Blending art and science, Blazing Quasi-Stellar Object is a one day only exhibition investigating the nature and aesthetics of information.
Organised by Italian curatorial duo Francesco Urbano Ragazzi and featuring the work of Milan-born visual artist Luca Pozzi, BQSO will take place at CERN’s main auditorium, in Mayrin, Switzerland, on March 29th to coincide with the Fermi Large Area Telescope (LAT) Spring Collaboration Meeting. Conceived as a lecture-performance and encompassing different media, from sculpture to 3D animation, BQSO draws from Pozzi’s profound fascination for multi-messenger astrophysics and his years-long collaboration with renowned scientists.
1883 sat down for a chat with the curators and artist to find out more about the exhibition.
Hello Francesco Urbano Ragazzi. The last time we met, you were working on a multi-stage project dedicated to art on the web, The Internet Saga. What’s happened since then? Can you give us an update?
Francesco Urbano Ragazzi: We are still looking at the Internet as a re-reality, an obsessive and joyful invention (or re-invention) of the real. In 2015, we organised an exhibition in Venice featuring Jonas Mekas, whose cinematic work prefigured much of the dynamics of the Internet itself; part of the show will remain on display at Palazzo Foscari Contarini until the end of the year.
In 2016 we curated the online exhibition A Mystical Staircase – here is a link to the exhibition – The Internet Saga’s second chapter, investigating data consumption and its spiritual implications. It brought together 24 international artists with different backgrounds and spiritualities, whose work was presented in the form of a tarot deck.
More recently, we held the third chapter of the Saga in Milan, at Frigoriferi Milanesi, where we curated a residency program in collaboration with Maraya Art Centre (Sharjah, UAE) for artists coming from the Gulf area. The result was BRZ5, a pink punk reinterpretation of a traditional Arab funeral seen as a never ending rite of passage from the real to the digital identity. With Blazing Quasi-Stellar Object, we are now entering what we like to call the fourth chapter of the Saga.
Blazing Quasi-Stellar Object, or BQSO, featuring Luca Pozzi, encompasses art and science – astrophysics to be more specific. Can you tell us how BQSO came together?
F.F.U.R.: Blazing Quasi-Stellar Object will be presented during a very specialistic meeting: the Fermi LAT Spring Collaboration Meeting, which every year brings together over 150 astrophysicists to examine the data collected by the Fermi satellite telescope.The meeting will take place at CERN with the exhibition in its background: the screensaver, the PowerPoint presentation, the sculptures and the lecture-performance produced by Luca Pozzi will re-define the environment of the CERN auditorium, with the aim to create a new imaginary.
The idea behind BQSO is to approach the multi-messenger cosmology as an artistic object, and vice versa. This blazing quasi-stellar object will shine at CERN, and will later appear on the screens and take form in the mind of those who will come into contact with its stream of information.
And what is the connection, if any, between BQSO and The Internet Saga?
F.F.U.R.: The ubiquitous nature of images, data and information. The show can be seen as a multi-layered narrative, as a conference and a series of artefacts, as a scenography and a performance, and as its very own documentation; it is the superimposition and combination of all these elements that makes up BQSO. It goes without saying, some of the elements of the show will be visible only to the attendees who are granted access to CERN; we kind of like this “partial inaccessibility” of the exhibition to its intended audience, we think this is very Saga.
Hello Luca, how did your interest in astrophysics develop?
Luca Pozzi: Multi-messenger astrophysics is one of the most exciting branches of experimental physics; it is based on an ambitious international research programme aiming to expand our sensory horizon that dates back to the 80s. At present, 96% of the universe is a mystery to us because we don’t know how to “interact” with it. Multi-messenger cosmology paves the way for better understanding how things work. It is my belief that, in the Internet and social media era, a new, revolutionary message is about to shake the foundations of physics itself, and, to put it simply, gamma rays, neutrinos, dark matter and gravitational waves will transform our understanding of the universe, as electromagnetism did in the 19th Century. The fruitful dialogue I have had for several years now with the Fermi Telescope and NASA team builds on this belief.
I read you’ve been working closely with renowned physicists for several years now; how has this informed your art?
L.P.: Deeply. I started reading books on contemporary physics, looking for the building blocks of our universe. Almost immediately I realized that there are not may certainties when it comes to speculative theoretical physics; as banal s it may sound, scientists do have different opinions on the same subject. I therefore decided to meet some of the scientists working in the field to know the people and better understand the philosophy standing behind the theory. I have visited the Albert Einstein Institute of Golm, (Berlin); the Faculté de Science de Luminy, (Marseilles); the Penn State University, (State College) and the Perimeter Institute (Waterloo-Ontario); I have been at CERN with the CMS team, at the Fermi Telescope Laboratory in Pisa and I have also visited the Virgo interferometer when the first gravitational wave was detected. It was thanks to these meetings and visits that I realised that we – I and the scientific community – share what may want to call an healthy attitude of doubt towards the mechanics of the universe. This has also made me realise that my research is not only mine and the “grammar” I’m currently using to describe it will certainly evolve and transform over time. Reality always exceeds our grasp, and the universe is not only made up of what we can directly experience.
BQSO embraces a varied series of performative and environmental interventions; can you tell us more about the exhibition?
L.P.: Blazing Quasi-Stellar Object is an ubiquitous exhibition, if you like, taking place at CERN’s auditorium and online, on The Internet Saga and NASA website. At the auditorium, I will present a series of space-time diagrams called Fingers Crossed made of anodized aluminium and featuring magnetically suspended ping-pong balls; I will also deliver a lecture performance inspired by Titian’s Bacchus and Ariadne, and accompaniedby a PowerPoint presentation which is meant as a visual bridge between different languages. Furthermore, a video animation loop called The Big Jump Theory - 0-137200000017 will be distributed to the attendees of the meeting to be used as a screensaver. The same screensaver video will then be uploaded to the NASA website making it virtually accessible to everyone.
As a last question, what have you got in the pipeline for 2017 and beyond?
F.F.U.R.: We are currently working on a film and a new exhibition inspired by this project at CERN. Then The Internet Saga will enter its fifth “chapter” with a show called My Tiger, My Timing whose opening will coincide with the 2017 edition of Artissima, the art fair in Turin.
L.P.: 2017 will be full of dark matter!
Blazing Quasi-Stellar Object will take place on 29th March at CERN, Mayrin, Switzerland
Follow this link to download an original artwork by Luca Pozzi