"Symphony of Chances": Results of the Artist-in-Science-Residence of Luca Spano


Luca Spano has collaborated with the GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung to carry on research about the concept of invisibility in physics. His aim was to construct images of the unseeable, speculative photographs of the technologically invisible. Notes of the future.

Spano is one of three Artist-in-Science-Residents who the association "Kultur einer Digitalstadt" has awarded for artists of all disciplines for the first time in 2022. The studio stay on the Rosenhöhe in Darmstadt is linked to the cooperation with a renowned Darmstadt research institute: Cooperation partners are the European Space Agency (ESA) / European Space Operations Center (ESOC), the GSI Helmholtz Center for Heavy Ion Research and the Hessian Center for Artificial Intelligence (hessian.AI). The international interest was immense: 158 artists from all disciplines from 59 countries applied for the three scholarships advertised in spring 2022.

Luca Spano takes stock of his residence: „I had a beautiful time at the institute. Their research digs into the fundamental questions of humanity, the materiality of our universe, as much as the most pressing philosophical ideas that hunt us. The environment at GSI is very collaborative and open-minded. Although I come from another field of research, the institute showed a large degree of openness. Art and science are very close to each other and they share many more contact points than what we usually think. I strongly believe bridging the two fields is needed. I’m not going to list the reasons, I will just say that the disciplines themselves, the people involved and the society at large can really benefit from this relationship.“

“In Luca Spano, the colleagues met a person who is open and curious, and who asked challenging questions in order to take new perspectives on research. Luca initiated discussions and thought processes and it became apparent that the approaches in science and art are very similar,” reports Kathrin Göbel, who supervised the residency at GSI/FAIR, about the intensive time of the exchange.

Luca Spano‘s work with GSI is part of “After the Last Image”, a project about the biological and technological limits of sight, and their role in the construction of reality. The work "Symphony of Chances" was created in six weeks of in-depth exchange with researchers from GSI/FAIR and intensive work in the studio.

„I met many researches at GSI, and it was a privilege to have very long and thoughtful conversations with them. A constant pattern started to appear since the first of these meetings. Nothing is fixed. Everything is constantly changing. So, the universe, our planet and us are constantly transforming. Everything is based on probabilities, or as I love to call them “chances”.

The goal of the experimental field is to repeat experiments one identical to the other, so they can test their theories, reaching a form of standardized certainty. They tune and control everything to repeat the performance. I had the feeling to be in front of an Orchestra, where everyone was practicing to reproduce perfectly a specific symphony. But like any performance of the same piece of music, any experiment is different from the other. It is a symphony that can approximate very closely itself, never being identical. And what this symphony does? This symphony creates chances to see events, chances to collect data, chances to test the theory. Yes, there is no certainty. An experiment is based on creating the setting to generate probabilities for something to happen. But it is not said. We know that something can trigger a specific reaction, but we don’t know if and when that is going to happen. It is a Symphony of Chances.“

Luca Spano's residency ended at the beginning of September with a spectacular exhibition in the Rosenhöhe studio. The work's interdisciplinary approach has created an ecology of text, images, sculptural artifacts and sound. It is the result of many conversations with physicists, the aesthetics of scientific research, the exploration of the hidden systems that shape our reality.

The first cycle of the artist-in-science residencies ended at the end of October. Kultur einer Digitalstadt draws a consistently positive conclusion: "During the six-week residencies of Alvaro Rodriguez Badel (with hessian.AI), Luca Spano (with GSI/FAIR) and most recently Swaantje Güntzel (with ESA/ESOC), there was an intensive exchange between the participating scientists and artists, which was surprisingly positive for everyone. The familiar methods (modeling, experimentation, trial and error and the interest in failure, also with regard to the question "is it a bug or a feature") enabled a lively and creative exchange. And the questions asked in science and art are similar. After all, both disciplines are about expanding knowledge into areas that are unexplored, and therefore (still) invisible. And always about investing the invisible, understanding it and making it more visible. By jointly addressing the “big questions” by artists and scientists and by publishing their discourse through round table discussions and exhibitions, it not only becomes available to society, but also enables participation. This is important, because people's culture is common property.”

The participants and organizers would like to thank all those active at GSI / FAIR who were involved in this project and who gave insights into their research and their personal perspectives on research: Oliver Keller, who worked with Luca Spano on a sound installation, Christian Sürder and Davide Racano who supported the realization of a work, Haik Simon, Joachim Stroth, Bettina Lommel, Francesca Luoni, Daniel Severin, Adrian Rost, Matthias Zander, Helmut Kreiser, Bastii Löher, Magdalena Gorska, Christian Schmidt, Lena Weitz, Gabi Otto, Paolo Giubellino and Kathrin Göbel.

The "Artist-in-Science-Residence" is realized with the support of Kulturfonds Frankfurt RheinMain, Merck’sche Gesellschaft für Kunst und Wissenschaft, Wissenschaftsstadt Darmstadt, and Digitalstadt Darmstadt GmbH as well as the participating institutes. (KG/BP)

Kultur einer Digitalstadt

Kultur einer Digitalstadt“ (KeD) is an interdisciplinary project aimed at artists and people interested in culture from Darmstadt, the surrounding region and beyond. KeD sees itself as a platform from which different aspects of digitality can be observed, commented on and helped to shape from an artistic and cultural perspective. With the residence, KeD offers the opportunity to bring together the scientific and technical potential of the city with the equally comprehensive and relevant cultural and artistic tradition. Such a linking of artistic and scientific research on common themes and questions can make a significant contribution to understanding the world, people and their society.