Arriving with a Big Bang: new physics-inspired art installation comes to Brighton

  • Sussex physicists help create new art installation inspired by the Large Hadron Collider
  • Attenborough Centre for Creative Arts to host Semiconductor’s latest installation in May 2020

Imagine if you’d seen the Big Bang with your own eyes. Later this year, an art installation inspired by the Large Hadron Collider will help audiences do just that. HALO recreates the conditions shortly after the Big Bang and is coming to Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts.

HALO is a large-scale immersive installation made by renowned Brighton-based artist duo Semiconductor. The work follows Semiconductor’s residency at CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, in Geneva, and was made with the help of physicists from the University of Sussex. The installation will run from 2 - 6 May 2020 at Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts as part of the Brighton Festival. The University of Sussex is a proud partner of the festival which is Brighton’s city-wide international arts festival.

In HALO, audience members are invited to step into an intricate mechanical structure which is run on data collected by University of Sussex scientists at CERN. HALO is a multisensory experience which invites people to imagine how matter formed in the early universe. The experience is generated through projections and sound which is played out upon hundreds of vertical piano strings. Watch a clip here.

Professor Antonella De Santo, who works between CERN and the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences at the University of Sussex, said:

“I am thrilled, along with other Sussex colleagues, to be working with Semiconductor on this very interesting and enriching collaboration. HALO is a fantastic large-scale artwork which uses real data from the Large Hadron Collider’s ATLAS experiment. In that experiment we’re searching for new physics phenomena, such as evidence for dark matter. HALO gives audience members a fully immersive experience where they ”see” particle collisions at the Large Hadron Collider as if through the "eyes" of the ATLAS experiment. It is a unique work of beauty.”

Dr Mark Sutton, a research fellow in experimental particle physics at the University of Sussex, said:

“As an ATLAS scientist I found collaborating with Semiconductor to be extremely rewarding and an exciting opportunity to provide a new way to engage with the ATLAS data. The novel way that HALO presents this raw data genuinely reflects an important aspect of how the data themselves change over time and is something that is not always fully appreciated when we use those data for physics analyses.”

Semiconductor is UK artist duo Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt. Over the past twenty years of collaboration they have become known for a unique and innovative body of moving image works, sculptures and installations which explore the material nature of our physical world and how we experience it through the lens of science and technology.

There will be a series of free workshops and events accompanying HALO. Join Semiconductor in discussion with Mónica Bello, Head of Arts at CERN, as well as and University of Sussex physicists who work at CERN. Take part in hands-on creative activities for families and young people. For the full programme and more details check or

All events take place at Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts. They are:

HALO Workshop

1.30pm - 4.30pm, Saturday 2nd May, Free, booking required

Creative workshop with innovative art educators Leap Then Look responding to Semiconductor’s HALO. Young people are invited to experiment with sound, object and performance making, using a wide range of materials and tools to explore the way that HALO translates scientific data. For secondary school aged children

Artists Working with Data Panel Discussion

7.30pm, Saturday 2nd May, Free, booking required

Presented by DRIVA Arts DRIVA, panel members include Mónica Bello, Head of Arts at CERN, Semiconductor and Dr Mark Sutton, CERN physicist and University of Sussex Research Fellow in Experimental Particle Physics, chaired by Donna Close.

The HALO events programme is produced by Lighthouse and part of Re-Imagine Europe, co-funded by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union.

HALO Family Drop-in Workshop with Leap Then Look

12pm - 4pm, Sunday 3rd May, Free, no booking required, age 5 and up

Innovative art workshop leaders Leap Then Look invite families with children of all ages (recommended age 5 and up) to drop-in and take part in a hands-on workshop where you can create your own artwork in response to HALO. Experiment with sound, object and performance making, using a wide range of materials and tools.

Semiconductor in conversation with Ariane Koek

7.30pm, Tuesday 5th May, Free, booking required

A chance to hear the Brighton based internationally acclaimed artists Semiconductor discuss their creative practice with Ariane Koek, founder of Arts at CERN, creative producer and curator in the fields of arts, science and technology.

Hic Sunt Leones - Hunting for New Physics at the Large Hadron Collider

5pm, Wednesday 6th May, Free, booking required

Professor of Physics at the University of Sussex Antonella De Santo gives a talk about the science behind HALO. The Large Hadron Collider (or LHC) is the world’s largest and most powerful particle smasher. Antonella De Santo works on the ATLAS experiment at the LHC which discovered Higgs boson in 2012.

HALO is on from Saturday 2nd - Wednesday 6th May, 12pm - 8pm. It is free to attend. Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts is at University of Sussex, Gardner Centre Road, Brighton.

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By: Anna Ford
Last updated: Friday, 14 February 2020

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