I explore CERN

From the Central Saint Martins website, images by Nicolas Strappini


From experiments with cloud chambers to exploring NASA space models and a meeting with a Nobel Prize winner, 21 students and staff from our MA Art and Science explored CERN on an intensive four-day trip to Geneva. Some of them share their experiences of the trip below. 

Below: Nicolas Strappini at the Large Hadron Collider


“We set out to find out as much as we could about the work and life of CERN, challenging our preconceptions of how art could help with the process of thinking and conceiving new ideas.  We found out so much about everything from detectors to the photons in the Large Hadron Collider. I’m looking forward to making more black hole experiments back at CSM.“
Heather Scott, second year student

“One of my highlights was the final lecture from Prof. John Ellis, who reminded us of a painting by Gauguin which had the following statements tucked in a corner: ‘Where do we come from?’, ‘What are we?’, ‘Where are we going? CERN focused the mind on attempting to better understand the universe and what we can contribute to the sharing of scientific thought.”
Maria Macc, second year student


“I was particularly keen to experience Mick Storr’s cloud chamber experiments with my colleagues. We were challenged to think as physicists or meteorologists, to create our own chambers and describe our findings. Eventually we worked through our observations and in one afternoon we had created a device to display cosmic rays which are all around us!”
Nicolas Strappini, second year student

“CERN’s mission is to explore the origins of the universe, answering questions about where we come from and what we are made of. The science involves a discourse engaged with data, numbers, chemicals and particles. But the outcome is about humans and humanity, and the individuals driving this search are as important as the knowledge coming out of it.”
Jill Mueller, 1st year MAAS

We are very grateful to Dr Mick Storr, Dr Michael Hoch and all their colleagues at CERN. And, thanks to our colleague Dr Andy Charalambous, Associate Lecturer on the MA, for setting up the trip.

Following this trip, the students along with the accompanying tutors plan to create a display inspired by their visit – follow MA Art and Science on Twitter or Facebook for exhibition and research updates.

The experiences and insights featured in this piece were sourced by second year MA Art and Science student Maria Macc.

Curving charged particle tracks, fluid dynamics etc.

I have been able to change the direction of the flow of particles using a magnet to ‘curve’ them. I’ve been thinking about the work of Céleste Boursier-Mougenot and Linda Sanchez.

Céleste Boursier-Mougenot

Boursier-Mougenot’s work was presented at the Abbatoirs in 2014 in an exhibition called ‘Disturbances’. The exhibition focussed on that which is immaterial, in particular information and data flow. I was interested in Celeste Boursier-Mougenot’s piece that audibly and visually represented cosmic radiation.  When these rays were detected, a cascade of water was triggered that fell onto an acoustic drum. The imperceptible was made tangible, and the audio, visuals and subatomic world were melded into something singular and elegant. This is the sort of thing I’d want to produce for my postgraduate degree show.


My documentation of the curvature of particle tracks in a Wilson chamber using a magnet, today.

How to make this into an art piece?

At the moment I’m documenting experiments, but need to make sure the visual choices made make sense in an art context.

Is there a way of lighting the experiment with UV?

I have an idea to trace the movement of particles while photographing the screen… I might do this tomorrow…

My brief chaotic pendulum animation with sounds


Above: an exchange on Twitter, Kepes, CERN



ALCOHOL WORKS BEST. Rubbing alcohol is ineffective, as is methylated spirit. I was surprised at the inefficacy of methylated spirit as it was recommended in the Griffin and George laboratory equipment manual.  

FLUID DYNAMICS -STARRY NIGHT.  Hair curvature, Da Vinci. 




Blade Runner

Linda Sanchez

Linda Sanchez’s piece ‘Chronographie: A Teardrop Dress‘ (pictured below) is spread over 8 meters against a wall. The fine black lines in the work appear like contour lines in cartography, perhaps particularly an ordinance survey map. Sanchez explores the properties of materials. This work investigates the processes behind particle movement, in particular the movement of drops of water, the result becoming simultaneously poetic and scientific. Sanchez  observed droplets of water moving down large slides that she built over a long period of time. The video that opens her exhibition invites the audience to contemplate minute movements of water – the reflection of natural light on it’s surface, the way it rolls and accelerates when it swallows other drops, or being held back in it’s ‘race’, it’s behaviour when meeting an insect and the way it consumes dust … quite fascinating. Then the artist was interested in the traces left (like snail mucous left by a trail)… by the water when it withdrew from a space. She drew the frames of ‘water memory’ one at a time, creating graceful monochrome strips.

I’m hoping to track the movement of some of my pieces to evoke this sort of elegance. I’m already quite pleased with the subtlety of the wispy curves.

Chronographie: A Teardrop Dress