Beyond Entropy

It’s a cold and rainy morning here in Geneva, but I’m really looking forward to the next few days here. I arrived yesterday evening after a flight that was longer than it should have been. It seems the French air traffic controllers went on some sort of strike so my flight from Heathrow wasn’t allowed to cross French air space. For a flight between London and Geneva that is a bit of a problem. In the end we flew west over Belgium and then down into Switzerland from the North, the whole thing taking about an hour longer than expected. Still, when I did get to where I was going I found the hotel nice and comfortable and, better still, had a very enjoyable dinner at a swish Italian restaurant. It was nice to leave the chaos of French airspace behind.

I’m here as part of an unusual research project called (ironically, in the light of the aforementioned travel problems) Beyond Entropy. Organized by the Architectural Association School of Architecture, this experiment will bring together a group of artists, architects and scientists to investigate the notion of Energy. The way this is being done is by setting up a series of groups (one artist, one architect and one scientist) to look at each of a number of different forms of energy: potential, electric, thermal, mechanical, and so on; my own focus is gravitational energy. Each group will work together over the following few days to generate ideas a collaboration intended to create a work of some sort that gives form to the specific concept of energy they’re looking at. The subtitle of the project is “When Energy becomes Form”.

After we go back home, we’ll continue to work over the following months to produce prototypes of whatever emerges from the collaboration. The results will be exhibited at the Venice Architecture Biennale and the Architectural Association in August 2010. It is hoped that next year these prototypes will be developed into full-scale installations for the Venice Art Biennale in 2011.

I have no idea at this stage how the collaboration will work out or what is going to come out at the other end. The canvas is completely blank. I don’t really know the artist (Carlos Garaicoa) or the architect (Eyal Weizman) that I’ll be working with either. That makes it strangely exciting. At any rate it’s certainly different from the sort of scientific workshop I usually attend.

Anyway, to kick things off we’re going to be spending most of today at CERN, where I’ll be heading by bus just about as soon as I’ve finished this blog post. Later on today I’ll be giving a short presentation about how gravitational energy relates to my own research in the hope that this will stimulate a few ideas for my collaborators. Arts-science collaborations like this have been tried before and they have a chequered history, but we’ll just have to see how it goes. It feels more like research than most research workshops I’ve been to, in fact, because I really haven’t a clue what is going to happen!

P.S. Fellow blogger Andrew Jaffe is here too, but I think I might have beaten him in the competitive blogging stakes.

15 Responses to “Beyond Entropy”

  1. Yes, you win. I was sleeping and eating.

  2. And Andrew isn’t the only other blogger you beat!

  3. it sounds quite interesting.
    good luck

  4. Anton Garrett Says:

    Is public money going into this project? (As you might have guessed I don’t think it should, although I hope you have an enjoyable time.)

  5. telescoper Says:


    The Architectural Association is a learned society, but is run as a private company (with charitable status). No taxpayers’ money is involved in the programme I am attending, which is sponsored by two commercial companies – Olivetti and Direct Technology Solutions.


  6. Anton Garrett Says:


    Great – they are entitled to spend their own money as they see fit. It’s not how I’d do it, but that’s what freedom is about, so enjoy!


  7. […] Othercoverage of Beyond Entropy can be found here and here. […]

  8. […] Other blog entries about Beyond Entropy can be found here and here. […]

  9. […] When Energy Becomes Form I’m back in Cardiff, exhausted but, at the same time, rather exhilirated by the past few days in Geneva. Before I crash out I thought I’d update the post I filed a couple of days ago. […]

  10. […] I just remembered that while I was at CERN last week  I took a few crummy pics with my phone, so I thought I’d stick them on […]

  11. […] A few months ago I was invited to take part in an evening of Pecha Kucha in a hotel in Geneva. I’ll try anything once, so I agreed. I have to admit, though, that I wasn’t actually […]

  12. […] of Architecture. I’ve been working on this occasionally over the months that have passed since I first blogged about it, but deadlines are now looming and we need to accelerate our activity. Last night I met with the […]

  13. […] of the Moon gets just as much sunlight as the near side! This is one of the images I’ve been working on as part of the project Beyond Entropy for a forthcoming exhibit at the Venice Biennale of […]

  14. […] spurred me on to think about it was the exhibit I’ve been involved with for the forthcoming Architecture Biennale in Venice as part of a project called Beyond Entropy […]

  15. […] spurred me on to think about this subject was the exhibit I was  involved with for the  Architecture Biennale in Venice as part of a project called Beyond Entropy organized […]

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