linz. If you’re unfamiliar with his previous work, watch the video profile above, and check out some of his greatest hits below.
Reasons To Love Julius Von Bismarck
Perhaps Von Bismarck’s most well-known and activist-minded piece, the Fulgurator works like a camera that instead of taking pictures, projects images onto a scene. “The joke about this work is that I can manipulate photos of others with this machine,” explains Von Bismarck. “I point this thing at an object and when someone is taking a picture of this object it will be manipulated without them knowing it. I can smuggle information into press photos, tourist photos, and so on. I've travelled the world with it trying to transmit visual messages.”
Public Face I & II
A series of giant smiley faces installed in the German cities of Berlin and Lindau. Using an algorithm developed by the Frauhenhofer Istitute, Von Bismarck analyzes the facial expressions of passersby to determine their emotions. The city’s collective emotional state is then represented on his larger-than-life emoticons for all to see and perhaps reflect on their present emotional state.
Perpetual Storytelling Apparatus
This mysterious drawing machine illustrates a never-ending story by translating text into patent drawings. Seven million patents—linked by over 22 million references—form the vocabulary and these reference links help weave a narrative story through new visual connections.