Fellowship 2019

On September 5th, 2019 we open the doors of our very special factory at 10 rue Alice Domon et Léonie Duquet to a group of artists. They agree to come in and sit with us around a large table. We look at each other, amused and curious. It is not yet clear what is going to happen..

In this “factory", we build concepts and theories about the Cosmos and the objects that constitute it. We do it with new telescopes, with unconventional instruments. Instead of visible light, we use gravitational waves, cosmic rays, ephemeral particles like neutrinos, or gamma rays produced by violent phenomena. This represents a young branch of astronomy, full of promise and surprises: astroparticles. In our factory we also study the Universe as a whole, its origins, its destiny, its form. Its parts tell us about the Whole, the Whole about its parts.

They, the artists, are young graduates of an art school in Reims. Like astroparticle astronomy, they are just starting, like astroparticle astronomy, they are full of promises and surprises.

We sit at this big table for a few months. We show the artists our objects, symbols, concepts, paradigms and instruments. Our mechanical and electronic eyes. They look at us with their curious, shiny eyes and take notes in black notebooks. Our objects are inaccessible and ephemeral, often incomprehensible to logic and intuition: black holes, quasars, a diffuse cosmological background. Impossible to touch them, difficult to imagine a practical application. It is difficult to imagine them at all. And yet they exist.

After a few months, our guests, the artists, have found some threads: light, time, gravity, turning which is a variation of falling, matter. We, the workers of the Factory, are not at all sure that 'their' matter and 'their' light are 'our' matter and 'our' light. The misunderstanding is lurking in our faces. But we remain confident, because we have long understood that the Book is not written only in mathematical language.

We leave this table with the clear feeling that, by uniting all our eyes, we have taken a step forward towards understanding the Great Mystery. And yet, as in the most classic Zen story, the questions remain more numerous than before.

Project funded by the Fondation Jean-François et Marie-Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre, the Labex UnivEarths, and the RFPU Endowment Fund.