There are many longstanding connections between art and science, but often we see the two as
separate, using different raw materials, tools, and spaces. The possibility of an exhibition in a
structure like the Yale Wright Laboratory Particle Accelerator offers a chance to explore the
profound connections between art and science in ways both literal and metaphorical. Both art and physics are means of looking at the world and trying to make sense of it, using
their own ontological structures, languages, and histories. Both have as one of their ultimate
goals making the invisible visible, be it emotions and sensations, or atoms and quarks. Art may
engage in this by breaking down larger structures into smaller components, like a pointillist dot
of paint on a canvas, or a pixel in a digital photograph. Quantum physics attempts to discover
the smallest particles that make up matter in the universe. In that sense, a particle accelerator is but one tool in the belt of physicists, much as we might
see a paintbrush for a painter. Both are devices which, through careful observation, application,
and trial and error, allow for results that can transform the way we see the world and
understand our very origins, and what it means to be human in ways literal and metaphysical. The idea of using the particle accelerator as a site for the display of artworks is one that might
seem curious at first. A logistical challenge to using the space of a particle accelerator for such
an exhibition includes the difficulty, or in some cases impossibility, of installing traditional art in
a curved, metallic space. However, this offers a unique opportunity to circumvent the
traditional site of the “white cube” that gallery spaces often consist of. In a sense, a space like
this speaks to the origins of some of the earliest-preserved human art, in the caves of France,
India, and Somalia, which are not pristine white-walled structures but curved and organic, and
which hold an equally reverent feeling to most of us today as would entering the interior of a
particle accelerator. Certain artists and art pieces which are highly “scientific” in nature might seem an appropriate
fit for an exhibition of artwork inside a particle accelerator. However, I am more interested in
gathering works which on the surface are much more abstractly related to physics, but instead
are tangentially, metaphorically connected. Such artists would be a mix of emerging and
established, all making important and significant work in the field of art today. It would also be important to consider a series of performances organized within the space as
well; this could include a range of genres including dance, classical music, and “noise”
music. This would have its own issues of available space, time, and acoustics, but this would be
part of the point, finding the unique opportunities and challenges of the space to work with it
and create a truly unusual experience for the viewer.

up down strange charm bottom top was a proposed exhibition and event to be held inside the deactivated particle accelerator at the Wright Laboratory, at Yale University, in the Spring of 2015. The particle accelerator was to be dismantled and the space reconfigured, presenting a unique opportunity to utilize an unusual and powerful space, one that few get to see inside of, and that had, to me, associations of caves and early cave art.Through the generous support of The Franke Program in Science and the Humanities at Yale, funding was secured and a list of remarkable, engaging artists was in the process of being assembled. Alas, construction schedule issues and safety concerns resulted in the curatorial project falling apart. Without access to the accelerator itself and to the surrounding space, the specificity of the project did not work as well, and the project was abandoned.Many thanks to the helpful individuals at the Wright Lab, Franke Program, and especially the participating artists, who gave substantial time and efforts despite the exhibition not coming to fruition.

Artists that I was in talks with to participate in the exhibition include but were not limited to: Joshua Abelow, Jonathan Brand, Elizabeth Ferry, Kenneth Goldsmith, Lina Viste Grønli, Alex Hubbard, Dawn Kasper, David Livingston, Leeza Meksin, Christopher Michlig, Jeff Ostergren, Travis Leroy Southwith, Jesse Sugarman, Paul Theriault, Siebren Versteeg, Lance Wakeling, and Jennifer West